After 40 highly successful years in business within the property sector, Bob Gartland’s focus has shifted away from commerce toward his lifelong passion for recording and collecting history, and a devotion to the Geelong community.
Bob’s fascination with and commitment to Australian football spans over six decades. His formal involvement with the game culminated in 12 years as a Director of the Geelong Football Club, including six years as Vice President. During this time, Bob founded the Geelong Football Club’s History Society, serving as its inaugural Chair. He also chaired the Club’s Honouring the Past Committee and its History and Tradition Committee. In 2017, Bob was inducted as a Life Member of the Geelong Football Club. Many historically significant projects were completed under Bob’s leadership in these various roles connected to GFC.
The National Trust has recognised Bob for his leading work in identifying important historical sites in the Geelong region. Bob is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades owing to more than 40 years of tireless service to his community.
‘The Gartland Collection’ is the world’s largest and most important private collection of historically and culturally important artefacts, objects, images, and sound recordings relating to Australian football. Curated by Bob personally, a sample of his unique collection went on public display at Geelong Gallery from September-November 2019. The exhibition attracted 12,000 visitors and received wide acclaim.
In a personal initiative, Bob successfully lobbied the Victorian State Government for $2.6 million in funding for the creation of the Geelong Sports Museum, scheduled to open in 2023 as part of the Stage 5 redevelopment of GMHBA Stadium (Kardinia Park). Bob is a key driver of the Geelong Sports Museum Reference Group, and he was named Kardinia Park Historian in 2022.
As the Founding Ambassador of Geelong’s new Anam Cara House Hospice (based at Deakin University, Waurn Ponds), Bob was instrumental in successfully advocating to both the federal and state government for $10 million in funding.
Bob currently is undertaking postgraduate studies in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies at Deakin, with longer-term plans to tackle a PhD on a topic involving the history of Australian football and his beloved Geelong Cats.