Settling by the seaside at Bongaree
For Bolton Clarke Bongaree resident Wendy, life has been full of adventure and lots of love from her family. Wendy lived in Papua New Guinea and Toowoomba before finally coming to retire in Bolton Clarke’s Bongaree community on the beautiful Bribie Island.
Growing up in Ipswich, Wendy studied as a primary school teacher before signing up to teach overseas with Methodist Mission Education. Her assignment placed her in the southern highlands of Papua New Guinea, near Mount Hagen.
“I didn’t know much about it, but I thought of palm trees and beaches and those romantic type of things,” she says.
“Now I look back at the expanse of everything I took on, it’s no wonder my parents were worried about me. But as a young thing I was just going for an adventure, and it was very different to what I imagined! In the southern highlands it was perpetual spring and I was living at the height of Mount Kosciuszko.”
And adventure she found – after working in the school for three years, Wendy met her husband Godfrey who was a Welshman working in the government offices.
“It was a great education and lifestyle for all of us young people at the time,” Wendy said.
“We both went over there for an adventure and ended up getting married and having three children over there in the highlands!”
Returning to Australia after Papua New Guinea gained independence in 1975, the family settled in Toowoomba where Wendy continued to teach, and Godfrey took up a job working in the library at the University. Once their children had finished their education, the couple looked toward their next step - retirement.
“Godfrey wanted to retire near the coast because he had grown up by the sea in Wales, so Bribie Island was it for us.
“We bought a home on the island and about a year and a half later Godfrey had a stroke.”
Managing the maintenance of a two-storey house with a pool and a backyard was difficult as the pair navigated changing health needs.
“We needed to think about going to a place where we weren’t responsible for the roof over our head,” Wendy says.
“We didn’t want to leave the island and we were very happy to come here to Bongaree. We put our name on the list and waited for a unit to become available.
“Godfrey has now moved to a higher care facility on the Island, so it is especially comforting not having to worry about anything. It’s also nice to have close neighbours and company that is not far away. I feel very lucky.”
With the pressure of maintaining a house off her shoulders, Wendy is now able to have a more ‘elastic’ lifestyle – one that still allows her to visit her husband of 54 years every day.
“Sharon, the Village Manager, does a beautiful job. She is such a blessing and having her around makes a big difference to how you relax in your own environment,” she said.
“It’s a very easy place to live. I feel safe, I can be social, and you always see people walking past your front door which is nice when after 50 years you haven’t got someone in the house with you.”