Our guide this week: 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. “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
There’s always something going on Melbourne is a well laid-out city with great sports, arts, cafes, restaurants and pubs. There is something happening all year. 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 business district
The Melbourne Central Business District (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 (there’s just been a Nelson Mandela exhibition on) 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 are tours out to the Neighbours set, where you can go down Ramsay Street.
The best things to do on a budget
Check out our music history
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 bands from different eras. 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 – Bon Scott would’ve loved that), as well as Chrissy Amphlett Lane [of Divinyls fame] in the theatre district.
Best places to eat
Meals on wheels
The Greek restaurant Stalactites on the corner of Russell and Lonsdale Streets is open 24/7. 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 Fifties. You can have a coffee, jump on the simulator and drive whatever F1 track you want.
Escape city life
Head for the beach
My peaceful place to is the jetty at Altona Beach – it’s less than 400 metres 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 takeaway options.
Best time to visit
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.