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 grew up in the Kimberley around Kununurra. Our family farmed watermelons and pumpkin using flood irrigation. We had an amazing childhood, exploring the bush near our house or going on quad bike rides down to the creek. Growing up in Kununurra was great, but I couldn’t live there now because I’m more of a cold weather person.

At high school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study at university, but my history teacher suggested doing something that helped people and made a difference in their lives. I finished my schooling in the Kimberley, including a few subjects by distance education, and then moved down to Perth for my university studies in Speech Pathology.

I moved to Narrogin in 2013 to take up a position as a speech pathologist, but now I run a small business called Wild and Waste Free, which is a bulk foods and zero-waste store. People can come in with their own containers and jars to fill up on pantry goods, as well as body care and cleaning products. Some of our most popular products are local honey and roasted coffee beans. I wanted to bring something like this to Narrogin and now we’ve been open since July 2nd 2019. We did some market research before opening and the store has been well-received by the community.

Owning your own business is different from a regular job, because there’s a lot of after-hours work and no fortnightly paycheque, but on the other hand my daughter Heidi can come into the shop with me. She greets all the customers and loves playing with all the kids that come in. We also run workshops to share our passion with people, such as our beeswax wrap-making workshop. I haven’t missed the 9-5 work routine since making the change.

When I’m asked how people might reduce their carbon footprint, my advice is to start small with something that’s achievable. If you try to change too much too quickly, you might find it too difficult to maintain. Simple things like using your own coffee cup instead of disposable takeaway cups or bringing your own shopping bags to the supermarket are great ways to start. There are non-negotiables for some people and I totally understand those, for instance people not wanting the burden of cleaning cloth nappies!

My highlight of 2020 is giving birth to little Luka on the 19th of May. My family is of German origin. Both of my children, Heidi and Luka, have my partner’s surname which is McEllister - but they have traditional German first names. Having Heidi taught me a lot and opened my eyes to a few things as well. I used to be very goal-oriented but since having children I’ve tried to be more flexible.

I have a tattoo with Heidi’s birthday along with a Buddhist symbol that relates to finding the path to self-discovery. I find that it’s helpful to find the beauty in everyday things, and kids are amazing at doing that, like the excitement they feel in finding a puddle or a bug in the dirt. It’s important to try to get some fresh air outside every day.

If I could invite anyone in the world to a dinner party, I’d invite my grandfather who passed away a few years ago. He was always a great inspiration to me in everything he did. Most of my family is so far away, some in Germany and my parents and siblings on the east coast of Australia. I’d also love to invite my mum to dinner, because I only get to see her about once a year.

This year has been quite daunting, but what I’m looking forward to is watching my children grow and seeing who they become. My partner and I are currently saving up to buy a bus that we want to convert into a motor home. We want to travel Australia with the kids in a few years’ time. We want to experience everything that Australia has to offer.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the years is not to try to please everyone all the time. The advice I’d give my younger self is to try to do what you want to do and not just what people expect. Don’t be scared to change direction if something doesn’t feel right. That’s what led me to starting up my own business instead of just sticking with speech pathology.

Human - Johanna Eppler
Interviewer - Shannon Boundry
Photographer - Anna Clements
Writer - Guy Salvidge

Wild & Waste Free Narrogin, Western AustraliaShire of Narrogin Narrogin Chamber of Commerce

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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