“You feel part of something bigger, something with a pulse”

By David Schout

For many people with young families, COVID-19 restrictions have been both a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, being bound to a confined space for extended periods of time has tested patience levels.

But on the other, parents have been able to spend large amounts of quality time with their kids – a luxury rarely afforded during the business of day-to-day life. 

McKillop St resident Michael Munson has experienced these ups and downs during the past two months.  

More positively, the ABC employee has been able to spend lots of time with his six-year-old son.

“There’s been some really nice bonding during this time,” he told CBD News.

“It’s not often you get to spend so much time with your kids. Everyone works all the time these days, so you never really get a chance to slow down.”

But lockdown has also been tough, for him, his partner and son. 

In particular, a 14-hour weekday window for construction work during the pandemic (the City of Melbourne is allowing work from 6am to 8pm) has made things especially difficult.

And with at least four construction sites within a 50-metre radius of his apartment in the Excelsior building, continuous disruption has drained him.  

“It’s been pretty horrific actually. The levels of noise and rumbling in the house has been quite amazing.

“It’s caused stress for everyone. We’re not the only ones either; there’s other kids in the building. There are high school kids and two who are starting uni this year in lockdown, too. You’ve got families working from home with their kids – it’s all a bit of a pressure cooker.”

Michael said the current situation was the worst it had been in his 10 years in the CBD.

“The only good thing among all this is that the works might be over with quicker.”

A decade ago, he and his partner stumbled upon their apartment, which sits between Bourke and Little Collins streets, and were surprised at both the size and price, which was far more affordable than the inner suburbs.

They took a punt, and haven’t looked back.

He described the city – despite the current situation – as “exciting” and “stimulating”.

“We like being around people. When we go away then come back, there’s always a realisation that this is good place to live,” he said. 

“You feel a part of something bigger, something with a pulse.”

Michael and his partner, a contemporary dancer and choreographer, both work close to the city, and spend little time commuting.

They don’t own a car and get by walking, cycling or taking public transport.

They also do their shopping at Queen Victoria Market – nicely ticking the boxes of quintessential CBD living. 

Perhaps most pleasing to them is that, despite being surrounded by high-rise buildings, there’s a collective spirit with those nearby. 

“Within our building there’s a really strong sense of community. There are other families, many who work in really interesting areas. We often get together.”

Many are owner-occupiers (something he said was “probably unique”) who have lived in the same apartment for well over a decade. 

“I have more of a sense of community now than when I lived in Prahran because you’re bumping into people all the time.”

A lifetime musician, Michael works as a sound librarian at the ABC.

This journey began in his university days, when during a period on exchange at the University of California San Diego he “walked into a job” in the music department.

When he returned home he found jobs in different music libraries around town, before landing the position at the national broadcaster. 

There he works in a team of four, looking after the entire network of audio for both TV and radio.

“It’s quite a rare job I guess. I don’t know many others. Right now it’s really busy. Music is back,” he said with a laugh.

“There’s a lot of request shows and people playing music, I guess, to fill some air time. We’re flat out.”

As a long-term CBD resident, he feels strongly that everyone needs to be doing more to address homelessness within the Hoddle Grid. 

“We are extremely privileged to have a home in the Melbourne CBD as so many sleep rough. We need to find a place for these people to call home for any repair to begin.” •

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