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 York in England, but because my father worked as an aircraft mechanic for the RAF we travelled around a lot in my childhood. We lived in Lincolnshire and Rutland, which were rural areas. When I was six, my dad was posted to Malta in the Mediterranean Sea so my formative years were spent there. Since that time I’d always wanted to live in a Mediterranean climate because I didn’t like the English weather one bit. Coming back to England was quite traumatic for me because at that time, during the 1960s, it wasn’t common for people to have central heating in their houses. I hated the cold and that’s what drove me in later years to find a warm place to move to.

My main childhood memories are of swimming at Armier Beach in Malta with my younger brother Alan. We attended the local RAF service school so we were kept separate from the Maltese children during school hours. When we first moved to Malta we lived next door to the Vella family in Luqa and that was where the Air Force base was. I made friends with Margaret Vella and she had lots of sisters and brothers. During the time I was there, at least a couple of the siblings were seen off by their family at Valetta Harbour on their journey to Sydney. It was very sad for the Maltese parents because there were no jobs for the young people. I had a beautiful time in Malta and my brother and I could just roam around wherever we wanted. I loved the blue skies and the limestone buildings, especially around Valetta.

How I came to move to Australia was mainly due to my dislike for the English climate. Living in England made me really depressed, but there was no prospect of ever moving to Malta permanently due to the lack of jobs. Clive and I had met at Coventry Polytechnic and he was brilliant in his field, which was computer programming. I’d always been interested in Australia, even as a teenager. I used to read the Sunday Express newspaper and there were all these articles about Australia. Later on there was a series of documentaries by Alan Whicker and the last of these was on Australia. There was a picture of him standing on one of the beaches in Perth saying, ‘if this isn’t paradise then I don’t know what is.’ I wrote to Australia House in London and because Clive was a computer programmer they said we could emigrate. He was my plane ticket into Australia.

I believe I have undiagnosed Asperger's and that is a major reason why I’ve struggled to find permanent work during my life. There are lot of undiagnosed people like myself especially among the older generation. We tend to be very sensitive and we take things to heart that other people might not bother about. Despite this I’ve worked in mental health, disability, aged care, child protection and cleaning. I also have a degree in Social Work from Edith Cowan University.

The passion of my life is history and I believe I should have been an English teacher. Unfortunately my education was greatly disrupted due to my dad being in the RAF and us moving around too much. When I was in the final year of primary school in Haxby near York I had to sit the 11+ exam and I got really anxious and didn’t perform my best, so I missed out on going to grammar school. Because I lived in the City of York during my teenage years I absorbed all the history, which is all around you in that part of the world. In more recent times the internet has allowed me to research my family history and this has been the boon of my life. I’ve been able to extend my knowledge incomparably due to the internet. I’ve also been able to research mental health issues such as autism, borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia. Without the internet I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this.

In contrast to York in England, York in Western Australia is a much smaller and very peaceful agricultural community. That’s where I live now. I’m a country bumpkin which I think goes back to my father’s agricultural background in Lincolnshire. Living in the country is the perfect environment for me because I don’t like cities or even big towns. The traffic and all the people are too overwhelming for me. The highlight of my life was coming to Australia, but related to that was persuading my then-husband Clive to come too. As it’s turned out it’s been for the best and we’ve been incredibly lucky.

Human – Diane Drury
Interviewer, photographer, and Writer - Guy Salvidge

Humans of the Wheatbelt is supported by the State Government through the Wheatbelt Development Commission and managed by Wheatbelt Health Network.

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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
Open: 8.30am-4.30pm Mon – Thurs

Therapy Plus
104 Wellington Street, Northam
Phone: 08 9621 4444


Alma Beard Medical Centre
81 Stirling Tce, Toodyay
Phone: 08 9578 2500
Open: 8.30am – 4.30pm Mon – Fri


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

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