Through a new podcast series, AFL great Barry Stoneham is exploring what and who are responsible for making this region the fastest growing in Australia.
From business and tourism, to politics, art and of course sports - ‘City of dreams’ sees the former Cats captain and Point Lonsdale resident chatting with notable locals to learn what it is they do and why they live where they live.
Russ Watson, owner of the hugely-popular ‘The Whiskery’, Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher and Lon Retreat owner Claire Gemes are among those to have featured in the podcast’s first episodes.
“There’s plenty of stories around a huge amount of content,” he says. “I think having lived here, especially being here full time last year, I hear some good stories and have a good knowledge of what’s going on around the region, stories that others may not necessarily know.
“A lot of people have made a success of what they’re doing in a whole range of areas, and I don’t just mean high profile people,” Barry said.
Born and educated in Geelong, Barry played 241 games with Geelong and captained the side between 1995 and 98. He was named best-and-fairest award in 1990, and made the All-Australian team in 1992 and represented Victoria seven times. He was also named at centre half-forward in Geelong’s Team of the Century.
And while he retains strong links with the club, his interests and connections run far deeper.
“I don’t pretend to know a lot about the arts, but I’m interested in some of the people and stories and this region boasts some of the best galleries anywhere, whether it be Salt right here, or Boom or through the Geelong Arts Centre, it’s one of those areas where I personally want to know more and want to share those stories,” Barry said.
“There’s also tourism, which is such a big part of the region, and business - there are people who were maybe born and raised here, started a business or have achieved in other ways. There’s so much to talk about.
“Having lived and worked in Melbourne in recent years, when you talk to your work colleagues about Geelong, they aren’t aware of some of the stories. There are people who think it’s still a long way away and once they get down here and see what’s on offer, I changes their mindset.”
The timing for the podcast could not be better, with the pandemic and low interest rates driving an influx of newcomers to the region.
For Barry, who moved to Point Lonsdale permanently just over 12 months ago having loved and being a frequent visitor over many years, 2020 served as a reminder of just how special this part of the world is.
“Lonnie has always been special, I have close friends down here and have been coming for many years. Me and [partner] Leanne brought a place four years ago but moving down and living here over the last 12 months, you just appreciate it more.
“And that’s sort of where the idea for the podcast came from. I just sort of thought, hang on, there’s a lot more to this place than meets the eye.”
The City of Dreams podcast series is available on Spotify via the City of Dreams Instagram page - cityofdreams.podcast