In November 1979 the Turkish community in Auburn bought an old house along the train line on then Northern Parade, demolished the interior walls and started a mosque. By 1986 they had bought up more land around that block and began to build their dream mosque, importing all the building materials and master craftsmen from Turkey. After 13 years the Gallipoli Mosque was opened for prayer. The street has since been renamed Gelibolu Parade for the Turkish spelling of Gallipoli.
Each year the community opens the mosque for visitors to take a look inside and to listen to the story of the building and the faithful who worship in it. We joined them to look, listen and lunch.
After taking off our shoes at the door, we were allowed to enter the main area of prayer. This cavernous space has two levels and is filled with light that allows the artwork that covers nearly every space on the walls and dome to glow.
The dome is mesmerising. Mr Shawn couldn't stop staring at it for half an hour. The centrepiece of words from the Koran allows the faithful to remember their place in the world.
Our tour guide Yucel (pronounced Ergil) was a man who demonstrated his great faith and answered all the questions asked of him with great knowledge of his religion and his community.
After the tour we were welcome to join in and have some food and drink.
The amazing spread was all laid out and ready to go, you just helped yourself to a dish and found somewhere pleasant to sit.
There were two varieties to choose from: gozleme, a slice of lahmacun (turkish pizza), salad, a rice mix and an especially zingy minty potato salad. Finished off with a slice of chocolate cake!
The other choice was the same salad (loved that potato salad!) with gozleme, bread and a syrup infused semolina cake.
Sour cherry juice was served, a beautiful not so sweet refresher.
The Auburn Gallipoli Mosque opens up once a year for an open day. Tours can be organised for groups on request at other times.