Sapphire: Full Circle Living

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The beautiful Kingston Foreshore Peninsula is a rare piece of land—a buzzing urban strip on one side, the tranquility of the Jerrabombera Wetlands on the other, and water views that stretch for days. It’s fitting then, that it’s home to Sapphire—the flagship project for Canberra developer Keggins.

When Keggins first acquired the land in 2016, they set out with a vision to create something iconic.

Inspired by the unique shape of the peninsula on which it’s located, the gentle curves of the building integrate perfectly with the lakefront, giving Sapphire’s residents and commercial tenants a front-row seat to Canberra’s natural beauty.

With an office located on the ground floor of the striking waterfront apartments, Keggins has made Sapphire their home—a move that shows their commitment to their clients, past and present.

One of those clients is 86-year-old Mary Stuart.

Born and raised in Canberra, Mary bought her Sapphire apartment when, by chance, she came across an open inspection.

Intrigued, Mary walked through the front door and headed straight to the balcony, ignoring all but the vista of the water and wetlands beyond.  One thought ran through her mind: ‘I have to have this.’

And with a perfect view of the Jerrabomberra Wetlands and the old dairy farms beyond, Mary can see the land that was once her home.

In 1952, at the age of 18, Mary married Dugald Stuart—one of thirteen families who owned dairy farms on the land that is now known as Lake Burley Griffin.

Originally known as Goldenholm Dairy Farm, Mary and her husband raised five children while working on the farm and hosted several immigrant families that were looking to build a better life in Australia.

It was one of Canberra’s original dairy farm—and the last.

“It was the last by a long way,” explains Mary. “Most of the dairy farms went when the lake went in, in ‘62…except ours and the Cargills.”

“In 2002 we took the cows for their last milking…that was a sad day.”

Mary’s family first came to Canberra in 1834, and she has always felt a strong connection to the land of Fyshwick, Manuka and Kingston. Often Dugald would go walking for hours along the winding dirt roads for meetings at the Racing Club, while every so often Mary would take the children to the Kingston shops.

While the farm wasn’t easily accessible at the time, Mary says she loved the community across the river.

“You knew everybody in the street, stopping and talking,” she says. “Oh it was just amazing, it would take you hours and hours to do a bit of shopping.”

Eventually retiring from the farm in the 1980s, Mary and Dugald moved into town, transitioning Goldenholm Dairy to their son, Sandy. While the farm is now better known as Canturf, Sandy continues to work with cattle, which can often be seen free grazing in the lush surroundings of the Jerrabomberra Wetlands where he agists them under a leasehold arrangement.

Mary never strayed too far from their original  home, and while she debated moving into an apartment, had never found the right one—until she came across Sapphire.

Despite having collected countless fascinating tales about Canberra growth from country town to cosmopolitan city, she says that the story of how she bought her apartment is ‘the greatest story of all.’

“We were going for a walk down across to the wetlands on a Sunday morning.” explains Mary. “On the way back we were walking down there [near Sapphire] when two middle-aged men came out of the ground floor. They said ‘It’s too small for us’, then turned around and said, ‘It would suit you’, so we went and had a look,” explains Mary.

“I walked through the door, and went and stood on the balcony…I rang Sandy and said ‘I’m looking at your place, Sandy’ and we bought it there and then.”

Using binoculars to watch Sandy’s cows during the calving season, Mary’s story has come full circle as her new home overlooks her past.

Just like her old shopping trips into town, Mary says she loves the community of Sapphire and being able to watch her son’s cows graze from the comfort of her balcony ‘makes her day.’

“I just love it here. I have never been happier.”