Humans of the Wheatbelt

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a disability project that celebrates inclusion within the community.

There is always someone in each story that has a disability whether it is the human, interviewer, photographer or writer.

I was born in Tully in North Queensland and, when I was young, we shifted down inland. Dad worked in sawmills and farms in Kallangur, which is about forty kilometres north of Brisbane.

I have three brothers and two sisters. Most of them still live in Queensland but I have one sister living in Albany. I went to primary school in Kallangur and later started my apprenticeship as a pastry cook baker in Brisbane.

I did have contact in my childhood of working properties on the Darling Downs in Queensland. My cousin and I used to go out there once a year and help manage 30,000 acres, most of which was under crop. We’d get on tractors and bulldozers, we’d plough and grade the grain when it’d been harvested. I enjoyed that. When I finished my apprenticeship, I joined the army and did my basic training in Wagga Wagga.

From Wagga Wagga I went to Sydney, where I did my driving course and cook’s course before I was posted to Townsville. They were taking applications to join the SAS, which I applied for and got. Three months later I was in Vietnam, where I did a twelve-month tour with Three Squadron. They were short of cooks so they asked me to extend my tour. They sent me home for six weeks’ leave and then I went back with One Squadron and did another six months in Vietnam.

After that I came back to Perth where I met Denise. We got married when she was eighteen. I enjoyed my time with the SAS except that I was away from home for nine months of the year. You’d be away for three months, home for a week and then you’d be gone again. It came down to the point of the military or your married life.

For a while we ran a pizza bar in Cottesloe on the waterfront. After that I trained as a prisons’ officer in Worooloo and ended up working as a cook instructor at Albany Prison. After a stint running the Egg Board in Albany, we bought the local bakery which we ended up running for twelve years.

After my hip started playing up, I was pensioned off through Veterans Affairs. We sold up in Albany and eventually moved to Copley, near Bakers Hill, where we’ve lived ever since. Baker’s Hill is a typical small country town. We do most of our shopping in Northam or Midland.

Denise and I have been to Bali three times. We did a tour of Europe including Germany, Latvia, Finland, Denmark, France, Sweden, Ireland, England and finally Singapore on the way back. We were gone four months. We’ve also done three trips around Australia.

We spent a month in Kakadu and we’ve climbed waterfalls. Even place has its own attraction to it. We’re probably limited where we can go now because of my health problems. To pay for traveller’s insurance would cost a fortune. We’ll probably never go overseas again, but there’s so much to see in Australia and you’ll never see it all. On the bucket list was that we wanted to see snow. We had the opportunity to go to a ski resort in Victoria, but after two hours there Denise and I agreed that we were glad we didn’t come for a week!

Now that I’m retired, I enjoy gardening. I enjoyed running the pigs here on the farm and we enjoyed running RDA. My wife is the most influential person in my life, my soulmate. Both of us have worked hard our whole lives. You’ve got to be prepared to give and take if you want married life to work. We lost a daughter at eight months of age and a son at thirty-two, which were the saddest moments of our lives.

My advice to young people is that it’s important to save your money when you can. Neither Denise or I are drinkers, which helps save money. Denise gave up smoking thirty years ago. As for me, it’s the one thing that hasn’t killed me yet!

Human - Robert Stanley
Interviewer - Paula Whittington
Photographer - Anna Cornish
Writer - Guy Salvidge

Shire of Northam Bakers Hill Progress & Recreation Association Bakers Hill, Western Australia

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a Wheatbelt Health Network project supported by the Department of Communities.


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The Wheatbelt Health Network offers support including General Practice, Nursing, Mental Health, Allied Health and Visiting Specialists.

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NORTHAM

Wheatbelt Health Centre
25 Holtfreter Avenue, Northam
Phone: 08 9621 4444
Open: 8am-6pm Mon – Fri

TOODYAY

Alma Beard Medical Centre
81 Stirling Tce, Toodyay
Phone: 08 9578 2500
Open: 8.30am – 5pm Mon – Fri

NORTHAM

Aboriginal Health - Northam
65 Wellington Street, Northam
Phone: 08 9690 2824

NARROGIN

Aboriginal Health - Narrogin
Williams Road, Narrogin
Phone: 08 9881 0385
Open: 8.30am – 4.30pm Mon – Tues

  • 25 Holtfreter Avenue, Northam

  • 81 Stirling Tce, Toodyay

  • 65 Wellington Street, Northam

  • Williams Road, Narrogin

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