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Bert Newton: Sanctuary for former aged care nurse

Written by Margot Taylor
on March 07, 2024

Virginia Thiessen has found her "little piece of Heaven" amongst the gum trees at Bert Newton Retirement Village.

The former aged care nurse swapped a four-bedroom home in Glen Waverley for a light-filled three-bedroom apartment at the village last June.

“I just never wanted my children to get a phone call saying ‘your mum’s had a fall, you’ve got to find a bed for her’,” Virginia said.


While Ryman’s Nellie Melba, Weary Dunlop and John Flynn villages were closer to the home she had built with late husband Tony, and lived in for 43 years, the move to Bert Newton meant she was closer to family.

“Once my husband died it became a house, not a home,” she said.

“When I heard there was going to be a Ryman in Highett and my family are in Elwood, I knew I’d never get any closer.

“But I didn’t want to be in their backyard.”

Now spontaneous gatherings for a roast meal, or taking grandchildren to sports practice, which were previously restricted by a 40-minute drive, are regular occurrences.

Virginia is also relishing the sense of community developing at the village.

“For me the move is what I dreamed of doing, and here I am,” she said.

“I call it my little piece of Heaven because it’s quiet, it’s warm, it’s community and it’s convenient because everything in the area is close by.”

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In the coming months this sense of community will develop further with the opening of amenities including an indoor pool, café, and gardens.

“I can’t wait to take a glass of wine and a chair outside and have someone yell out ‘I’ll come down and join you in five minutes’,” she said.

The move has enabled Virginia to reflect on the many adventures she has had and the adventures to come.

“When I retired at 55, we bought a 17.5 ft caravan and for 19 years we’d go away in it to amazing places.”

From the comfort of her apartment Virginia is sorting through photos taken during her many precious trips with Tony.

With the ability to simply close her door and not worry about the security or maintenance of her apartment, Virginia will embark on two trips this year, The Ghan train journey with friends from Probus and to Japan.

She gets great comfort from knowing when such trips are no longer possible, she is in a community of care.

“I worked in aged care all my working life,” she said.

“I have gained such internal peace from being here because this address will be my address until the day I die.

“I make light of it, I’m living independently, and I’ll go to assisted living when I need it and after that I’ll go to the dying room anyway,” she laughed.

Her advice for others considering a similar move is simple.

“Do it,” she said.

“Don’t hesitate.”

Find out more about Bert Newton Retirement Village.

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