Drop in on the Melbourne Visitor Centre (MVC) at Federation Square, as it celebrates 10 years of sharing the city’s hidden gems with curious visitors from near and far.
When Federation Square opened a decade ago this month, the City of Melbourne’s tourism volunteers also moved into the new Melbourne Visitor Centre opposite St Paul’s Cathedral. We caught up with Jann de Burgh, one of the 350 volunteers working across City of Melbourne’s free visitor information services.
How long have you been a volunteer with Melbourne Visitor Centre (MVC)?
Another volunteer told me about the program, so I applied in 1996 and have been with the MVC for 16 years. I started at Town Hall and still do one shift a fortnight.
How has the MVC changed over the years?I’ve seen extraordinary growth. We only had three volunteers at Town Hall and we had limited resources, only the Melways and the telephone directory. Now we have iPads, computers, a great volume of information, as well as our ambassadors and greeters. We were about 100 volunteers then (in 2002), and now we have nearly 400.
Tell us about the move from Town Hall to Fed Square
It was overwhelming and exciting to move to the Melbourne Visitor Centre from our small office at the Town Hall. It was like moving from a caravan into a large house.
How do you stay in touch with what’s going on around the city?
I never stop reading about the city and walking around. It’s so exciting to explore and see all the changes first hand. Once a week a group of us try a new bar because the young ones are always asking after bars. We’ve been to more than 100 bars, we have one quick drink and get a sense of the place, catch up with each other then go our separate ways.
What do you like about volunteering here?
It’s very invigorating volunteering at the Melbourne Visitor Centre. You establish informal relationships with people in minutes, get to know where they come from and what they like to do. Often people try to do too much in one day and have no concept of how vast Australia is. We had one man come in and ask where to hire a donkey so he could go trekking in Cape York that afternoon!
The Melbourne Visitor Centre in Federation Square is a one-stop-shop for visitors and locals alike, offering face-to-face advice as well as ticket sales and public transport information, internet and email facilities, accommodation and tour booking services, quality Melbourne souvenirs and gifts. When friends drop in from out of town, make use of these free visitor services in the City of Melbourne.