Five minutes with Catherine Cardinet

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Catherine Cardinet is a Melbourne based tour guide with a difference. Speaking French, Russian and English, passionate about Australia’s sights and culture and capable of handling VIP clients with limousines and security as easily as taking a 48 seater busload of cruise liner passengers to the Yarra Valley for a close up with kangaroos, Catherine has seen and done everything worth doing in Melbourne over the last twenty years. We sat down with Catherine to discuss her fascinating career and get some insider travel tips for Melbourne. 

Q: What do you love about your job?

There’s so much to love about what I do. I love the exposure to clients from all walks of life and all origins. I love discovering new places in Melbourne and all around the country – with clients or without them! – and then being able to share those discoveries. It’s wonderful to be able to share my enthusiasm with my clients for the city that I call home.  


Q: What do you find challenging?

An enormous part of the appeal of Melbourne, and Australia generally, is that it’s such a unique place which makes it hard to quantify or describe, especially if you haven’t been here before. What I find challenging is clients who feel the need to match what they see when in Australia with the place they come from to somehow make it theirs. It is Melbourne, you can’t compare it to anywhere else on earth!

Q: What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your work?

The most rewarding past is when a client tells me ‘you made me fall in love with Melbourne’ – especially if they didn’t think much of it at first! Another really special thing is being able to form relationships with clients where they enjoyed my tour so much they extend an invitation to me to visit them and discover their part of the world. I’ve recently returned from Norway where I had the privilege of a former client giving me the local’s tour.


Q: What are some of your best travel tips for Melbourne that people may not necessarily know about?

The best times to experience the full glory of Melbourne is in either spring or autumn, particularly because all of the festivals are on. You can stay in the suburbs surrounding the city centre and tram into the city to experience our unique diversity of culture and cuisine as well as see our beautiful gardens at their best. Another particularly great aspect of Melbourne is the safety of the city. I always tell my clients to ‘get lost’ (in a nice way!) and dare to explore the laneways and turn unlikely corners. That’s how you make the most of it. 


To see more of Catherine’s adventures both in Melbourne and abroad, follow her on Instagram @catherinecardinet.


Emma Bartlett