Life in the city delivered many wonderful rewards, but life in retirement in Mudgee continues to be richly rewarding for Lynne and Rob Waller.
Lynne and Rob first caught one another’s eye in Castle Hill, Sydney. Lynne was born in Kurri Kurri in the Hunter Region, but being the daughter of a Methodist/Uniting Church Minister, she moved around a fair bit. Rob was born in Auburn, Sydney, to parents who were teachers, but his family moved no further than to other Sydney suburbs.
After finishing school, Lynne became a secretary, working at Rheem Australia for 12 years from age 16. She left Rheem in 1986 – her and Rob had married by then and she was expecting their son Stephen.
Rob studied Arts at university after leaving school, and later Law. He loved working in law from day one and was never tempted to change career. He initially worked in litigation, as all new graduates seemed to do, before specialising in equity law and working in family law.
Thirteen years ago, Lynne and Rob decided to follow their dream and leave the city behind.
“We’d always wanted to move to the country and Mudgee was the town for us,” says Lynne. “We built a house there and my Mum came to live with us. Stephen was 21 by this time, and he came too.”
Lynne and Rob both continued to work after their move. Lynne worked part-time at the local high school as well as a local café. Rob continued in law, finding the courage to go out on his own and work from home during the last seven years of his career.
“Some heart issues about 10 years ago brought me to a crossroad and retirement seemed like the best option,” says Rob. “Life continued to be very busy though – I became involved in a range of wonderful U3A activities. Before I knew it, one thing led to another and I was also visiting residents in a local nursing home on a regular basis – that was very interesting.”
As time marched on, it was becoming more difficult for Rob to manoeuvre the mower around the yard, and the home maintenance was becoming more difficult to manage. Lynne’s Mum had moved into aged care and Stephen, who has a mild intellectual disability, was living in a supported living setting and thriving. Lynne and Rob decided it was time for them to downsize.
At first, they considered moving to a unit or an over 55s complex, but when they were introduced to Oak Tree Mudgee at a Mudgee Field Day, they knew it was right for them.
“We were the first residents to buy here, but the second ones to move in – we watched the site’s development,” says Rob.
“We put our house on the market and it did seem to take longer to sell than we expected, but at the same time, once it sold, we did wonder whether our villa would be built in time. It all fell into place perfectly, but it if hadn’t, Oak Tree was quite happy for us to go to one of their villages in Dubbo, Bathurst or Orange for a short time. As is always the case, they had already thought of every possibility and had them all covered.”
“The day we were first introduced to Oak Tree, we really liked that we wouldn’t have to worry about anything again,” says Lynne. “We could see we’d have our own space and yet we’d be part of a lovely community. With Rob’s health not getting any better, this was especially important for me.”
“We also liked that there would be no rates or water bills. We just pay a small levy instead. We have solar panels on the roof. If anything breaks, it’s fixed immediately. The villas are lovely and large and one level. We’ve got the bowling green and pool to use and there are plenty of activities to join in with.”
“Even with COVID, some things have been able to continue, we now just do them at a distance. We feel very safe and secure and know that the rules will be followed to a tee.”
With so little to worry about, Lynne and Rob have time to continue doing what they enjoy. They are both very involved at Mudgee Uniting Church and Lynne in the wider Uniting Church as well. Lynne also belongs to a local community choir. Together they have many friends to visit and who call on them.
Rarely a day goes by when their Border Collie Kelpie Cross Lucy misses out on a walk. At 12 years of age, she’s still very active. She also comes from movie royalty – she’s the granddaughter of Fly, the Border Collie in the famous Australian movie Babe. This could be why Lucy and Stephen get along so well. Rob says Stephen is as friendly as a fly, and always has a smile and friendly word for everyone he meets. Additionally, Stephen’s contribution to the local performing arts community has also seen him awarded Mudgee Young Citizen of the Year.