Norma Wainwright, the well known writer and little-known nurse and sports team starter, has spent 20 years in Kununurra after living between Wyndham and Derby for more than 40 years.
Wainwright originates from the farming town of Harvey in WA’s South West.
She studied to become a nurse, working six months at Royal Perth Hospital after completing her course.
“At school, I won the award for the nurse most likely to succeed, and ironically I was the first to leave nursing,” she laughs.
“But I’m glad, because if I hadn’t left I wouldn’t have found what I really want to do – which is
Moving to Derby as a young woman, Wainwright found her niche in the community as a self starter and set about motivating people to get involved.
She noted a lack of sporting and social activities and called a meeting at the Derby hotel to create a social sporting team.
The Derby women’s basketball team began and transcended into netball as the men followed, beginning their own basketball team in 1950. As a young woman she fell during basketball, hitting her knee in a fall which sparked rheumatoid arthritis.
In 2008 Wainwright made the courageous decision to have one of her fingers removed because rheumatism had caused it to bend, affecting her ability to type and write.
The decision, she said, took a month to consider and was not made “willy nilly”. “I missed it once it was gone, so I wrote a poem about it, named ‘dear finger’,” she said.
Wainwright’s debut as a writer came in 1988 at a meeting held by Wyndham Historical Society.
“We were asked to write eight pages about ourselves, and I thought no one’s going to want to read about me,” she said.
“But I liked writing, so I kept going, and as it turned out people actually liked it and did want to read my words.”
Her books have reached as far as England, with people writing her letters to see if they could have a book sent overseas.
Wainwright said her writing was filled with quirky verses about her life experiences.
“A lot of my writing as made up of things about the Kimberley which amuse me, finding a frog in the toilet or a snake in the bathroom,” she said.
When asked why she chose to stay in Kununurra, her reply is simple. “We have spent every wedding anniversary except one in the Kimberley,” she said.
“And we really have no desire to live anywhere else, we love it here.”