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Good neighbours, good friends

September 28, 2023

When John, Cheryl and Carol all moved to Halcyon Rise on their own, they never thought they’d become great friends with their closest neighbours.

John LeComte never thought he’d ever end up moving to Australia.

Having grown up in the Canterbury region of New Zealand, where he also met his wife Marilyn, whenever John was asked by his son-in-law when he’d finally move across the ditch, John would always say, “there are too many gumtrees and too many crocodiles for me!”

Even when Marilyn passed, John hoped to settle near Tauranga on New Zealand’s North Island.

However, life – and COVID – had other plans for John, and he eventually found himself securing a home at Halcyon Rise.

After returning to New Zealand and preparing for his international move, John arrived back in Australia and was driven to Halcyon Rise by his daughter, who he had specific instructions for.

“I put a sleeping mask over my eyes, and I told my daughter I didn’t want to see my place until it was right there in front of me,” John explains.

The moment John removed the mask and saw his new home, he said he felt an incredible wave of emotions rush over him.

“Honestly, I was speechless,” John reflects, with those same emotions seemingly rushing over him again as we speak.

“I felt like I was going to cry, mainly because my late wife Marilyn and I, we’d bought a brand new house before the children were born, and then shifted to Taupo where we stayed. That was John and Marilyn’s house, now of course it’s not Marilyn’s, it’s John’s house – just mine.”

John was one of the first homeowners to move into his area of Halcyon Rise and says that despite feeling like an outsider at first, he now feels like a strong member of the community.

He says he met his new neighbours – and friends – at a street party, one of whom happens to be fellow New Zealander, Carol Wilson.

Carol lives on the same street as John and moved to Australia 26 years ago with her late husband Barry.

They lived at Halcyon Waters together before moving to a unit in Wynnum to be closer to one of their daughters.

When Barry passed away, Carol moved in and out of different residences and even considered moving back to New Zealand until she settled at Halcyon Rise.

“I knew I was going to like it,” Carol explains.

“Having lived at Halcyon Waters many years ago, it was an easy decision to make, and I knew I absolutely made the right decision in moving here”.

Carol didn’t know anyone when she arrived, but now she’s become a very popular member of the Halcyon Rise community.

“I walk the dog a lot, and everyone knows me now,” Carol explains.

“I’ll be walking up and down the street and I’ll hear people saying, ‘Hi Carol, ‘Hello Carol’.”

As well as walking her schnauzer, Carol enjoys staying active by swimming at the pool and visiting the on-site gym.

“I swim 1km a week, I go to the gym two or three times a week to do weights, and I’m going to the movies every Wednesday night with people from the community, as well as playing pool every Sunday night.”

Like John, Carol has gotten to know quite a few of her neighbours, including Cheryl Budge, who lives directly next door to John.

Cheryl left the Australian Defence Force after 30 years of service, because she felt it was time to try something new.

“I wanted a new career, so I went to work in a prison, went to uni, and got my degree when I was 50,” Cheryl explains.

Cheryl graduated from James Cook University in Townsville with a Bachelor of Community Welfare, which then led to her working in child protection for over 17 years.

She officially retired in 2022 and decided to move to Halcyon Rise following a visit with a friend, who also happened to be searching for a new place to settle.

“I’d been to a lot of other places, like some of the other developments around this area, and met people and talked to them, but the day I came in here with one of my friends and met Andrew the Sales Representative, I walked out, sat in my car, and told my friend ‘this is it, this is where I want to live’,” Cheryl explains.

Cheryl never thought she’d live somewhere like Halcyon Rise, but says she enjoys the strong sense of community, which reminds her of her childhood.

“When I was a child, you knew everyone on the street, and you knew all your neighbours,” Cheryl says.

“As an adult, and even in Defence, (because they put their houses everywhere now), I didn’t know any of them, and the difference in here is I know all the people near me.”

Although Cheryl likes to stay busy, she’s found time to volunteer at many Halcyon Rise community events and says one of the best things about her new home is that every time she walks out the door, someone is willing to chat and get to know her.

“Now in society, people don’t tend to mix. They’ve got their own lives and they don’t have street parties; they don’t have barbecues, they don’t do what we used to do – it’s so different,” Cheryl says.

“Here, I know everyone down the street and even the married people will tell you to come in for a chat – it’s just so different, the whole atmosphere is so different.”

Despite all living separate lives, John, Carol, and Cheryl love the warm community at Halcyon Rise and agree that the friendliness of their neighbours, as well as the exciting activities available on their doorstep, are what makes their new home so special.