Local teacher at Coober Pedy Area School, Matthew Key has taken on a Deputy Principal role at Mount Gambier and will leave Coober Pedy with his family in July. Matt and Kim Key have been part of the Coober Pedy community since 2014
Matt wanted to tell the community himself that he and his family were leaving and at the same time express his gratitude for the lessons learned in Coober Pedy and the wonderful experiences that living in our remote, opal mining town has brought to him and his family over the past 7 years that have unreservedly earned him the title of ‘local’.
Matt’s letter to the Coober Pedy community
When Kim and I first rocked up in Coober Pedy, we really had no idea what to expect. We’d heard about opals, and dugouts, and dust, and flies, and Mad Max.
We hadn’t heard about the lovely, supportive community, the amazing volunteers, and the sense of family that is found when you live in an isolated community. We came to Coober Pedy childless, and I had won a position at the school to teach English.
On my first day at Coober Pedy Area School in early 2014 one of the students looked me up and down, and with a cheeky grin told me that there was no way I’d even last a year here. We are now nearly 7 years on, and we don’t want to leave. It is bittersweet to talk to people about leaving.
We will be travelling way south to Mt Gambier in July as I take on a new challenge in a new community. It is hard to leave Coober Pedy, but I feel grateful for the time we have spent here which has allowed me to grow from teaching English, to working as a well-being leader, completing two graduate certificates, and now with my family, leaving for a new role as a deputy principal.
We arrived with little, but are leaving with two cheeky children, a dog, and a lifetime of memories. Coober Pedy has been a wonderful place to have children. The support of childcare, baby-bounce, little musicians, playgroups, parenting programs, a world-class kindy and wonderful friends has meant that our kids have had an amazing start to life.
Our children learnt resilience, acceptance, kindness and playfulness in a way that they would not have been able to anywhere else in the world. And we are all forever grateful to the amazing staff and friends that we have made along the way for the love that they have shared with our kids.
We arrived with little, but are leaving with two cheeky children, a dog, and a lifetime of memories. Coober Pedy has been a wonderful place to have children.
The support of childcare, baby-bounce, little musicians, playgroups, parenting programs, a world-class kindy and wonderful friends has meant that our kids have had an amazing start to life. They’ve learnt resilience, acceptance, kindness and playfulness in a way that they would not have been able to anywhere else in the world. And we are all forever grateful to the amazing staff and friends that we have made along the way for the love that they have shared with our kids.
I’ve been able to get involved in things that I had never even considered before. How cool is it that as a community we have a drive-in movie theatre and an awesome radio station with the most eclectic music library in the country.
Some of my favourite memories of Coober Pedy are the times that I spent with Bob in the radio, programming obscure tracks and laughing about the Summer of Tennis. I remember the hard work Bob put into getting a toilet put into the radio station, and the incidents that lead to that necessity.
One day I hope that a plaque can be placed on the door of the bathroom, acknowledging the important work that Bob put into the radio station. Perhaps printed on the underside of an iced coffee container.
The drive-in has been responsible for every emotion under the sun in my time as chairperson. From our massive AGM where the town came together to find out what was really going on after a Facebook campaign was held to draw attention to the state of the site, to awesome opportunities to premiere films, be a part of documentaries and be nominated for the Regional SA Showcase, the Drive-In will always hold a special place in my heart.
When the call for volunteers comes out I’d love to see more and more people put their hand up to get involved in supporting this unique attraction. I’d also like to thank Sue Britt for the enormous contribution she makes to protecting Coober Pedy’s history, and always being strong advocate for the drive-in.
So many others volunteer and help out and I’ll never fit everyone’s names in, but for all those who have greeted people at the gate, sold food out the canteen, programmed the films, and pressed the play button, on behalf of the community, I’m so grateful for the support you have offered.
I look forward to new people coming in and stepping up to support the drive in moving forward.
I also need to thank Kim so much for all the Saturday nights she spent as a single parent supporting the running of the drive in by looking after the kids at home. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I’ve had the position of Presiding Member of the Health Advisory Council, and I am so proud of the work made to improving mental health services, working toward reconciliation and improving the lives of our aged care residents.
There is still much to be done in our community, and I implore you to reach out the HAC if you have suggestions, ideas or visions about the future of health in Coober Pedy. The new Board are very receptive to ideas and I trust that the HAC will maintain this positive relationship with both the board and community.
There are thousands of other stories and experiences I’d like to reflect on as this part of our life as a family comes to a close in Coober Pedy. The Opal Festival parades, the amazing school musicals, developing Interoception within the school, graduation ceremonies, golf opens, Breakaway Bolts, and all the amazing friends who have welcomed us into their families.
There are not enough words to describe the unbelievable impact this community has had on our family.
We leave Coober Pedy with fond memories, amazing experiences and as better people. Thank you Coober Pedy, we can’t wait to come back.
Sincerely, Matt Key