Exactly 90 years ago this month, the original opal miners at the Stuart Range Opal Field, were lobbying for a mail service for their settlement.
Old documents belonging to the Coober Pedy Historical Society, still intact, bear witness to the procedures that the Progress Association in 1920 embarked on in order to secure this vital service to their soon to be, official town.
In order to have a mail service, the town must have a name. The documentation on the second open page bears the minutes to the meeting where the voting procedure took place and the opal miners officially voted that the name be Coober Pedy.
In more recent years the old Progress Association (formerly a committee) was replaced by a local council which today is the District Council of Coober Pedy.
Coober Pedy’s third Mayor is Councillor Steve Baines. Ironically, Steve is also the local Post Master. It seems we haven’t moved far away from basic needs where locals multitask themselves in providing services to the remote opal mining town.
The Progress Association Minutes read
RE: Mail Contract
Special Meeting held on June 14th 1920
Meeting was arranged by Secretary at the wish of Mr. White Postal Inspector.
The Chairman Mr. F. James opened meeting at 9.40 AM. He introduced Mr. White, who explained that he came from the P.M.G. DEPARTMENT. RE our petition for a Mail Service.
Mr Carson nominated Mr. J. Fitzgerald for the position of Post Master. Seconded Mr. Sexton.
It was therefore decided that we recommend Mr. Fitzgerald for the position.
Mr. Cavanagh moved. That the mail route be held in obeyance for one week so that tenders can be obtained.
Sec. Mr. H. Burns. Ammendment by Mr. E. Colley that Contract be let via William Creek. Seconded Mr. James.
Meeting closed at 10.20 AM.
[Signed] M. F. James
THE NAMING OF COOBER PEDY
For many, many years the area that contained opal in the far north of South Australia was referred to as the Stuart Range, in fact it still is.
It wasn’t until the need for the mail service that the settlement needed a name of it’s own.
The minutes displayed to the right (in photo) contain the voting process used by the Progress Association to establish the name of a seperate town, dated 26th June 1920
The meeting commenced at 7.45pm. The committee voted on and adopted the name Coober Pedy as the new name of the town. The proposed names and their final votes are below;
Hutchison 5 votes
Coober Pedy 16 votes
Opal Range 12 votes
Gemville 3 votes
Consequently the name Coober Pedy was adopted and of course remains to this day.
The choice of name is said to have come from the local tribe who called the opal mining process, Kupa Piti, meaning “white man in a hole.”
Saturday 26 June will be the 90th Anniversary of this mile stone event in Coober Pedy’s colourful history.
Categories: COOBER PEDY News & Events