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First residents move into Yarra Rossa and enjoy the stunning surrounds

After years in the planning and a few years of construction BaptistCare’s newest retirement village in the ACT, Yarra Rossa, now has residents living onsite.

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Yarra Rossa Hero

17 June 2022

News | Retirement Living, BaptistCare

Yarra Rossa is built on the historic site of our former Morling Lodge, the first aged care home in Canberra. The site has a strong history of community and care, which will continue for our new residents in the leafy suburb of Red Hill.

After years in the planning and a few years of construction BaptistCare’s newest retirement village in the ACT, Yarra Rossa, now has residents living onsite.

The first residents started moving in on Tuesday 26 April and will continue throughout May and the first week of June in stages, as the residents of the 70 sold apartments move in to their new homes.

On the first moving day, the restaurant and café area was ready and waiting for its new customers, with one group enjoying morning tea, lunch and afternoon coffees. Our local Chaplain was also onsite to greet residents.

“The day went really smoothly, it was busy, there was a great energy around the village as well as a feeling of being welcomed home for our new residents. We also received lots of compliments about the coffee being good!” said Averil Gillham, Operations Manager, BaptistCare Retirement Living.

One resident, Gladys Bergerson, has been waiting six years to move in, and was the first resident to place her deposit and moved in on the first day. Gladys was at the opening of Morling Lodge in 1968, her beloved husband lived at BaptistCare Morling Lodge, and now she returns to the site as a resident of the beautiful new village. We asked Gladys why she was determined to wait so long.

“I’m a Baptist born and bred, very local to the Baptist denomination and my father was a Baptist minister, so you couldn’t get more Baptist! The site of Yarra Rossa is also the place where the old Morling Lodge was and I was at the opening of the Morling Lodge in 1968, doing the morning tea for the day and I have been part of the Ladies’ Auxiliary ever since. Then when my husband needed nursing home care, ten or eleven years ago, he went into Morling Lodge, so this place holds special significance for me.

“I’m very independent and I have lived in Canberra for 68 years now and I have wonderful friends in Canberra and didn’t want to move out of Canberra. I had a very nice and comfortable apartment that was very central, that was in the middle of the Parliamentary Circle actually but everyone who lived there worked during the day, often at Parliament House, so I never saw anybody. I had friends move into another village and they asked me, “Why don’t you come too?” and I said, “No, I’m loyal to the Baptists and I’m waiting”. So I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting. So to get here and move in has been wonderful,” said Gladys.

Yarra Rossa features 100 one, two and three-bedroom apartments. The community facilities include a pool, gym, café, community garden, bocce court, a clubhouse (called “Conjola”, after the National Park familiar to many Canberrans) and bowling green.

There’s also a library, hair and beauty salon, a private village green, a walking track, outdoor chess, a workshop and an alfresco dining area with a pizza oven and BBQ for residents to enjoy.

Gladys noted that the help of BaptistCare staff have has eased the chaos of moving, and she was grateful to have her son and daughter-in-law come down from Sydney for a few days to help her unpack.

“You have in your head that moving is chaotic and stressful and at the end of the first day, you have to make sure your bed is set up so you can sleep at the end of it! Being the age I am though, you think you will get through a certain amount of things, but then you do a few things and realise you can’t get it all done and need to sit and rest and have a cup of tea! The staff here have been very helpful, Stephen (Village Manager) has been very helpful.

“We have a maintenance man here who used to be the maintenance man at Griffith and Fred’s been wonderful, carrying things whenever I needed help. I went downstairs just before to meet some friends who were moving in and they had boxes everywhere and I really felt for them – and that was me a week ago! My son and his wife came down from Sydney for two days and helped me enormously unpacking, so that was wonderful,” said Gladys.

Gladys is enjoying the view from her apartment over Red Hill, but hasn’t yet had a chance to meet many residents yet, although she is hopeful that will change as more residents finish unpacking.

“I’m happy with my unit, the apartments look over the central courtyard that has a bocce court and a village green but, I haven’t seen a soul making use of them since it’s too early and everyone is unpacking! My balcony looks out on the central courtyard where the bowling strip and all these things are, which is very nice. I also have quite a nice view over the top of the apartment buildings over Red Hill,” explained Gladys.

Gladys shared with us that, at 94, she is grateful to God for allowing her to have good health to be able to move into Yarra Rossa and she is looking forward to meeting new friends and being in the company of other residents.

“Fortunately God allowed me good health in these years to make it to today, to live at Yarra Rossa, for which I am very thankful, so I feel blessed. To me of course it has an emotional tie for me as well, as my husband passed away here, so it was strong emotional ties for me.

“I’m looking forward to meeting other residents down in the club house, having tea and coffee together. I know there’s very keen book club members, so maybe a book club will start, or a Bible study – that would be nice. I have come here with the idea that it will be more company, so hopefully there’s people who are like-minded.

“It’s really early days yet to give an overview of what the complex feels like, with everyone moving in. Hopefully we’ll all get to know each other soon – it would be rather nice to have a few little groups that meet up. I’m looking forward to getting to know people.

Congratulations to Gladys and all of the residents along with our BaptistCare Yarra Rossa staff as they continue to welcome residents to their new homes, in the stunning surrounds of Yarra Rossa.