I grew up here. I went to primary and high school here. I now live here with my husband and children and commute to Melbourne most days to work. I'm constantly asked why I choose to live here. To me, it's obvious.
I grew up in the city in Myers Street, right on the corner of Latrobe Terrace, and the Geelong CBD was my local strip shop. Griffiths bookstore was a lovely, leadlight delight and the old post office on Gheringhap Street was a real post office where I bought and collected stamps. Across the road, an independent hardware store had creaky, well worn timber floors and smelt of dust. My first casual job was as a shoe salesperson at Bargain Shoes in Moorabool Street.
In the early 1990s, I saw how sad things were during the collapse of Pyramid. It also didn't help that the Cats kept losing in finals. But you re-bounded.
When I finished university my first job was as community liaison officer in the City of Greater Geelong. My first days in late 1995 saw Council face historic floods, financial instability and massive redundancies.
But through this there was vision for your waterfront. I saw all the barbed wire surrounding the yacht club come down and Eastern Beach revitalised. The water became part of the narrative and development on the waterfront grew.
Today, we are facing challenges with daily news about closures, redundancies, re-structures. But Geelong, don't be sad. You are beautiful in your resilience and your weight of potential.
You have already so much to build on:
- A strong educational sector with a major university and TAFE college and world recognised schools;
- Booming health services;
- Diverse transport infrastructure with an airport, fast train to Melbourne and deep port (the envy of other regions);
- A stunning north-facing waterfront;
- Growing population; and
- A successful football team (now with gleaming lights!)
Both State and Federal Governments are focusing on you and can clearly see the need to provide support through some tough times. Let's embrace that support with hope and imagination. There are so many people who love you Geelong who now need to be vocal about where they see its potential and economic transition.
For my part, I see you with a thriving CBD built on a changing mix of professional services, students in residence and retail. The new cultural and heritage centre will glisten in Johnstone Park and attract visitors far and wide. You will support people throughout the country who live daily with disability.
I choose to live here because you are a city with urban dreams and a rural heart. And now I'm determined to bring my work back home to you.
In the coming months I will be planning to open an office here for the company I work for. I want it to help grow the business locally and service our regional clients, but also support the next generation of local professionals who want to work in my industry.
Geelong, don't be sad.