Coober Pedy News

No 76                          4 March  2005

Archived copy 

Editorial       Classifieds       Blog

New radio station now available in Coober Pedy

Broadcast from Brisbane from the United Christian Broadcasters, Vision Radio is on 87.6 FM. The signal is sent to the Optus B3 satellite and transmitted to Coober Pedy via apparatus on top of Hospital Hill. The station provides an easy listening mix of 100% Christian music with a combination of classic songs and the latest hits, plus motivational teaching and lifestyle programmes from a range of Australian and international speakers, 65% music, 35% talk.

It can also be heard on the internet at

The infrastructure on Hospital Hill was paid mostly by the Coober Pedy Assembly of God Family Church and the Catacomb Church, with a contribution by the Kupa Piti Christian Centre Assembly of God.


No Pokies 4 Coober Pedy 

The SA Upper House No Pokies Member Nick Xenophon will visit Coober Pedy late this month to consolidate local efforts to rid the town of poker machines. A local committee will be formed, and a website, paid by Mr Xenophon's office, will be launched.


Virgin Rainbow on Ebay

                                                                                    The opening bid price is 1.5 Million dollars.

With nearly 5 days left of the 10 day listing, there has not yet been any bid made, with  over 500 viewings.

To check it out, copy and paste this URL:


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.


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.


News from Oxiana 

In a press release, Oxiana announces:


Oxiana  commences the first leg of a North American and European
roadshow, with Managing Director Owen Hegarty presenting at the BMO
Nesbitt Burns 2005 Global Resources Conference in Florida.

The roadshow will continue over two weeks and in addition to briefings
to financial institutions will include presentations at the Prospectors
and Developers Association of Canada Convention 2005 in Toronto, the
CitigroupAustralia and New Zealand 2nd Annual Investment Conference in
London and the Macquarie Australian Gold Conference in Zurich.

Managing Director Owen Hegarty said that “the roadshow was a good time
to update overseas investors on the company’s activities, before the
production of first copper”.


Hi Mate,

I am writing to you because I need your help to get me pilot's
license back. You keep telling me you got all the right contacts. Well
now's your chance to make something happen for me because, mate, I'm 
desperate. But first, I'd better tell you what happened during my last
flight review with the CAA examiner.

On the phone, Ron (that's the CAA guy) seemed a reasonable sort of bloke. He
politely reminded me of the need to do a flight review every two years. He
even offered to drive out, have a look over my property, and let me operate
from my own strip.

Naturally I agreed to that.

Anyway, Ron turned up last Wednesday. First up, he said he was a bit
surprised to see the plane on a small strip outside my homestead because the
ALA (Authorized Landing Area) is about a mile away. I explained that because
this strip was so close to the homestead it was more convenient than the
ALA, and despite the power lines that cross about midway down the strip it's
really not a problem to land and take-off because at the half-way point down
the strip you're usually still on the ground.

For some reason Ron seemed nervous. So although I had done the pre-flight
inspection only four days earlier I decided to do it all over again. Because
Ron was watching me carefully, I walked around the plane three times instead
of my usual two. My effort was rewarded because the colour finally returned
to Ron's cheeks. In fact, they were a bright red.

In view of Ron's obviously better mood, I told him that I was going to
combine the test with some farm work as I had to deliver three poddy calves
from the home paddock to the main herd. After a bit of a chase I finally
caught the calves and threw them into the back of the ol' Cessna 172.

We climbed aboard but Ron started getting on to me about weight and balance
calculations and all that stuff. Of course I knew that thing was a waste of
time because calves like to move around a bit, particularly when they see
themselves 500 feet off the ground. So it's pointless trying to
secure them as you know. However, I did tell Ron that he shouldn't worry as
I always keep the trim wheelset on neutral to ensure that we remain pretty
stable at all stages throughout the flight.

Anyway, I started the engine and cleverly minimized the warm-up time by
tramping hard on the brakes and gunned her to 2,500 rpm. I then discovered
                   that Ron has very acute hearing, even though he was wearing a headset.                                

Through all that noise he detected a metallic rattle and demanded
that I account for it. Actually it began about a month ago and was caused by
a screwdriver that fell down a hole in the floor and lodged in the fuel
selector mechanism. The selector can't be moved now but it doesn't matter
because it's jammed on "All Tanks" so I suppose that's okay.

However, as Ron was obviously a real nit-picker, I blamed the noise on a
vibration from a steel thermos flask which I keep in a beaut possie between
the windshield and the magnetic compass. My explanation seemed to relax Ron
because he slumped back in the seat and kept looking up at the cockpit roof.

I released the brakes to taxi out but unfortunately the plane gave a leap
and spun to the right. "Hell", I thought, "not the starboard chalk again."
The bump jolted Ron back to full alertness. He looked wildly around just in
time to see a rock thrown by the propwash disappear completely through the
windscreen of his brand new Commodore.

While Ron was ranting about his car, I ignored his requirement that we taxi
to the ALA and instead took off under the power lines. Ron didn't say a word,
at least not until the engine started coughing right at the lift off point,
then he screamed his head off.

"Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!"

"Now take it easy, Ron" I told him firmly. "That often happens after
take-off and there is a good reason for it." I explained patiently that I
usually run the plane on standard MOGAS, but one day I accidentally put in a
gallon or two of kerosene. To compensate for the low octane of the kerosene
I siphoned in a few gallons of super MOGAS and shook the wings up and down a
few times to mix it up.

Since then, the engine has been coughing a bit but in general it works just
fine if you know how to coax it properly. Anyway, at this stage, Ron seemed
to lose all interest in my flight test.

He pulled out some rosary beads, closed his eyes and became lost in prayer.
(I didn't think that anybody was a Catholic these days.)

I selected some nice music on the HF radio to help him relax. Meanwhile, I
climbed to my normal cruising altitude of 10,500 feet. I don't normally put
in a flight plan or get the weather because, as you know getting fax access
out here is a joke and the weather is always 8/8 blue anyway.
But since I had that near miss with a Saab 340 I might have to change my
thinking on that. Anyhow, on levelling out I noticed some wild camels heading
into my improved pasture.

I hate camels and always carry a loaded .303 clipped inside the door
of the Cessna just in case I see any. We were too high to
hit them, but as a matter of principle, I decided to have a go through the
open window. Mate, when I pulled the rifle out the effect on Ron was

As I fired the first shot his neck lengthened by about six inches and his
eyes bulged like a rabbit with myxo. He really looked as if he had been
jabbed with an electric cattle prod on full power. In fact, Ron's reaction
was so distracting that I lost concentration for a second and the next shot
went straight through the port tyre. Ron was a bit upset about the shooting
(probably one of those pinko animal lovers I guess) so I decided not to tell
him about our little problem with the tyre.

Shortly afterwards I located the main herd and decided to do my fighter
pilot trick. Ron had gone back to praying when, in one smooth sequence, I
pulled on full flaps, cut the power and started a sideslip from 10,500 feet
down to 500 feet and 130 knots indicated
(the last time I looked anyway) and the little needle rushing up the red
area on me ASI. What a buzz, mate! About half way through the descent I
looked back in the cabin to see the calves suspended in mid air and mooing
like crazy. I was going to comment on this unusual sight but Ron looked a
bit green and had rolled himself into the fetal position and was screamin'
his freaking head off.

Mate, talk about being in a zoo.

You should have been there, it was so funny.

At about 500 feet I attempted to level out. For some reason we continued
sinking. When we reached 50 feet I applied full power but nothing happened;
no noise, no nothin'. Then, luckily, I heard me instructor's voice in me head
saying "carby heat, carby heat". So I pulled carby heat on and that helped
quite a lot, with the engine finally regaining full power. Whew, that was
really close, let me tell you.

Then mate, you'll never guess what happened next!

As luck would have it, at that height we flew into a massive dust cloud
caused by the cattle and suddenly went I.F.R. You would've been
proud of me as I didn't panic once, not once, but I did make a mental
note to consider an instrument rating as soon as me gyro is repaired.
(Something I've been meaning to do for a while now.)

Suddenly Ron's elongated neck and bulging eyes reappeared. His mouth opened
wide, very wide, but no sound emerged. "Take it easy," I told him. "We'll be
out of this in a minute." Sure enough, about a minute later we emerge; still
straight and level and still at 50 feet. Admittedly, I was surprised to
notice that we were upside down and I kept thinking to myself, "I hope Ron
didn't notice that I had forgotten to set the QNH when we were taxiing".

This minor tribulation forced me to fly to a nearby valley in which I had to
do a half roll to get upright again.

By now the main herd had divided into two groups leaving a narrow strip
between them. "Ah!," I thought, "there's an omen. We'll land right there."

Knowing that the tyre problem demanded a slow approach, I flew a couple of
steep turns with full flap. Soon the stall warning horn was blaring so loud
in me ear that I cut it's circuit breaker to shut it up, but by then I knew
we were slow enough anyway. I turned steeply into a 75 foot final and put
her down with a real thud.

Strangely enough, I had always thought you could only ground loop in a tail
dragger but, as usual, I was proved wrong again.

Halfway through our third loop Ron at last recovered his sense of humour.

Talk about laugh. I've never seen the likes of it. He couldn't stop. We
finally rolled to a halt and I released the calves, who bolted out of the
aircraft like there was no tomorrow.

I then began picking clumps of dry grass. Between gut wrenching fits of
laughter, Ron asked what I was doing. I explained that we had to stuff the
port tyre with grass so we could fly back to the homestead. It was then that
Ron really lost the plot and started running away from the aircraft.

Can you believe it? The last time I saw him he was off into the distance,
arms flailing in the air and still shrieking with laughter. I later heard
that he had been confined to a psychiatric institution- -poor fella.

Anyhow, mate, that's enough about Ron. The problem is, I just got a letter
from CASA withdrawing, as they put it, my privileges to fly; until I have
undergone a complete pilot training course again and undertaken another
flight proficiency test. Now I admit that I made a mistake in taxiing over
the wheel chock and not setting the QNH using strip elevation, but I can't
see what else I did that was so bad that they have to withdraw me
flamin' license. Can you?