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 the old hospital in Northam and I’ve been here all my life. The building later became part of St Joseph’s, where I went to school. I’m the youngest in a family of seven—six boys and one girl. The boys were all shearers and my sister married a farmer. I too, was a shearer for some time after I left school, along with being a “Postie” for Australia Post.

My parents had a farm out at Southern Brook, which my brother runs now. Dad was there from when he was born in 1922 up until his death in 2018. His dad started the farm, so we’re up to the fifth generation now.

What I enjoy about Northam is the camaraderie of the town. When you have been here for so long, you get to know many people who are willing to give you a hand when needed.

My wife Rhonda and I have been married nearly twenty-six years, but we were together for ten years prior to that. We met at the Tennis Club in Southern Brook. We have two daughters, Meg and Tess. Tess is coming up sixteen and Meg is nearly twenty-one and studying medicine at UWA.

I used to play indoor and outdoor hockey and ride motorbikes all the time. However, I stopped in 2015 after a motorbike accident. A bunch of us were doing the Holland track between Hyden and Coolgardie when I parted ways with the motorbike and went flying into the bush. I spent a few days in Kalgoorlie Hospital where scans confirmed that I’d broken four or five ribs.

The same scans also uncovered that I had kidney cancer. I went in for an operation to remove the tumour from my kidney in August of that year and it didn’t work out as planned. I ended up on dialysis in hospital for three weeks, followed by six weeks at home recovering. To this day I can’t play hockey, but I can just about ride a motorbike again.

I’ve had my own home renovation and maintenance business for the past twenty-five years, which my wife coined “Jobs for Mark”. When Rhonda and I got married we bought a house which I did some work on. I began to do some renovation and maintenance work for friends too and the business grew from there. At the time, I was a shift worker at the flour mill in Northam, so I was able to work on my home renovation and handyman business during the day. I really enjoy renovating and helping my clients achieve their vision.

In early 2016, I fell into doing some work for Purslowe Tinetti Funerals and I’ve been doing it ever since. It’s a job I take great pride in and has really changed my outlook on life.

The saddest moments of my life were probably losing my parents. That was hard to deal with. Mum went first in 2012 and Dad followed in 2018. By then I’d been working in the funeral industry for a couple of years and it made such a difference to me. I transferred Dad to the funeral home myself because it was something I could do for him—the last thing I could do for him—and it felt amazing. It was an incredible privilege.

The most influential people in my life were probably my Dad and siblings. Dad was a quiet man who just got in and got things done. I still look up to him and some of his idiosyncrasies.

I’d have a lot of advice to offer my younger self if I could. If given a second chance I would go down a different path. I’ve always loved planes and helicopters, so I’ve dreamt of being a pilot and I once nearly became a police officer.

My advice for younger people today is to try anything and back yourself. If someone else can do it, you can do it. Give it a go.

Human - Mark Lawrence
Interviewer - Michelle Thompson
Photographer - Rob Adams
Writer - Guy Salvidge

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

Australia Post St Joseph's School Northam Southern Brook, Western Australia, Australia Shire of Northam Purslowe Tinetti Funerals Mia Davies MLA


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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

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

TOODYAY

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

WUNDOWIE

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

NARROGIN

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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