Whether you’re a local or a visitor in Melbourne, our 400 tourism volunteers are on hand across the central city to greet you with a wealth of knowledge and – as one of them puts it – a big ‘Melbourne smile’.
In fact, 10 of these red-jacketed Melbourne masterminds are celebrating a staggering 20 years of service. Among the long-serving group are Beverley Wong and Melinda Daniels.
‘My favourite thing about being a volunteer is ensuring all visitors get the right information and see as much of Melbourne and Victoria as possible,’ Beverley said.
‘Whether they are local, from interstate or overseas, I hope they’ll have a good time and tell their friends and family.
‘Having volunteered for 20 years, I obviously do enjoy it. You’re helping people and you can’t put a dollar value on that.’
Volunteers play a vital role in the City of Melbourne’s visitor services, providing information to around two million visitors each year.
‘When I first heard that volunteers were needed to help visitors to Melbourne, I thought I knew my home city pretty well and could help,’ Melinda said.
‘How wrong I was as I soon realised there was so much I had to learn – 20 years of learning in fact, as Melbourne has changed and grown an enormous amount.
‘The other volunteers are fantastic – like-minded people who enjoy being busy and useful. Someone always knows the answer to the tricky question.’
And there are plenty of tricky questions. One visitor even wanted to know the name of the species of frog that live in the lake at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Beverley wasn’t sure, but she knew just how to find out.
‘I feel some visitors benefit from a laugh as much as information.’
‘Some visitors definitely do their homework. Others have no clue at all and we are there to help,’ Beverley said.
‘Things change a lot in the city and we’re always learning new things. It’s mind-boggling really.’
New volunteers are recruited once a year, and extensive training and on-the-job mentoring is provided to make sure people get the best possible service.
‘Most visitors respond well to a friendly smile,’ Melinda said.
‘I know how much I enjoy a friendly face when I am away and, if I have time for a chat, I feel some visitors benefit from a laugh as much as information.’