Introducing A to Z of Wollongong podcast

Meet my side project, The A to Z of Wollongong podcast. It promises to be a collection of highlights from the creative, business and innovation streets within the Illawarra fresh for your ears. 

COVID-19 has put a halt to exploring Wollongong as much as I would like. My partner, Richard and I have really enjoyed seeing the streets of Wollongong and the Illawarra as a playground. Since moving here in 2014, I realise just how attached I have become to the city I now call home.

I haven’t felt this way about a place since the Redfern days. I loved Redfern for its vibrancy, energy and creativity. The community was amazing. From gigs using the back of semi trailers as stages for the then undiscovered Mr Percival through to the first small bars, it was a place where people felt welcome.

That’s why I started My Redfern Rocks on Twitter and Facebook. The idea was to use social media to break down some of the misconceptions, stigma and prejudices associated with the area. My Redfern Rocks was my way of demonstrating there was more to the suburb than negative headlines and preconceived ideas. It worked not only to highlight the area in a positive manner, but to also help me connect to it.

The A to Z of Wollongong podcast banner features a shot of the Illawarra coastline with notable suburbs such as Bulli, Windang, Scarborough, Kiama and Wollongong featured
Art by Jessica Harkins of Six Onions design.

Why the A to Z of Wollongong podcast?

Wollongong and the Illawarra don’t suffer from the same sort of unfair labels that Redfern had back in the day. It does however share the same raw beauty and enthusiasm for ideas I saw reflected in Redfern and surrounds.

We also realised while at the amazing Reub Goldberg Brew Machine in Tarrawanna, we didn’t know how to complete the alphabet of Wollongong suburbs beyond the places we regularly frequented or lived (Bulli, Russell Vale and finally, the home of Hockey Dad, Windang). So, we decided to change that.

In the Illawarra, there is a plethora of ideas, quirky businesses, startups, artisans and personalities. There’s a great mix of people who are all going about their daily lives with a simple, honest creativity.

In this awesome area wedged between mountains and beaches, ocean pools and lakes, I want to explore ideas, concepts and people. It’s sort of like what would happen if say Ideas Hoist and 52 Suburbs had a night on the tequila and something magical happened. Only instead of photos, it’s more like the stories (and the podcasts) of the land.

Intrigued? I know I am excited by the prospect and hope you will be too!

In fact, so intrigued and supportive are the locals that this project received funding from Culture Bank Wollongong. We’re absolutely humbled beyond belief to receive it, too. Oh, and considering it is a crowdfunding microfund, I strongly suggest you support it so other people in the Illawarra can receive support for their ideas, too.

What to expect

I think the days of working with CM Murphy with Petrol Records as a client have rubbed off on me. My sincere hope for the A to Z of Wollongong is for it to be a culture guide. That little audio flipbook you listen to in order to learn the great places to go, get up close and personal with the creative, and explore the Illawarra with your ears in a way that you can’t do under COVID-19.

We walk past amazing bars and cafes, bakers and cocktail shakers, silver artists and succulent growers, musicians, writers, creative endeavours, food producers and creative artisans all the time in the Illawarra. From Helensburgh and Scarborough and Austinmer in the north to the streets of Wollongong, Windang, The Farm and Kiama and surrounds in the south, we have some truly talented people sharing their creativity. We have startup culture mixed with cupcake artists and everything in between. There’s festivals, celebrations and amazing people doing their thing to make the Illawarra a great place to live.

And I’d love to shine a light on that.

I will be walking up to some sexy local businesses and sassy, quirky individuals asking for their gracious hand in interview soon. In the meantime, if you have a suggestion for someone, some place or some organisation that should be interviewed, I am all ears. Please, send the stories through here.

This is for me, too. I am by nature actually quite shy. So setting myself a mission to meet the people of Wollongong and the Illawarra and discover their stories is a way of breaking through that native introversion.

Who am I looking for with the a to z of wollongong podcast 

To give you an idea, we are happy to let you know that we’ve already collected amazing interviews from the likes of Indigenous artist Zac from Saltwater Dreamtime, about beekeeping, swapping at Make Do Library of Things, Wollongong Comedy, the Creative Corners project in Austinmer, The Servo Food Truck Bar, The Gong’s Great Clothes Swap, the university, on the local vegan scene, The Illawarra Music Foundry, Green Connect, makers of such great documentaries as Women of Steel, the local music scene, startups and more.

We want to continue this and hear from all kinds of people in the Illawarra such as:

  • Local artisans and craft people doing super cool things
  • Indigenous story tellers who can fill us up with culture, stories and creativity
  • Anyone in the Illawarra startup and/or entrepreneurship space
  • Unusual businesses, especially those with a community angle
  • Any community organisation giving back to the people of the area
  • Local heroes and/or people with history rich stories to tell
  • Artists, musicians, theatre makers and all round creative critters
  • The graffiti scene and public place makers
  • The sustainability scene
  • The groovers doing pop up work or cracking the business nut in a different way
  • Festival producers, venues and pop up organisers
  • Bars, cafes, venues and so on

Would you like to be profiled on the A to Z of Wollongong podcast or have a suggestion for someone who might? Give us a holler via this survey. 

Please supply your contact details via this quick survey. 

And if you want to follow along as the journey unfolds, join the We are the Gong Facebook page and follow the We are the Gong Twitter.  And you can follow along via my personal Instagram of UnashamedlyCreative 


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