Mark, 56, was born in Adelaide, but has been living in Melbourne for a few years. He sells The Big Issue Australia in the Altona district of the city. “Being a Big Issue vendor gives me something to do with my day,” he says. “It’s put some discipline and direction back in my life. It’s an honest way to make some extra cash.
Why I like Melbourne
Melbourne is a well laid-out city with great sports, art, cafes, restaurants and pubs. There is always something happening all year in Melbourne. I don’t know about New York being the city that doesn’t sleep – this joint doesn’t sleep either. I like the attitude about the place. Melbournians are down to earth and have a sense of humour about themselves.
My favourite spot
The Melbourne CBD is my favourite area. It’s like a big playground with plenty to do and see, you can find lots of mischief. I quite like Melbourne Museum and next door you’ve got the IMAX Theatre. You can see the city from the sky at The Eureka Tower Skydeck for $18. And there’s tours out to the Neighbours street, where you can go down to Ramsay Street.
Best things to do on a budget
At the State Library you can see Ned Kelly’s armour, plus lots of early state history. The Australian Rock Vault is a free exhibition of rock’n’roll memorabilia: Kylie Minogue’s gold hotpants, Angus Young’s schoolboy outfit sewn by his sister, Maton guitars made here in Melbourne and loads of posters covering different bands from different eras. And AC/DC Lane is worth a visit for the street art and the thunderbolt street sign (there’s a pub down the end called the Cherry Bar and Bon Scott would’ve loved that), as well as Chrissy Amphlett Lane in the theatre district.
My favourite places to eat
The Greek restaurant Stalactites on the corner of Russell and Lonsdale Streets is open 24/7, 364 days of the year. You can get a takeaway or if you want to sit in, you can get a meat platter and salads. I like Pellegrini’s, an institution on Bourke Street. And Mercedes Me on Collins always has a display car which they change every week or so; it could be an F1 or a Gold Wing from the 50s. You can have a coffee, jump on the simulator and drive whatever F1 track you want.
Where to escape city life
My peaceful place to is the jetty at Altona Beach – it’s less than 400m from my front door and just a 25-minute train ride from the city. It’s a stress-free environment, away from the chaos of the city. It’s a nice beach and has some good restaurants and take-away options if you want to eat outdoors.
The best time to visit
March is a great time in Melbourne, because it’s the start of the Formula One year with the Australian Grand Prix. It’s also when the footy season starts, and there’s the International Comedy Festival – the city just comes alive from March onwards.
Originally published in The Big Issue (UK)
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