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10 years of Freshwater living

09 Jul 2015

10 years of Freshwater living Image

Feature by Sean Car

As Freshwater Place approaches its 10-year anniversary this month, Southbank Local News caught up with the building’s first ever resident Irene Ward to reflect on her time living at one of Southbank’s most prominent residential towers.  
July 15 marks 10 years since Irene and her late husband Maurice moved into Freshwater Place in 2005 and she explained that, back then, things were very different.

“Of course there was nobody here,” she said. “We came in and I thought I wonder if I can hear the lifts because they’re just behind the wall and when I didn’t hear the lifts I was rapt!”

“Then I thought, silly me there’s nobody else using the lifts!”

“We would go up on level 10 and sit in the little arm chairs that they used to have up there and watch people come by. As the new people came in they’d walk past and we’d get to know them and just gradually made a lot of friends.”

Having moved from a large property in Forest Hill, Irene told Southbank Local News that the decision to downsize 10 years ago had not been an easy one.

“We wanted to downsize but the downsizing was a bit of an adjustment going from three or four bedrooms and a quarter acre block and housing all of the family cars and so forth, so this was a downsize and a half!”
she said.

However, after exploring Melbourne for the best options, she said she and her husband immediately fell in love with Freshwater Place.

According to Irene, Maurice, who sadly passed away in 2012, didn’t waste any time in getting involved with the Freshwater Place owners’ corporation.

Having made a career as an engineer, she said he had quickly developed a strong interest in understanding everything about the building, which made him a wonderful asset to the committee.

“He was on the committee from the very beginning and he loved it,” she said.

“He was a hands on man and when we first moved in he would befriend the builders and they would take him up to the floors before they were building and he would see all of the bits and pieces and come back and tell me all about it.”

“He loved it and it gave him something to do in retirement because we’d stopped travelling by then and so this place became his baby.”

Through Maurice’s involvement with the building’s committee, Irene said she had formed many great friendships with other residents over the years.

She said the committee had been very active in driving a sense of community within the building.

“There are your neighbours and then there are the people who go to the coffee afternoons or the dinner where once a month we’ll go to a different restaurant somewhere.”

“I didn’t always go but I just found that the people were so nice and my husband was on the committee for a while so that gave me an insight into another block of people.”

“You just got to know people from all walks of life and just get on neighbourly, which is great.”

According to Irene, what set Freshwater Place apart from other residential high-rise buildings in Melbourne was its “forward thinking and dedicated” committee.

Spearheaded by the likes of chair Peter Renner and former Southbank Residents Group president Michael Smolders, she said the progressive approach of the committee had always helped to make high-rise living easy.

“I think we have a very good committee and I think that they have looked ahead and made sure that we had funds we could use to put back into improving the building,” she said.

“The committee is all for the people in the building. You don’t get 100 per cent of people interested. Those who don’t want to be interested don’t need to be and I don’t think we have any complaints at all.”

While she now lives alone, Irene said she was still enjoying the clean and peaceful nature of living in her apartment.

10 years on, she said she didn’t have a single regret about moving to Freshwater Place and whole-heartedly recommended her lifestyle to others.

“I can’t believe it’s 10 years! I’m still enjoying living here,” she said. “It’s allowed me to experience more of the city without being too close to traffic.”

“My apartment is easy to clean, air conditioned, sound proof and safe. My family allow me my independence and I visit them regularly.”

“I would recommend my city lifestyle to like-minded retirees who wish to mix with all ages and backgrounds who are proud to be a part of the high-rise culture.”

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