Vendor City Guide: Sydney

Bob C, 68, comes from Thargomindah, a small town in outback Queensland but now lives in Sydney. He sells The Big Issue Australia and conducts walking tours to help him pay the rent, which uses up 80 per cent of his pension. His nickname is Tutu Bob because he is often seen wearing one.

Big Issue Australia vendor Bob C (Credit: Peter Holcroft)

Why I like living in Sydney

I live in Sydney because of the Aussie saying ‘Sydney or the Bush’. If you are going to live in the bush make it the real bush. If the city, choose Sydney. As former PM Paul Keating said, “If you’re don’t live in Sydney, you’re just camping out.” I moved here with my sister and her family after my father passed away around 30 years ago. We all live within a five-minute radius and we are all fond of one another. My sister supplied me with food for 12 months, her daughter helped with rent. But I want to earn my own money so I sell The Big Issue.

My favourite area

My favourite area is Kings Cross. It is the former red light district. The strip joints are on life support, soon to be terminated. Unfortunately the drug pushers are still there. Now it’s not heroin but ice [crystal meth], which is a much more unpleasant product. The eccentric are welcome and respected here. There’s a market where I sell The Big Issue, you get a mix of old people, young trendy people, dog people, it’s eclectic, which is very attractive to me.

Illustration by Daniel Gray-Barnett

Best restaurant

My favourite restaurant is the Wayside Chapel. Delicious chef-prepared food for $4. To-die-for fruit salad for $2. Sometime a plate of noodles by our celebrity chef Kylie Kwong for $2. And maybe a delicious David Jones cake for $2. Not recommended for diabetics.

Best places for tourists

Visitors to Sydney can visit The Opera House (tours not recommended) and walk across the Harbour Bridge for free. Barangaroo is worth a look. The State Library and the Art Gallery of NSW are free and enjoyable. Chinatown food market on Friday evenings is a delight. Paddy’s Market at 3pm on Sunday is good for high-quality and cheap food and produce.

Bondi Beach is a must; good walks along the clifftops to the north or south. In Centennial Park there is a mandala that some people find a spiritual experience to walk.

Photo by Dan Freeman on Unsplash

Best time to visit

I don’t like the cold so Winter is not good for me although in Sydney it is usually mild. Autumn, Spring and Summer are delightful.

Not everyone knows about

My secret place only locals know is between 27/29 Billyard Avenue, Elizabeth Bay. It looks like private property but is a public access. This has an alcove where Charles Darwin and Alexander MacLeay sat to discuss science.

Where to escape city life

To escape city life I go to Thirroul on the South Coast of NSW. D.H. Lawrence wrote Kangaroo here in the 1920s. Artist Brett Whiteley died here of a heroin overdose in 1992. Find a good cliff and watch the whales swim north or south in the right season.

Originally published in The Big Issue (UK)

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