Coober Pedy News
       No. 52                                                 19 March  2004

Archived copy

                                                                                                             Letters to Editor       

Record Short Council Meeting 

In the absence of Mayor Steve Baines, Deputy Mayor Mike Maylin chaired the 51 minute March meeting.

It was his first time, and it was a lean agenda. CEO Trevor McLeod coached him through and he caught on well.

The Chairman and CEO expressed thanks to outgoing Electricity Supply Manager Brian Mooney.

Water Supply manager Les Hoad  said in his report that an illegal bypass of a water meter had been discovered in the Black Point area. He said that because Council now pays a licence to pump water out of the sub-artesian basin, such activity amounts to stealing, and should be prosecuted to the full.

Unattributed quotes: 

"Why are we going to State-West when what we've got is going so well?"

"Water's still in the pipes."

"Should have flooded Centrelink out altogether."


Cr Harry Blobel  still 'wins the prize' for out-of-order-flippancies. It doesn't make any difference to him who the chairman is.



Colin Thiele Biography Sheds Light on Coober Pedy’s Inspiration   

Feature by Jenny Wynter

Colin Thiele’s fascination with the opal fields of Coober Pedy and the area’s subsequent inspiration for his award-winning children’s book "Fire in the Stone" are explored within the pages of his newly released biography.

"Can I Call You Colin? The authorized biography of Colin Thiele" was launched at the at the Adelaide Festival Writers’ Week on March 5.

Raised in rural South Australia, Colin’s passion for his native landscape shines through many of his most famous works. As principal of Wattle Park Teachers’ College, he had the opportunity to visit Coober Pedy’s local school, a visit which inspired further research and inspiration for "Fire in the Stone".

Biographer Stephany Evans Steggall writes: "Back in Adelaide, he had kept an eye on the newspaper for stories about Coober Pedy and had put together a collection of cuttings about claim robbers, night raiders and trapped miners."

Acclaimed for his impact on both Australian literature and environmental activism, it is not surprising that Colin injected "Fire in the Stone" with a statement against turning Coober Pedy into a tourist destination. Though subject to criticism for using children’s literature for this purpose, Colin nonetheless hoped that his fiction might inspire the next generation to protest against such commercial intrusion.

The book was runner-up in the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Juvenile Mystery in 1974 and was ‘Commended’ in the Australian Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Awards in the same year.

Colin’s inspiration from the land around him is by no means limited to the influence of Coober Pedy on "Fire in the Stone". In the biography’s prologue, it is said that for Colin, success as a writer and a teacher "could only be achieved by keeping in touch with the lad who had known the meaning of a happy childhood on a farm in the Eudunda hills."

To immerse herself in the South Australian landscapes which so informed his work, Evans Steggall, who lived in the state herself briefly in the mid1990s, took it upon herself to re-trace Colin’s footsteps. "I’d travel for a month at a time and write it in chunks – childhood, university years, war service, teaching – I’d go out and research that part of his life, come back with reams of material and then write the chapter." She is now completing an academic version of the book for her Ph.D. thesis at the University of Queensland.

The title of the book stems from comments in many letters written to Colin, in which people would start with ‘Dear Mr Thiele’ but then quickly ask ‘Can I call you Colin? Because I feel as if I know you.’ "The title just seemed so appropriate given the nature of the man."

Can I Call You Colin? The Authorised Biography of Colin Thiele. By Stephany Evans Steggall. Published by New Holland. Available nationally.

For more information please contact:

Stephany Evans Steggall     Ph: (07) 4638 8185     Email:

Jenny Wynter    Ph: (07) 3398 6943    Email:

Picture courtesy of Peter Herriman

l-r Rhonda Thiele, Keith Conlon, Stephany Evans Steggall and Lyn Wood with the original painting by Lyn used for the book cover.


The Council's new multi-purpose vehicle in action