Thelma spent most of her life living in the Dunsborough, Yallingup region. Her father, Anthony John, was a member of the Curtis family who founded Meelup Park, Wonnerup, and Cape Farm on the Cape Naturaliste Road. Thelma’s grandmother, Rebecca Blythe, had 17 beach cottages at Cozy Corner, Dunsborough – very popular accommodation for holiday makers.
Thelma attended school at Busselton, Wonnerup and Quindalup and was also educated by correspondence lessons, supervised by her mother, when the family lived in a tent for eight months at Northcliffe while her father was working on the construction of the Pemberton-Northcliffe railway line.
Thelma’s father and her mother Ivy Lloyd (nee Blythe) started a bakery at Dunsborough making bread in ovens her father built. The bread was sold to local people, holiday makers, and delivered by horse and cart, twice a week, to Caves House, Yallingup.
After leaving school at 15, Thelma worked at the Dunsborough store and then at Caves House. It was while she was working at Caves House that she met her husband, Laurence Butterly. They were married on 21 February 1945 and went to live on the Butterly family farm at Yallingup, with Laurence’s parents. Here Thelma worked outside and helped clear the farm, milked cows and raised two sons.