On the streets of Melbourne, with COVID empty, a busker never stops playing his guitar


When MCG hosts footy matches, Mineral hears the screams of the crowd as he walks through the Treasury and Fitzroy gardens. He is convinced that the “animal” roar of his fellow Tigers supporters generates the highest decibel reading.

Talking to tall, bearded and fierce music often becomes a history lesson for Melburnians who stop to chat; he seems to have an almost photographic memory of historical events, music, sport and city.

For the majority, who don’t stop, they can expect Mineral to arrange playful variations of the lyrics of the song he sings to apply to them (including Age the photographer Paul Jeffers, who experienced a serenade after photographing the busker on Friday night).

He explained that one of the last times the MCG did not host football matches was on the land was occupied by 200,000 troops during WWII, including U.S. forces led by the famous U.S. general Douglas MacArthur who fled Australia weeks before the Philippines collapsed.

Not since Melbourne faced such disruption. Reforms in the 1980s transformed the city from an insular manufacturing town to a thriving cosmopolitan hub.

Melbourne is Australia’s fastest growing municipality and the CBD had a million people passing through it every day before the pandemic prompted office workers to take home their laptops. Many Melburnians have partially walked the 3000 postcode from March 2020.

Last September the consultancy firm PwC was estimated Internal Melbourne will lose 79,000 jobs annually and bleed $ 110 billion in revenue over five years – worse than the recession in the 1990s and equal to the combined effects on the city of WWI and the flu pandemic.

CBD transfer had a supposedly positive effect of decentralize the city in villages, based around suburban job hubs and shopping stripes.

But the dream of a city planner is not to measure the unrelenting memories and cultural destruction associated with the CBD massacre in the best part of 18 months.

“One night I played ’till 6 in the morning. It was a magical night, everything flowed. It was like having a lot of money in [racehorse] Chautauqua on TJ Smith’s bets and he came from the clouds and won, ”Mineral said.

“And all of a sudden, you have 15 people dancing around you and then a friend crashes into his BMW at 6 in the morning and says we’re going to take you home. That feels so good, you can’t imitate it.”

Busker says the emptiness of the city hasn’t dampened his emotional state, but he misses the things that tickled him and I hope it’s only a few weeks away: live pub rock, the NGV, talking literature and politics at Wheeler Center and Bourke Street eateries like Pellegrini’s.

“I just acknowledge it – there aren’t a lot of people around … I still feel like I’m going to be charged and do the things I have to do,” he said.

“I’m excited for people to sing songs to me and sing with me.”

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the most important and interesting stories, reviews and insights of the day. Sign up here.

Leave a Comment