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Colin’s warm smile and local knowledge helps others find their way around the city

Colin’s warm smile and local knowledge helps others find their way around the city
Brendan Rees

Colin Gunther loves nothing more than helping locals and visitors alike find out about the “delights of our fantastic city centre

The Southbanker is one of many friendly and approachable City Ambassador volunteers who can be seen dressed in their distinctive long-sleeved red tops and wide-brimmed hats around the CBD as they help passers-by with directions, public transport enquiries, events, attractions, and more.

Colin stands at various street locations, but mainly at Bourke Street Mall (where the Melbourne visitor information booth is located) and Federation Square and, until recently, at Station Pier to welcome cruise ship passengers arriving in Melbourne. 

“Enjoyment is in helping the people who approach us to find out what is on,” he said, adding it’s “very satisfying especially when they come back later and say ‘thanks’.” “There is also the enjoyment in being with the other ambassadors discussing their passions and interests” with some travelling from as far as Forest Hills and Chadstone to “do the streets”.

Colin has been a City Ambassador for three years after a friend mentioned the City of Melbourne’s tourism team was recruiting, and he decided to go along to an information session to find out more about the program.

“I have lived with my husband in Southbank for 20 years, so I have seen the city change with new shopping areas, a new variety of restaurants and cafes open/close and open. Recently there has been a great rebirth and it’s a pleasure to help even locals to discover our city again.”

Colin said a base roster consisted of one shift of four hours per week but, being a local, he often chose to do extra plus the cruise ship roster – which he expected to do over Easter.

Asked what his tip was for the best café to visit, Colin said as an ambassador they cannot specify any one café, however “there are a couple of good cafes in the Kavanagh St area as well a trip to Degraves St or Hardware Lane”.

He encouraged anyone curious about volunteering to stop and say hello to the City Ambassadors, as they were more than happy to talk about the role and how to apply.

“There is quite an extensive training program as well as ongoing questionnaires that are answered by walks around various areas. The management team is amazing and supportive and the City of Melbourne is so all-inclusive no-one feels uncomfortable.”

Colin said potential volunteers should also not be daunted by finding their way around the city.

“Navigating the city is easier for me as it is my local shopping district, however, just walking around, answering visitor questions, along with passing out the street walks and maps, it’s a constant learning pattern and is amazing what is hidden within Melbourne’s lanes and upper levels of buildings.”

He added one of the better things within the program was the support and management team who help “create the camaraderie between all the volunteer ambassadors and have a lot of product knowledge to help us on our way”.•

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