Dot’s now a poet of note

Dot Whitehead holds her award for literary excellence and her winning poem. 149825


OCEAN Grove resident Dot Whitehead won an Australia-wide poetry award last month, beating hundreds of aspiring writers from around the country.
Dot won the Probus South Pacific’s Paul Hemmingham Award with her poem “The little bush school”.
“I was very surprised – I never expected to win it,” she said.
“I just entered it and never thought much about it until it happened.”
The win was a nice birthday present for the local great-grandmother, who turned 90 a few weeks ago.
Dot wrote the poem last year after returning to the site of Gypsum State School, in the Malee region of north-west Victoria.
The school closed in 1936, and all that’s left is “barren and bare” land, the “majestic tall trees” of its grounds and an “overgrown track”.
“It’s quite sad really but that’s what’s been happening all over the place,” Dot said.
“A lot of Victorian schools have closed down – so I think a lot of people can relate to it.”
When Dot joined the school in 1932 she was one of just 12 students.
“It was lovely because it was one-on-one teaching,” she said.
“I reckon I’m a better speller than most people today.”
Dot rode the family’s horse to school each morning with her sister Daisy, and alone after Daisy graduated.
“Bareback of course – we never had a saddle,” she said.
Dot’s poem featured in the August-September edition of Probus’s Active Retirees magazine.
Her poetry has also featured in the ABC’s All over Australia program and in Ouyen’s local newspaper.