You can hear it in the fervent, smiling chatter at Nellie Melba’s Thursday evening Happy Hour: friendships are forming, a community is coming together and, just two months after the first residents moved in, the whole is already greater than the sum of its parts.
More than 45 people now call the village home, and weekly Happy Hours and morning teas are helping residents get to know each other better.
Among the Nellie Melba “pioneers” enjoying drinks and nibbles at a recent Happy Hour is Elaine Waterworth, who moved into the village with her husband, Peter, about five weeks earlier.
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“I think having the morning teas and Happy Hours is a good idea because you do get to know people,” Elaine says, raising her voice to be heard above the chatter. “We’ve had a few people in for coffee, and we’ve been to other people’s places, which is good.
“We’re keen to get to know people – they’re all very friendly and lovely.”
Moving in went “smoothly”, but after decades in their old house it’s sometimes hard to believe the new apartment - “roomier and more comfortable than we could have imagined” – is theirs.
“It still takes a while to get used to it. I guess I feel like I’m on a holiday and when is it going to end? But the longer you stay the more you realise this is home now. It’s lovely.”
Ellen Smoorenburg, Peter Waterworth and Max Beattie get to know each other better during Happy Hour
Robin Bray has been in the village with his wife, Rosemary, for only a couple of weeks but “from day one we felt like we were home”.
He was particularly impressed with how easy Ryman made the transition from their old home to their new Nellie Melba apartment.
“The idea of getting your keys seven days before you have to pay is great because it meant we were able to move stuff in over that seven-day period,” Robin says.
“Two days before we officially moved in we brought the truck in with the big furniture and with the help we got from the [staff] here getting it up and getting it in, it all ran just like clockwork.
“By the day we had to pay we were virtually fully moved in. We hit the ground running.”
And with the big move now comfortably behind them, he and Rosemary are looking forward to immersing themselves in village life.
“We’re going to love it here, I think it’s a great place. Everyone’s very friendly and wanting to make new friends – it’s great.”
Village manager Bronwyn Fox says after just a couple of months “our pioneering residents have settled in well and have already formed a happy and welcoming community”.
“Our gatherings are characterised by the buzz of conversation and much laughter as residents become more familiar with one another and our small team of staff.
“Together we have the privilege of shaping it to be a place of belonging for many.”