Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Coober Pedy Together

Rod and I welcome you all to Government House and are pleased to have this opportunity to return the warm hospitality we received in Coober Pedy during our visit exactly a year ago.

To members of the Coober Pedy community, we hope you have had a productive time in Adelaide.

This evening we have gathered to celebrate the work of the ‘Coober Pedy Together’ initiative.

We have also gathered to thank the many friends and allies of Coober Pedy, and to invite and welcome new friends and allies to join the community on its journey ahead.

During our visit, Rod and I were struck by the extraordinary qualities of the township and its people and the region.

This ancient land is the opal mining capital of the world : its landscape has been the backdrop to many local and international films; its dugouts are a compelling a tourist attraction; its artists tell a story which is tens of thousands of years old.

Just look at the King’s Opal Collection displayed here, along with Tanya van Horen’s beautiful painting, which Rod and I purchased during our visit and which normally hangs in our apartment upstairs.

As we are all aware, Coober Pedy faces a range of not inconsiderable challenges.

Addressing these challenges, as well as leveraging the region’s strengths, presents a complex yet exciting opportunity.

In a rare, if not unique, approach in Australia, Coober Pedy seeks to transform its community and town into a model of remote regional development.

To achieve this, the region is drawing on its unique DNA of self-reliance, independence, ingenuity, and generosity, qualities which are embedded in the region’s history and ancestry – from the indigenous people who have inhabited the desert since ancient times, to the settlers who built a town and mining industry in remote lands.

During our visit, Rod and I spent time with the Coober Pedy Together facilitation group, discussing their goals and witnessing their enthusiasm for, and dedication to, building a strong future for their town.

We were touched, when, at the end of our three-day visit, we were made honorary citizens of Coober Pedy.

We are heartened by Coober Pedy Together’s vision for Coober Pedy as a regional hub for Far North South Australia, which contributes to the state’s visitor economy as a must-visit destination.

We are inspired by the group’s focus on sustainable development in remote energy generation, water provision and conservation, economic development, the delivery of integrated health services, social integration, and education and training.

We are heartened by its focus on openness and transparency, promoting people-to-people connections and grassroots action that provides many opportunities for the broader community to be involved.

I recently received an update from Michael Edgecomb on the group’s activities over the past 12 months.

I was pleased to learn that the group has received some new members and that conversations are strengthening and deepening between community groups, indigenous communities and mining representatives.

I was also pleased to learn Coober Pedy’s first ever Fringe event was a success, and that plans are underway for a new music festival to bring thousands of people to the region.


Coober Pedy Together, with the support of the Council and broader community, is creating a real movement for change.

Friends and allies in the room this evening, I encourage you to join them.

May we all work together to support Coober Pedy’s wonderful community achieve its aims.

Coming events