Project Description

Dorothy Amy OATES (nee Morris) was born in Udimore, Sussex, England on the 3 July, 1910. Her father was David Morris and her mother was Amy Eliza (nee Baker). They emigrated on the Onra in 1912 and spent Christmas at sea, arriving in Fremantle where they stayed for a fortnight before moving to Wagin.

Dorothy had two sisters, Mavis Bertha, born 22 June 1912 and Jean, born 22 July 1920. Her father worked on the railway and managed various farms in the area. Dorothy attended Wagin school until they moved by train to Busselton under the Group Settlement scheme. They arrived in August 1922 and went to Abba River Siding with 20 Settlers.

Dorothy describes their ‘humpy’ with an iron roof, two rooms wrapped in hessian, and no windows except for hessian flaps. Abbey Siding had its own school but then one was built at Hithergreen Group 15 and one at Ruabon Group 32 so theirs closed. Jean walked to Hithergreen four miles away. Her father was allocated 10 cows and the Group had one Jersey Bull. The men were paid to clear and fence the land.

She describes milking, and transport of milk to the Busselton Butter Factory. Dorothy left school at 14 went to Wagin to work. She met Frank Oates at dances – he was from Group 14 at Tutunup and was born in Boulder on 3 November, 1904. They married at the Congregational Church in Busselton on 28 Dec 1932. Frank had taken up land at Group 4 at Kardanup. Their first baby was born in Karridale hospital on 7 Nov 1933. Sadly he died aged nine months. They had Sylvia May, born in Busselton in June 1935 and Barry James born in 1938.

Dorothy talks about her life at Tutunup and bringing up their children in hard times. Dorothy was a Founding Member of Ruabon CWA. Dorothy and Frank lived in the group home until 1970 when they moved into a new one.

Dorothy was awarded Pioneer Woman of the Year in 1990.