Vendor City Guide: Sydney

Street secrets revealed by the people who know them best. This week we head to Sydney with Big Issue Australia vendor Bob

Our guide this week: 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. He nickname is Tutu Bob because he is often seen wearing one.

Why I like living 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 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
Kings Cross

It’s 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.

Best restaurant
The Wayside Chapel

It’s got delicious chef-prepared food for $4, and to-die-for fruit salad for $2. You can sometimes get 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
There’s a long list

Visitors to Sydney can visit the Opera House (tours not recommended) and walk across the Harbour Bridge for free. The Barangaroo reserve is worth a look. The State Library and the Art Gallery 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, cheap food and produce. Bondi Beach is a must; there are 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 on.

Best time to visit
Any time (but maybe best to avoid winter)

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…
Between 27 and 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

It’s on the South Coast of New South Wales. DH 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.