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 and bred in Northam and I’ve lived here all my life, which is seventy-four years. I always thought that home was where you make it. There were some times when I thought it might be nice to go live on the coast, but when you think about it there’s no place like Northam.

We’ve had a lot of immigrants come through over the years so I got to meet Polish, Ukrainians and everyone else and I still have a lot of them as friends. The local people here are fantastic.

As a child, I first went to Northam Primary School before Avonvale PS was built, then moved over to Avonvale when it opened. I did my secondary schooling at Northam Senior High School and then did a five-year apprenticeship with my father, who was a localbuilder. It was and still is a family-owned business. My father was a great boss and very fair. These days, my son is part of the business which brings us up to five generations that have been involved in W. Gibbs and Son.

The way I met my wife Ann was I was the boy captain and she was the girl captain of the Northam Swimming Club. I’m three years older than she is and we started going out when she was sixteen. It was a good life that I had in my early years despite the restrictions that were put on me. There was an old hut that was really a milking shed down by the pool and we did some work on it and it became our clubrooms. We used to take a radiogram down there on a Friday night to play records and dance.

I am a little sad about the closing of the old pool, but it’s past its use by date now and the Shire had been having a lot of problems with it. Just like us, as we get older it takes a lot more effort to make us look beautiful!

The worst times in my life were probably when my mother and father passed on. Both of my sisters have left this earth too. I think that’s sad because I’m a very family orientated person. If I was going away somewhere, I’d always want my family there with me.

The thing I’m proudest of in my life are my four children: one boy and three girls. My eldest daughter is a ward receptionist at Hollywood Hospital. Another daughter is a pathology technician, the third works here in Northam at Café Yasou, and of course my son works in the business with me. I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so we’re doing very well in the population department!

I used to be a member of the Lions club here in Northam. I’m also President of the Northam Rotary club. This is the third time I’ve been President in my thirty-odd years in Rotary. I get a lot out of it, especially the Youth Exchange program. We send our students all over the world for twelve months and they come back full of enthusiasm for doing great things. That gladdens my heart to see. There’s enough grief in this world so it’s nice to see young people who have their heads screwed on the right way.

In the building industry these days, some of the rules and regulations we have to abide by have become quite traumatic. It was a lot easier when I was an apprentice. People nowadays demand a lot more. That can be a good thing, as competition keeps us on our toes.

My dad was pretty inspirational to me growing up. We’d get up in the morning and have breakfast and then be at work by eight o’clock. We worked so well together and there was never a cross word between us. I have a similar relationship with my own son. He keeps up with all the new technology and I just let him get on with it.

In terms of advice I have for young people, we all see a lot of doom and gloom on the television and in the newspapers. Everyone needs guidance and they don’t always get it, so the kids of today are sometimes left operating on their animal instincts. We all hear about young people behaving badly, but I believe that a lot of the responsibility should be directed at the parents.

Human - Ian Gibbs
Interviewer - Shirley Cook
Photographer - Anna Cornish
Writer - Guy Salvidge

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

Shire of Northam Avonvale Primary School Northam Primary School Northam Senior High School Northam Olympic Swimming Pool Northam Swimming Club Cafe Yasou Lions Clubs International Lions Club Rotary Northam Rotary Club of Northam Rotary International W.Gibbs and Son Building Contractors Northam Chamber of Commerce Mia Davies MLA Darren West MLC, WA Labor Member for the Ag Region ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt

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

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


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


Wundowie Health Centre
GP Services
283 Boronia Ave, Wundowie
Phone: 08 9621 4444
Open: 8.30am – 4pm Wednesdays


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

After hours medical assistance: In an emergency call 000 or present to your nearest Regional Hospital emergency department. If you have a non- emergency and would like to consult with a GP then call Telstra Health on 1800 225 523. The service is free to access for Australian residents who reside in the wheatbelt or who are temporarily residing in the Wheatbelt. This service can be accessed before 8am and after 6pm Monday-Friday, before 8am and after 12pm Saturday and all day Sunday and any Public Holidays. Thank you to Western Australia Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) for funding this service.

  • 25 Holtfreter Avenue, Northam

  • 81 Stirling Tce, Toodyay

  • 65 Wellington Street, Northam

  • Williams Road, Narrogin

  • 283 Boronia Ave, Wundowie

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