Why did Helen come here?

Despite most of her family continuing on with life in Abbotsford, Helen Bonanno is slowly but surely building her own nest of relatives in the Great Lakes region, and is content to stay put.
Despite most of her family continuing on with life in Abbotsford, Helen Bonanno is slowly but surely building her own nest of relatives in the Great Lakes region, and is content to stay put.

Helen Bonanno is one of the busiest bees in the Great Lakes area, with writers group on Mondays, mahjong on Tuesdays, history group on Wednesdays, regular outings, travel and activities.

With an adventurous spirit and a never ending mission to squeeze every last drop of excitement out of each day, it’s no wonder Helen eventually stumbled across our little seaside escape, but what made her fall so head over heels in love with the Great Lakes?

“We love the relaxed lifestyle, although we never seem to have enough hours in the day,” Helen explained.

“When the time came to leave Sydney and all our friends, we were rather apprehensive, but we have been here about 12 years now and we have never been happier.”

Growing up in the small peninsula suburb of Abbotsford in Sydney, Helen was one of the first to break tradition with her move from the area.

Every time we come home we relax and smile as we cross our beautiful bridge.

Helen Bonanno

“My mother and father, my grandparents and extended family had all lived for their entire lives in Abbotsford so it was more like a small country village than a suburb in the centre of Sydney,” she said.

“After I married, we remained in the area till we had children ready to go to high school, when we moved to Carlingford.

But Helen knew this would not be her forever home, with an early property investment in Forster tugging at her heartstrings, waiting for that fateful moment when she would retire and take up her place in paradise. 

“We bought a small house in Forster about 10 years before we were due to retire and used it, both as a holiday home and holiday rental in Christmas periods,” she said.

Helen with her writers group: "Meeting for lunch in the term break as we can’t survive a month without writers," she said.

Helen with her writers group: "Meeting for lunch in the term break as we can’t survive a month without writers," she said.

“My brother already had a house here and we had spent holiday time in Forster when the children were younger.”

Since moving to Forster, retirement has certainly not slowed Helen down who packs her days with activities.

“Our best decision was to join U3A, the University of the Third Age,” she said.

“The other love of my life is the library. It is the centre of life in Forster, whether it be the ancestry group, the homework help on Wednesday afternoon where we help children from local schools, or just mixing with the wonderful staff and readers.

“We also love to travel. We visited South Africa last year, one I can mark off my bucket list and will travel to Canada and the USA, with a side trip to Cuba later this year.”