With Neighbour Day coming up on Sunday March 26, now’s the perfect time to get to know your neighbours better. We spoke with two locals who’ve got some of the friendliest neighbours in Townsville.
Haven Place, Riverside Gardens
Surrounded by bushland, Haven Place residents live in a cul-de-sac where everyone knows everyone. A leafy suburb, with walking tracks along the river and nature reserves dotted throughout, Riverside Gardens is popular with people looking for a laid-back lifestyle.
“I’ve lived in many neighbourhoods and towns in my life but never in a street where all the residents know and support each other like our street does,” says Haven Place resident Sandra Greenway.
“We communicate regularly, so we know if someone is going away and we make sure their pets are fed, their lawns are mowed, their mail is collected and their bins are put out.”
Furthermore, Haven Place neighbours share school drop-offs and pick-ups, yell out when they’re doing a dump run and help out with meals if people are unwell or having babies. Street-wide sausage sizzles and pizza nights are regular occurrences with all the kids riding up and down the cul-de-sac on their bikes and scooters.
“There are around 15 kids aged four to 16 in the street so it’s lots of fun and they have a ball together,” Sandy says.
“Barbecues get pulled out onto the driveway and sometimes we’ll all just bring our dinner out the front and eat it while we’re standing around chatting – the kids call it a ‘picnic’.
“Getting to know your neighbours is really important because it promotes positive relationships that foster a wonderful community spirit and it makes you feel safe in your own home.”
“Everyone looks forward to the street Christmas party and our kids often have birthday parties out the front so everyone can join in and celebrate. Even the neighbours who haven’t built on their block yet will join in the gatherings when we let them know.”
A mix of young families, empty nesters and retirees, as well as those who rent and own their own home, Haven Place residents are a diverse bunch but they’re united in their community spirit.
Hospital runs and looking after each other’s children if there’s ever a need is no drama and if someone leaves a roller door up by mistake, a neighbour will make sure the house is secured.
“It’s a blessing – knowing there are people around to help,” Sandy says. “It’s a great feeling, especially with the way things are in Townsville. You definitely feel more secure.”
The community has an active Neighbourhood Watch group who keep an eye on things and notice if something is out of the ordinary – without being nosey.
“A house alarm went off in the street the other day and the neighbours checked on the house and notified the resident,” Sandy says. “We also check in on neighbours who’ve been ill and we know that we can call on any one of our neighbours, no matter what time of day or night, if we need assistance.”
Walkers who wander down Haven Place often comment on the lively vibe and one husband-and-wife duo who walk down the street regularly even dropped off a piñata for all the kids to enjoy. Passersby are welcome to stop for a chat if they’re feeling social.
“Getting to know your neighbours is really important because it promotes positive relationships that foster a wonderful community spirit and it makes you feel safe in your own home,” Sandy says. “We’re extremely lucky having such a fantastic group of people living in our street. With such busy lifestyles it’s great being able to share the chores and the fun – it really takes the pressure off.”
Beefwood Street, Kalynda Chase
Australia Day in Beefwood Street was an event not to be missed. All of the neighbours gathered at Stephen Ratuere’s place and, boy, did they enjoy a memorable feast.
“One neighbour made a beautiful low and slow smoked barbecue brisket — he started at 3am that morning,” Stephen says. “I made a Fijian dish because I have a Fijian heritage and my wife, with her Italian heritage, made an Italian pasta dish that took five hours to cook. Most of us wore board shorts and singlets and the adults enjoyed some ‘cold beverages’ while the kids ran around with their party hats on, whistling on party blowers and getting into the swing of things.”
When 12am clicked over and the party didn’t look like slowing down, Stephen brought out his DJ mixer and dropped some beats, with a few neighbours playing soccer and shooting hoops. Then lamingtons started to get thrown around like missiles…
Kalynda Chase is a relatively new suburb for Townsville but the neighbours in Beefwood Street feel like they’ve known each other for ages.
“We genuinely enjoy each other’s company and one of our neighbours started a Facebook page for us so we can share info, whether its to do with our rates, funny memes, joking around with friendly banter, or organising our next gatherings. Some of the comments can go on for a good hour,” Stephen says.
The vibe on the street is usually relaxed but when word gets out that some type of gathering is coming up, there’s a swell of energy as the excitement grows. The Mundine Vs Green fight was a highlight, with the fight beamed to everyone on a big screen.
“Just knowing that your neighbours are eager to help and keep an eye on your pets and property makes you feel reassured that someone has got your back.”
“We ordered a huge batch of fish and chips and it got pretty loud because we all thought we knew how to box,” Stephen says. “The fact most of us had no or limited knowledge of boxing didn’t stop us from yelling out at the big screen.”
Five of the houses in Beefwood Street have residents who work in the Defence Force.
“We also have a nurse, hairdresser, the Sales Manager for Townsville Sheds and Garages, a fifo worker, community service worker, HR officer and even a storm chaser,” Stephen says. “One couple just had a newborn a few months ago and the hubby is normally the instigator of our gatherings. He has so much energy and his love of life is contagious.”
Neighbourhood Watch is something Beefwood Street residents are also mindful of. They keep an eye on the Townsville Crime Alerts Facebook page and look out for any suspicious activity.
“Just knowing that your neighbours are eager to help and keep an eye on your pets and property makes you feel reassured that someone has got your back,” Stephen says.
“The street and the estate is extremely friendly. So, DUO readers, when you pop out this way and venture down Beefwood Street, don’t be afraid to wave or even stop for a chat or quiet beer.”