by Valerie

A little about me and Geoff

My name is Valerie Gear and I am 66 years old, and my partner of 32 years is Geoff Hooker. I had a motorbike accident while out riding with friends on a beautiful winter’s day, on 1 June 2003.

I became a T7 incomplete paraplegic. My life changed, but my disability did not stop me. Geoff and I have been on cruises to Vanuatu, New Caledonia & the Pacific Islands, and New Zealand. We have been to Tasmania twice. I have been skiing at Falls Creek. We have gone to numerous concerts, and theatre shows. We love going to the cricket in the summer at Marvel Stadium, and the rugby games in the winter at AAMI Park. 

We started off with a camper trailer, then bought a campervan, and now we have a custom made fully self-contained 21ft caravan, which we have loved travelling around in, across Victoria and New South Wales. 

Regular activities and social connection are big pluses to retirement village living for Valerie and Geoff.

Challenging misconceptions

We built a five bedroom house in Roxburgh Park in August 1997, because we had four children. After the children had become adults and moved out, the house was very large – and lonely. For years I kept suggesting to Geoff that we should sell our house and downsize, and move into a retirement village, but he was not ready. 

He had too many cherished memories in that house, and did not want to give them up. He also thought retirement villages were for old people that were retired. Which is incorrect. In most retirement villages, as long as one of you is 55 or over, you can move into a retirement village, and you don’t have to be retired!

The community centre in the middle of the estate is a buzz of activity. 

A perfect fit

A few years on, in May 2021 covid times, we were out driving, and I suggested we look at some of the retirement villages in the area. We went to three different villages in Epping, Wollert, and Craigieburn. The next day while Geoff was at work, I went to the village in Coolaroo, and then to the village in Roxburgh Park. 

When I got to the village in Roxburgh Park the Sales Manager took me to a two bedroom house, and as soon as I entered the front door I knew it was for us.

I did not have to look at any other houses. It had no steps. Everywhere was flat, the door openings were 120cm wide, and all the rooms were big, so I could get around easily in my wheelchair. The beautifully landscaped grounds of the estate were fully wheelchair accessible. Because we were already living in Roxburgh Park, I had my local Doctor, and Chemist there. I knew where to get public transport, and I knew the shopping centres in the area. 

When Geoff got home I told him. He had a look at the house on the following Saturday, and as soon as he saw it he said  ‘where do I sign?’ It was a hard time moving. It was covid, and Geoff had to do most of the moving himself, as all our children lived in the country, and they were not allowed to come into the Melbourne suburbs. On top of that we had curfew, but we both managed to do it, and the rest is history.

I’d like to tell you a bit about this house and community we’ve found, in the Bridgewater Lake Retirement Estate in Roxburgh Park. 

Valerie loves being able to explore the estate on a network of accessible paths.

The culture and amenities

The people who live at Bridgewater Lake are a close bunch. They are just naturally friendly, and supportive of each other. You can’t manufacture that sort of environment. It just has to evolve naturally. 

Part of what may have created this wonderful sense of fellowship is Club Bridgewater, which is the Community Centre. It is quite literally at the heart of the estate, and a thriving hub for activities. Call in here anytime, and you won’t be friendless for long. 

The residents operate the bar themselves, so it is a convenient ‘local’ to share drinks, with Happy Hour on Fridays, and Sunday evenings. If you prefer a cuppa or cappuccino there is Geri’s Cafe. The communal barbeque also proves very popular for Big Breakfasts, and Sausage Sizzles. 

The wealth of facilities keeps Valerie and Geoff more than occupied. 

The activities

The biggest problem to be dealt with though, is deciding what to do next. On any given day, you could work out in the gym, have a swim in the heated indoor pool, or relax in the spa. You could play billiards, or darts in the billiard area, or have a go at indoor carpet bowls, or outside lawn bowls. 

Alternatively you could unleash your creative side by joining the passionate arts and crafts groups, or you may prefer to exercise your mind in the library with a book, or a game, or access the internet. For those times when you would rather turn off your mind, there is a Foxtel Theatre Media Room. 

The spacious lounge, and dining area with its enormous dance floor has been the scene of many a merry function. Many events, and functions that are celebrated each year are, Australia Day, Labour Day, Anzac Day, Mother’s Day, Mid Year Dinner, Father’s Day, AFL Grand Final, Melbourne Cup, and Christmas Dinner.

There is also a visiting hairdresser and podiatrist, and there is a community vegetable garden, and a village bus which goes to the local shopping centres every Mondays, and Fridays.

Transport and local amenities

It is hard to imagine being amongst all of this, and you are just 20 kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD, and 20 minutes to the airport. There is excellent access in any direction via Sydney Road/Hume Highway adjacent to Roxburgh Park, and nearby Western Ring Road. The Roxburgh Park, and Craigieburn railway station on the Craigieburn line has made getting into the city a breeze. 

Roxburgh Park Shopping Centre is close at hand, and so is Craigieburn Central, Epping Plaza, and Broadmeadow Shopping Centre. They are only a short drive, train, or bus trip away. There you’ll find specialty stores, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, and a range of health, and medical services that care for the community.

The houses

There are two bedrooms, two bedroom plus study, and three bedroom residences. Houses range from 183 square metres to 102 square metres, and prices range from $420k to $510k. Each house has its own number, and street address. 

There is a monthly maintenance fee for the upkeep of the gardens, and the community centre, and facilities. You can also feel secure in the knowledge that your safety is a priority, with external video surveillance, and boom gate entry control to the village.

Reach out

If you think a similar move might be right for you, I’d be more than happy to chat through any questions or concerns you have. Get in touch on [email protected]

  • March 6, 2024

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