Johnette Sasse of Morawa  |  100x70cm Giclée Fine Photographic Print by Martine Perret (2022)

Johnette Sasse

"I was born in Perth in 1940. I was the only child of a second marriage. Mum had four other children. They wanted a boy, and my auntie wrote and said, 'Welcome to Johnette' and that's why I was called Johnette.

Mum was at home when Dad went off to the war for six years. I was very small then and I didn't see him until 1947. I had an older brother who stepped into the role as father. My father had flat feet and he couldn't be one of the fighting troops, but he was in the Ambulance Corps. They had a fire in Egypt, and he was quite badly burned. When he came back, they decided that they needed him in the Pacific Islands. When Dad returned home, we had to get used to having a man in the house again.

I went to teachers’ college where I trained to be a junior school teacher. I was in Perth for one year, and then sent to a place called Salt River (north of Albany) and later to Katanning.

I married a farmer, but he had left the farm to join the Royal Air Force. We were posted to Richmond in New South Wales for two years, then came back to Perth. We had three children. He was killed in a crash in Norseman in 1978 while flying a six-seater plane ferrying football players from Perth to Norseman. The plane crashed on take-off, and everyone was killed. My children were very young, and it was a huge trauma for the whole family. 

A few years later, a good friend introduced me to her uncle who had a farm in Morawa. We married in 1980. He was 61 and I was only 40. 

We lived in Canna on a big farm. We had crops - wheat, oats and lupins, but he was very keen to grow sub-clover. We also had sheep.I worked outside all the time. I decided to do a course on wool classing. We were very keen to start the 'soft rolling skins' which means the wool has no prickle - if you can achieve it. I was busy with that for about ten years.

I was 69 and Dick was 90 when we decided to move into town. He was a glider pilot and at 93 still competing in state competitions. He was also a pilot during the Second World War.

Living here, you really do have to be involved in the community, which is very important, although you must make an effort to do so by becoming involved in the community, as I did joining a book club and the local CWA branch, RSL plus the Anglican Church. I am also a volunteer at the Morawa Museum [pictured] which I enjoy immensely. During the tourist season I volunteer at the Tourist Information Centre where I find the interaction with the tourists most rewarding. I also play badminton and, before Covid-19 used to be in a singing group visiting the Hospital. I also visit the elderly still living in their homes and help where I can.

Morawa is a very caring and supportive community maybe because I think the intent is that they care, and everyone is very welcoming. We go out of our way to make people welcome. You move into a house in the city, and you may not know your neighbours but in the small country towns it is very different.

What draws me here is the love of the country, the love of nature, and especially the wonderful wildflowers. They really are something special."


Click below to view the full portrait and read each story from the Act Belong Commit exhibition Women of the Hinterlands