A mammoth round-the-world trip inspired Werribee’s Mark Elevato to pursue a career in the travel industry.
The 37-year-old sat down with Charlene Macaulay to talk about travel, hiking and his family.

You were born and bred in Werribee. What was Werribee like when you were a kid?

Very different – a lot quieter, and probably a bit safer, but I think that’s the same everywhere. You could ride your bike 10 kilometres away and you’d only come back when the street lights came on. It had that real community feel – everything revolved around schools and sports.

You’re a self-employed travel agent. How did you get into the industry?

At 20, I didn’t know what I was doing with my life and I decided to go for a holiday, which turned into living in London for a year. It was the best thing I ever did. It was a round-the-world trip … I went to Indonesia, and right throughout Asia and Egypt, then to Europe. When I got back, everyone was asking my advice and I fell into it after that. Now I run my own business in partnership with Travel Managers.

What holidays do you have planned for this year?

I don’t yet! It’s hard with two kids aged three and one – Charlie and Max. That’s slowed down the travel a little bit for me. But we’ll probably go to Fiji or somewhere in the middle of the year.

You and your wife Melissa had a long-distance courtship. Tell me more.

I met my wife Melissa on a cruise, actually. She’s from central New South Wales … we met and didn’t call each other or anything for about four years. Then it just so happened that we started talking … I went up to Wollongong to see her and within six months she moved down to Werribee.

When we were dating, I was going back and forward every weekend. I’d finish on a Friday and drive or fly to Wollongong for the weekend, then come home. It was an eight-hour drive. We used to meet in Albury as well, because it was a halfway point. I think the guy that used to run the caravan park that we used to stay at thought we were having an affair. But we explained to him that no, we were only seeing each other.

What are some of your hobbies, apart from travelling?

I do like my hiking. We take the boys up to the You Yangs most weekends. Before the kids came along, me and my wife used to go everywhere for our hikes. We had a little book that had the 20 hardest and best walks in Australia, and we got through 12 or 13 or them.

If you could change anything about Wyndham, what would it be?

I’d love to see Station Place closed off to cars and have a big piazza with restaurants and cafes. You go to Europe and many cities have a big, central piazza or square or community area … I think that’s what is lacking in Werribee.