Growth, decline and change.
These three qualities have been witnessed by Claire White in her 56 years living in the town of Yaapeet.
Mrs White moved to the area in 1965 as a newly-married teacher, originally from Maryborough.
She said back then, Yaapeet was a thriving town with a relatively decent-sized population.
"Yaapeet used to be a very thriving town, like most little towns. But of course as we have lost population you lose your footy club, your garage, your shop. They have all gone so it is fairly small now," she said.
Over the years, many things changed; farms grew bigger and concentrated around a smaller group of farming families, Yaapeet's football club disbanded in 2000, and many left the small town for greener pastures.
Throughout the years, Mrs White documented and archived the changes to the town and the people in it, work that earned her an Order of Australia honour.
Mrs White started her career as a teacher at the Bendigo Teachers College in 1961.
Her first posting in the southern Mallee was at the Yaapeet Primary School, which she would leave and eventually come back to at the end of her career.
Mrs White also taught at Rainbow, Hopetoun and Woomelang primary schools and said throughout her half-a-century teaching career, some things remained the same.
"Always primary schools. Mainly the young ones," she said.
"I was very fortunate to have many beautiful young kids, wonderful parents and teachers to work with. I have been very blessed.
"Classes have gotten smaller. Numbers in this part of the world have gotten so small that it has made a big difference to life at school. Kids aren't different, they have always been the same, fun."
In 2018, the Yaapeet Primary School celebrated its 90th birthday. Mrs White was an honorary researcher for a book commissioned to commemorate the milestone and spoke to many teachers and students throughout the writing process.
"I was able to contact maybe 130 teachers and students of the school and collect their memories to compile into a book. So that was a bit of a highlight of those days," she said.
Beyond her teaching career, Mrs White has been an active member of many community groups in Yaapeet, most notably as secretary of the Yaapeet Community Club.
Since retirement, she has kept herself busy documenting the collective memories of the town, which without her, may have faded into obscurity.
"The older people who knew those good times are disappearing," she said.
"Since then, I have retired, but I have gone on to collect a lot of history of the Yaapeet football and netball club, tennis club, old photos and families of the area. I have got a dozen A2 folders with that information in there that people can access and enjoy, so that has been good too.
"Down in our shed we have about 10m of photos and cuttings that we have put together that we enjoy. Visitors that come down to our campsite can come and enjoy it too. It's good."
Rainbow-born parliamentarian and Horsham Rural City Council figure Peter Fisher nominated Mrs White for the award.
She initially thought her nomination was a hoax and threw the confirmation letter out before realising.
Throughout all her years in Yaapeet, Mrs White said it was the people she loved the most.
"They are just good, genuine people. They have been fabulous to me as a foreigner I suppose. They have always looked after me. It has been a great place to raise kids," she said.
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