Monday, February 28, 2005


Coober Pedy Regional Times (Incorporated) does it again

Being a fortnightly publication in a small, isolated outback town, any article or material published which is 'against' a person living in the town can cause a lot of trouble to the 'accused' and there's nothing much they can do about it for the whole two weeks except wear it. And in a small isolated town, it can sometimes be pretty difficult to wear.
The Coober Pedy Regional Times (formerly the Coober Pedy Times) has a history going back to 1984 of untrained "journalists" causing trouble by publishing articles etc that are not based on fact but on hearsay, and publishing information without appropriate consultation with authorities, that causes personal hardship. The most extreme effect of this loose cannon publishing has been the bombing of its office a few years ago, and break-ins and vandalism more recently.
The paper has always been run by a voluntary committee, most of which changes frequently, depending on which 'blow-in' gets talked into doing their bit for the 'community'. They hire mostly untrained and inexperienced, well-meaning people who are told that there is a certain amount of extra unpaid work involved, but somehow the committee is always able to convince those they hire that they will be doing everybody a great favour by donating their private time.
The end result of each new worker doing all this unpaid time is frustration and accompanied copious errors of judgement, syntax, grammar, spelling and sometimes just plain incompetence, no matter how good the intention is. This results in appeals for more voluntary workers, and continual appeals to the District Council of Coober Pedy for funds to drag the paper out of impending oblivion. From comments made at Council meetings it is easy to see that the Council is fed up with having to continually bail out the paper.
The continually changing committee has probably never in its 21 year history offered any type of journalistic training, or apprenticeship, or long term security of employment for any of its workers. That the workers change just about every year is ample evidence that the positions offered turn out to be humanly unacceptable.
At present there is a situation of the paper accepting and publishing a full page advertisement directed against the conduct of an individual of the town. The material has not received an iota of attention in the paper previously - no editorial, no letters to the editor, nothing of background information to do with the matter, that has been simmering for months and probably years.
And no right of reply offered to the accused individual.
There it is man, a full page ad (just like when the national Drug Authority withdrew those pharmaceutical products) - cop it sweet and see if you can come out of it smiling and saying,
"Isn't it wonderful to have a COMMUNITY newspaper!"


Virgin Rainbow on Ebay

Up for 1.5 Million dollars.

Ends 11-Mar-05 12:00:00 AEDST.

Copy and paste this URL:

Friday, February 25, 2005


Google on Noodle (no parallel to Stratford on Avon)

Search Google on 'Noodle' and the first 20 references are to do with fishing by hand for catfish in the USA.
And we all know about the cooking noodle made of flour and used in pasta and spaghetti bolognaise.

But in the opal industry 'noodle' is equivalent to 'fossick', as in using your hands to sort through waste dirt for pieces of gold.
To noodle for opal is to sort through waste dirt for opal.
The simplest way is by hand.
A major problem in sorting opal from waste on the Coober Pedy Precious Stones Field is the fine white powdery dust produced by the disturbance of the ground that is necessary in opal mining.
The dust covers everything, including the broken-glass-like appearance of opal.
By hand the best way to noodle is to shovel the waste dirt into a seive and shake it to get rid of the dust, then by hand roll over each large piece of dirt to look for any opal embedded in it, or broken pieces of opal.
On a larger scale a loader is used to dump cubic metres of waste onto a grizzly, which lets really large pieces fall off. Under the grizzly is a bin to receive the smaller pieces and all the dust. The dust is let fall through to the ground and the smaller pieces are directed into a 'darkroom' and let fall through a wide chute onto a moving belt under an ultra-violet fluorescent light. Opal shines (fluoresces) in this light (so do cotton waste, grease dollops and cigarette butts!). Pickers in the dark room run their hands over the lumps on the moving belt, rolling them around, and grab anything that fluoresces and put it aside. Later on those pieces taken from the darkroom and from the field to the miner's home to be washed in water and checked for colour, before being selected piece by piece for processing into gem quality opal.
All the above operations on the field are combined in various ways in mostly individually built units called "noodling machines".
Noodling machines have been in operation for many years on the opal field, and rely on machinery components that have long ago been patented (like bearings for example) and are all readily available for purchase in any major hardware or machinery outlet.


Angel Flight helps Coober Pedy Family

Angel Flight flew Nathan Aretas' wife Bonna and daughter Angie (7) and son Matt (15 months) from Coober Pedy to Adelaide absolutely free of charge on Friday 25th February.
Angel Flight's media release says, "Now being treated at the Royal Adelaide Hospital for Multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cell, 33-year old father Nathan Aretas is about to undergo a high dose of chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant".
"With money getting tighter and tighter, Bonna had no chance of affording plane fares to take her and the children to Adelaide to be by Nathan's side and the long journey … (840 km) ... by road with two small children would have added to the emotional and physical stress they are already enduring."
"Based in Adelaide, Angel Flight Pilot John Ashcroft owns a house building business and is looking forward to what will be his first Angel Flight Mission."
"Earth Angels will transport the family from the Parafield Airport in Adeaide to their destination in Adelaide."

Angel Flight is generously supported by Demazin.
Angel Flight's website URL is
Angel Fight Australia is a not for profit charity and is recognised by the ATO as a deductable gift recipient. All donations $2 and over are tax deductable.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Patently obvious

In the Coober Pedy Regional Times of Feb 10 is a Statuary Declaration worded:

"I, Darryl Keith Borrett, of Lot 1666 Crowes Rd., Coober Pedy, Postcode 5723, in the State/Territory of South Australia, Miner, do solemnly and sincerely declare that:
My intention with my patent is solely to cover my invention of the MkII table and that I don't intend to patent any existing components of the noodling machine that is in use within the industry today."


The old new field

Radio 4BC Queensland, Breakfast Chat program Thursday Feb 24 should be interesting.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


The Virgin Rainbow - fossil or not?

The following quoted text was received 23 Feb by the Coober Pedy News
as an email cc.

"The Hon Paul Holloway
Minister for Mineral Development
SA Government

Dear Minister,

Recently I advised you of a claim by a Lightning Ridge
paleontologist that the Virgin Rainbow Belemnite
Crystal Black Opal could not be sold overseas. She
suggested it be donated to a museum or sold locally.

When registering the rare stone for an EBay Listing
with a guaranteed viewing audience of 60 million
people, a statement by Ebay Management alerted us to
check if the item fitted any categories that prevented
a listing. A link lead to the Federal Government's
Natural Heritage and Fossil Artifacts Department.

After an exchange of email the Federal Government
spokesperson representing Fossilized Artifacts and
Natural Heritage items has subsequently laid technical
claim to the precious gem.

We have been cautioned that our opal mining clients
John Dunstan & Steve Zagar cannot sell their opal
listed for private treaty sale at $1.5 million dollars
without it first being assessed by a Federal Officer -
who may or may not consent to issue a Certificate of
Clearance or similar document. Sounds incredible!

In his reply the spokesperson said 'Federal Government
Act pertaining to natural artifacts over ride SA's
Legislation which may also covers this same matter.
That you had endorsed our internet efforts to promote
the find and attract a buyer was dismissed.

He refuted our assertion that because the Virgin
Rainbow Crystal Black Opal formed in a cavity once
occupied by a Belemnite squid - a pre-historic flesh
and cartilaginous species without bone that had
completely disintegrated to form the cavity, it is not
a fossil - and in this regard could be likened to any
other opal. He said it is a 'fossil' and comes under
his jurisdiction.

May I please request your office examine the State Act
concerning any automatic application of SA or
Commonwealth legislation to the Virgin Rainbow and
assist Steve Zagar & John Dunstan in any way possible
to obtain any required permit to sell their opal.

The ABC Reality Bites programme - Opal Fever story
next week features the 2003 discovery and 2004 Tender
Sale for the Virgin Rainbow Opal. It is to be screened
nationally at 8 pm on Tuesday March 1st.

If the above Federal Government spokesperson is
correct and the Virgin Rainbow sale by tender contract
been consented to at the highest bid received ($1.25
mio) and the transaction completed - my clients and I
would have broken the law.

Your Department's assistance is appreciated.

Yours truly

John Wood
For and on behalf of S Zagar and J Dunstan both of
Coober Pedy, co-owners of the Virgin Rainbow Crystal
Black Opal."

Monday, February 14, 2005


Has the Opal King abdicated?

Could it be that there has been a coup and the monarchy (in the opal kingdom) has succumbed to opposition and is now in hiding, or has been exiled?
Ebay no longer has an Opal King. The Opal King User ID 1476max has nothing for sale, has no feedback.
But the Nevada Secretary of State website says that the Australian Opal Mining and Holdings Corporate Status is classified as "Active".
The President is still Maxwell John Reid.
Perhaps this is the case of an interchangable title - President or King, take your pick. An opal mining pick of course.

Monday, February 07, 2005


Opal Fever on ABC

Episode 1 tonight (South Australia)

The Virgin Rainbow, arguably the best stone ever to come out of the Coober Pedy Precious Stones Field, will be featured in Episode 4.


Prominent Hill Progress

In a Media Release on 8 February Owen L Hegarty Managing Director of Oxiana Ltd said that Supreme Court approval has been given for the merger between Oxiana and Minotaur. Oxiana will move to 100% owner of the Prominent Hill copper-gold project which has a resource base of some 100Mt at 1.5% copper and 0.5g/t gold.
The media release quotes Mr Hegarty as saying, "Prominent Hill has the potential to be Australia’s next major gold/copper development.”
Prominent Hill is about 150 km south-east of Coober Pedy.

The 'hill' at Prominent Hill (photo courtesy

Saturday, February 05, 2005


Coober Pedy Football Club up again

Got the grass, got the goalposts, got the team, need a change room.

The Coober Pedy Football Club is again fielding a team in the Woomera and Districts Foootball League after an absence of 10 years. Woomera oval will be the home oval, so, with a five team league, the team will have to travel (about four hours) four weeks out of five. Thirty people will need to be transported. Hopefully by 2006 a change room will be built at the Coober Pedy oval. Then Woomera teams may be willing to play here. Northern Territory's Santa Teresa will bring teams to play during the Opal Festival
It is hoped to have junior football (under 16) teams playing on Saturday afternoon at the Coober Pedy Oval.
(Acknowledgement to the Coober Pedy Regional Times)

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