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 Manjimup, where my father was a war service settlement farmer after the Second World War. He was part of a project to grow tobacco in Northcliffe, but it failed as the region was too wet. After that, my father was a dairy farmer between Mount Barker and Albany for a couple of years before we eventually ended up at another farm near Augusta.

I had a lovely childhood living on the farm – it was idyllic and beautiful. I loved getting up in the morning and going out to bring in the cows for Dad. There were four girls and two boys in our family. In those days, we used to lay on top of the cows while they were getting milked. We used to get in trouble for doing it, but the cows didn’t care!

Dad finally left the farm because the price of butter fat had dropped so low that he couldn’t make a living. He had to leave the farm and re-join the Army, which led to us moving to Karridale. It was a beautiful place but very thick with karri trees. Eventually we moved to Perth, where we thought we were rich because we had an inside toilet. Once the novelty wore off, I really missed the farm.

I married Robert when I was eighteen and he was everything in a man that I had wanted in a husband. I’d only known him four months when we got married, but I knew he was the one for me. We had four children together, the third of which died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome when she was eight months’ old.

We settled in Albany and lived there for thirty years. We were involved in Red Nose Day and counselling for SIDS for the whole time we lived there. I was also involved with Riding for the Disabled. I enjoyed helping people with disabilities as there’s so much you can do to brighten up their lives. We loved our clients and we really enjoyed their company. We decided to move away after our second child died, which was heartbreaking, but I do miss the beauty of Albany.

My husband and I were looking at a property in Bakers Hill and it was already stinking hot even though it was only September, but Robert had his heart set on it. I’m glad now, because we’ve loved living here for the past thirteen years. I love the small town country feel of Bakers Hill and the people are friendly. The primary school here, which my granddaughter attended, is absolutely wonderful. It’s an ‘all round’ country town where people help one another and care about what’s going on in their town.

Having our children were the happiest moments of my life, but happiest of all was when I had baby Samantha, as I’d wanted a daughter so badly. Robert was over the moon when Samantha was born, but she only lived eight months. Even to this day, I never thought my heart would stop breaking. Robert had had a vasectomy, but we managed to have it reversed and I was pregnant again within a month. We were very fortunate and we ended up with our second daughter, Holly.

My husband is one of the most influential people in my life and we complement each other perfectly. We learn a lot from one another and we always have done. I also had a wonderful Relief Society president, who was the most wonderful woman I ever met. She was in her sixties when she started studying to be a social worker. No one would employ her due to her age, but she didn’t care – she just did it to gain knowledge. She was a fabulous cook and homemaker and passed her knowledge to those around her.

My advice for young people today is to be wary of wanting too much too soon. They want the four bedroom house, the swimming pool and all the rest of it, but they don’t want to have to start from the ground level. Everyone has hard times, but you bite the bullet. Robert and I have been married nearly fifty years and the good times have far overweighed the bad. When we were younger, we’d go to bed early every Sunday night so we could talk. We tried very hard to look at our faults and try to improve on them. We communicated well and had a pretty successful marriage from the word go.

Human - Denise Stanley
Interviewer - Paula Whittington
Photo - Supplied
Writer - Guy Salvidge

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a Wheatbelt Health Network project supported by 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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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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