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Resident Spotlight – Wendy Atherden

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”

Helen Keller.

Oryx communities are home to residents who all have unique and inspiring life stories to share. In this resident spotlight we meet Wendy Atherden, who has embraced life at The Queenslea’s Retirement Apartments.

In the heart of our Queenslea community, we find our valued resident Wendy Atherden, whose life story paints a vibrant portrait of resilience, passion, and continuous learning. Wendy, the eldest of three sisters, was born in 1936 in the charming south west town of Margaret River. Her diverse experiences and accomplishments have not only enriched her life, but also made her a cherished member of our retirement community here in Claremont.

Wendy’s early years were shaped by the constant relocation of her family due to her parents’ teaching commitments. These relocations, although challenging, laid the foundation for a resilient and enriching life, allowing Wendy to experience the beauty and diversity of different places.

Wendy received her primary education in Denmark, Western Australia, and secondary education at Albany High School before moving to Perth to train as a high school teacher. Wendy’s dedication to her profession was evident in her decision to undertake an additional year of training to be able to teach at primary schools if needed.

Beginning her teaching career in Nannup, Wendy met and married another teacher. They had three beautiful daughters; Jenny, Debbie and Susan. Wendy taught at both Cannington Senior High School and Applecross Senior High School before deciding to travel to Canada where they spent six years in the Rocky Mountain areas of Canada.

Canada was a delightful experience for the family as they snowshoed and skied in the winter and hiked in the mountains after the snow melted. The pair even decided to build two homes while they were in Canada, which Wendy remembers to be a steep learning curve. En route back to Australia, the family took a five month hiatus and travelled through Europe on a shoe-string budget, Wendy’s daughters fondly remembering the trip as the time they “starved their way through Europe” staying mainly in hostels; choosing to immerse themselves in the different cultures rather than spending money on fancy hotels.  After returning to Western Australia, Wendy acquired a teaching position at Busselton Senior High School where she taught for 18 years.

Merging her teaching pursuits with farming, Wendy purchased a 450-acre farm near Dunsborough where they raised sheep and cattle. They built a large stone home, using granite found on the property itself. Two of her daughters, Jenny and Debbie followed Wendy’s footsteps into teaching while Susan chose to pursue a career supporting adults with intellectual disabilities.

After the demise of her marriage Wendy met her ‘now-husband’ Gerry and decided that, as ‘women can do anything’, she started a vineyard on their property. Wendy and Gerry married and planted 22 acres of grapevines on their property. The vineyard would lay the foundation for Wendy’s greatest achievement – establishing a very successful business which would include an award-winning winery, 72 seat restaurant and five serviced chalets. From bushland to managing the business, 3 acres of landscaped gardens and 12 staff, Wendy recalls the long 18 hour days as yet another steep learning curve – but being the greatest achievement in her life.  

Nowadays, Wendy enjoys a much less stressful life. Her eclectic interests range from studying and learning new skills to gardening and cooking. She revels in the moments she shares with her extensive family, including 15 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren who regularly visit Wendy and Gerry at The Queenslea and join in our community activities.

With increasing health concerns, the need for a supportive environment led Wendy and Gerry to The Queenslea Retirement Apartments. Here, they live an independent lifestyle in their retirement, with access to support services and on-site Allied Health when needed. The adjacent residential aged care provides reassurance for them if a higher level of care may be needed in the future.

Wendy has found joy and support in the companionship of fellow residents and the array of services available. The friendships and the lively, nurturing community at The Queenslea have added a delightful chapter to her colourful life-story. Wendy says her favourite aspect of living at The Queenslea Retirement Apartments is the location, with so many services, shops and cafes within walking distance, and of course their neighbours – their new friends who have been so supportive.

Wendy’s journey is a living testament to a life lived with enduring passion, diverse pursuits, and a continual quest for learning. Her experiences and accomplishments resonate with and enrich our harmonious community here at The Queenslea, adding depth and colour to our collective narrative.

From your friends at Oryx

The Richardson Aged Care Phone (08) 9381 2800
The Queenslea Aged Care Phone (08) 6280 1900
The Queenslea Retirement Living Apartments Phone (08) 6280 1999