Stories / Anecdotes

GRAHAM  WOODROW’s  Story:

Retirement Activities and Experiences [By G.B. Woodrow 2005] 

Prior to retirement, we set up a 2-year program of work activities – to maintain the enjoyment of a working challenge and to provide a transition from full time employment to part retirement. At that time we were a little scared of falling into the hole of oblivion “Gardening and Bowls” as we had seen happen to others.

The primary tasks of the 2-year program were to sell our Melbourne house, move to our beach house at Rye (we had established our social life at Rye around the Sailing Club personal) and then design and build a new permanent home. This was a full time job. I did all the work myself (except where licensed tradesmen were required) – design –drafting – construction- finishing. At the same time we broadened our social base by joining some local clubs and we went on a couple of holidays. In hindsight this transition was successful as by the end of the house building phase, we were firmly entrenched in the local community with a good circle of friends. We purposely did not attempt to maintain contact with our ex employers as we considered that phase of our life had past.

After the housebuilding phase, we gradually transitioned into local ‘Club Life’. First we were a little uncomfortable with club life, as it did not seem to have the excitement and mental challenge that we enjoyed. As such we got involved slowly and cautiously. During this couple of years we spent a fair amount of time travelling around Australia and some Overseas. In Aussie travel was by car and tent/cabin and then, when Oriel objected to sleeping on the ground at –5 degrees in Yulara, we invested in a larger car and caravan (which we now use extensively). We had several overseas ventures to USA (East Coast), UK, Canada (West and East Coasts), NZ, and various Asian locations. Again we travelled mainly by self-drive car and used B & B / Hotels. During this phase, club life started to evolve. We maintained our Sailing Club affiliation but dropped out of executive positions in favour of being ordinary members of Probus and Bowls. By this time we had developed a broader social base and had established a degree of comfort in both these organisations.

We are now 2 years into this phase of Club Life, With many other younger retirees, we have developed our Probus club into a great organisation. We have both taken on committee positions.

The Bowls Club organisation and management was dreadful and the club was in financial decline. I did some reviews, which lead to the appointment as an adviser to the Management Committee. Soon learned that I needed more skills so I enrolled in short courses in Accountancy, and Computer Studies at various mainly free institutions – U3A and Community House. I then took over as the Treasurer – my current position. The club is a relatively small organisation with some 250+members, several employees, a Bar and Kitchen with sales revenue in 6 figures. Tax and GST are the bugbear of my life. I enjoy playing Bowls (about twice weekly) but we don’t mix socially as the age grouping is a little too old for us.  It is a difficult and challenging game to master. In 3 years I have just made it to 3rd.Division in the district competition. 

The Probus Clubs are now the mainstays of our Social life although we still maintain an interest in the Sailing Club. After some time as ordinary members (getting to know the values of the club), we joined the committees. In the Men’s club, I have served in several positions- all associated with Activities. Oriel is currently President of the Ladies Club. Each club has 120 members (not including partners). They are very active social clubs. We have a fairly young committee – about 40 % are 55 to 65 years olds. The clubs meet monthly with a guest speaker but the meetings are really about announcing the upcoming events. To paint a picture of our involvement, the Men’s club has the following sub groups:

  • Activities Social Group: Various educational and entertainment excursions and Evening Dine Outs.  2 activities per month. Vary a lot, eg. In this period we have trips to Races, Caterpillar/ Ford, BHP Steel, Breakfast on the Beach, Oaks Day Luncheon, Country Barn Dance, Attendances vary from max of 40 for day trips and 60 to 100 for Socials – Dine Outs.
  • Golf Group: 20 to 30 members play socially at Eagle Ridge and Dunes each week.
  • Caravan Group: 2 – 7 day camps a year and 2 – touring trips normally. 60 to 80 attendees at camps.
  • Travelling Group: One Overseas or Interstate Trip per year – Plane, Bus of 2 week+ and one Intrastate trip of 3-4 days.
  • Woodworking Group: Fortnightly 15 -20 participants

We participate in most of these groups. We both play golf in summer although somewhat irregularly and not very well. We arrange and attend all of the Social activities. I am active with Woodworking. We go on all the caravan trips. We don’t participate in many of the other groups such as Snooker, Tennis, Fishing, and Cycling. 

In addition to these Club associated activity, we enjoy visits with our family and of course the grandchildren. We have 2 families in Melbourne and one in Mackay. The Melbourne families usually stay with us for school holidays or we take the kids on a camping trip. Oriel visits Brisbane and Mackay twice a year to stay with the daughter’s family and to visit Mothers and other relatives. We take the caravan to Brisbane and Mackay for 6 weeks each year during winter. We usually tack on trips to other Aussie locations – such as Kakadu, Kimberley’s this year and Western Queensland last year etc. We had a trip to Tasmania this year and South West W.A. is planned for next year. With Probus and personal trips, we get a lot of value out of the Caravan. What time we have left over is spent in house maintenance, gardening and we both have housebound hobbies. For example, I have taken an interest in making furniture – currently making an Outdoor Setting. And I try to manage our investments to achieve continuity of income. We recently were accepted by Centerlink for the Old Age Pension. 

Next year we plan to retract from committee positions for a year or so because we plan to go overseas again. We have been thinking of this for a while but had plans for 2006. However with our recent health scares, we decided not to put it off any more. This time we will visit European countries using a hire car and staying in Bed & Breakfast establishments – or cabins in caravan parks. Plans include France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Czech, Hungary, Slovenia and Turkey. This will take us about 2 months.

When we come back, I will take up the position of President of our Probus club. Oriel plans to continue on the committee of her Probus club and the Bowls club.

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