THE ACADEMY

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Terry
Posts: 2766
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:53 pm

THE ACADEMY

Post by Terry » Tue Dec 23, 2014 7:51 pm

THE ACADEMY

For a fair while home at Coober Pedy in the sixties for myself and mate Gunther, was an old brush hut; better known as the ‘Academy’.
Many weird yet wonderful get-togethers took place within what passed for walls in our old hut.

There were also card games of all varieties, (bet limit threepence) plus Canasta nights and so on.

On at least one occasion we held a séance with a genuine Widgie Board where we summoned up some spirits, albeit with a bit of help from Don the Yank whose finger the visiting spirit’s seemed to take over, or though he swore otherwise. Mind you when I used a little bit of reverse pressure, Don’s finger tip turned white with endeavour.

The names of those who were regular visitors to the Academy (or those I can still remember) were Don and wife Darlene, as mentioned they hailed from America (sadly Don later committed suicide.)

Then there was Brendon a first year school teacher whom we managed to lead well and truly astray. (Brendon was later to be best man when I got married).

And of course there was Colin a sort of jack of all trades; Colin was later tragically murdered.

Also there was John of crapper phone fame; we gave him that name after he told us a yarn about when he was in prison. He reckoned the Crims used to be able to communicate when the loo’s were flushed. Having, probably through more good fortune than anything else, never been in Jail, I can’t confirm if this is true. John had a mate called Jock a Scot, who was always railing away about Kirk for some reason or other.

Then of course there Gunther my partner (the mining type – we didn’t have those other ones in those days – not openly anyway) and me of course.

These few made up the main core group of Academy Diehards. There were others of course who drifted in and out from time to time when invited. But the Academy being very exclusive, invites were hard to come by.
We often held discussions on things like the Supernatural, mystic powers, space and so on I’m sure Stephen Hawkin would have felt right at home among us. Although I’m not sure what he would have thought if he’d seen us walking around in the moonlight blindfolded and using our supposed new found powers to discover pockets of opal 30 foot underground.

But it was all good fun and interestingly there was never any drinking to muddle our thinking,
Although I’m sure that some reading this will assume our minds sound pretty muddled anyway.

©T.E. Piggott

r.magnay
Posts: 1378
Joined: Sun Oct 31, 2010 1:41 pm
Location: Port Lincoln SA

Re: THE ACADEMY

Post by r.magnay » Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:56 am

G'Day Terry, as you know I have spent a bit of time in Coober myself so you will have no trouble convincing me that the story is true...except for the part about no grog.. ;) must have been a lot less holes there then if you walked around blindfolded and didn't end up down one!
Last edited by r.magnay on Thu Dec 25, 2014 7:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
Ross

Terry
Posts: 2766
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:53 pm

Re: THE ACADEMY

Post by Terry » Wed Dec 24, 2014 1:12 pm

G/day Ross.
The hut was out on the edge of what was called the Flat with Flat Hill just behind, the area behind the hut was extensively mined with hardly a yard between mines, as was the Flat Hill. But there was a large area between the Flat (and our hut) and what was then known as the New Flat with just a few scattered holes on it where we used to wander about.

As for the lack of grog mate we were mostly too poor in the early days to afford any. One Christmas Pepi Coro the Miners Store owner gave Gunther a bottle of wine and me a large bottle of beer for a Christmas present which probably went pretty well with a tin of Bully Beef or such like.

The first couple of years there were more a matter of surviving and getting just enough tucker money to get by. We had a bit better luck after that and could even afford a few luxuries from time to time.

It was a great place in those days Ross with just a very small population, I personally think it went steadily down hill after that with the large increase in population and the problems that brings with it.

Cheers Terry

Neville Briggs
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Joined: Sun Oct 31, 2010 12:08 pm
Location: Here

Re: THE ACADEMY

Post by Neville Briggs » Wed Dec 24, 2014 1:46 pm

Did any of them make any good money from the opals :)
Neville
Singleton Bush Poets.

Terry
Posts: 2766
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:53 pm

Re: THE ACADEMY

Post by Terry » Wed Dec 24, 2014 3:34 pm

G/day Neville
Most of us probably made a reasonable living Neville without ever finding a fortune, the mining game is full of highs and lows, mostly lows.
Fortunes were made by a few and a lot of those lucky ones still managed to blow the lot sooner or later.

I've always felt the gold game was a better bet; Gold's a bit like picking up $100 dollar notes and immediately salable, while opal's value's in the eye of the beholder.
If I was advising anyone who was thinking of trying one or the other, I'd still suggest gold but even that's now a lot harder than it used to be. And you need to be the right sort of person because of the isolation, to be successful you usually have to get as far away from the mob as possible, at least with opal there are lot's of people around.

Cheers Terry

r.magnay
Posts: 1378
Joined: Sun Oct 31, 2010 1:41 pm
Location: Port Lincoln SA

Re: THE ACADEMY

Post by r.magnay » Thu Dec 25, 2014 7:15 am

A lot of people made a lot of money out of opals, not all of them are miners though and many of the ones who did make a good quid soon sunk it back into the mining, or at least the mining lifestyle!
Ross

Terry
Posts: 2766
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:53 pm

Re: THE ACADEMY

Post by Terry » Thu Dec 25, 2014 10:40 am

The Chinese Buyers made the most money I reckon Ross, but they didn't show up when until after I left.
I ran a small wholesale opal cutting business in Perth Just after I got Married 1968 I later did some business with Jackson Lou,
He was the biggest of the Chinese Buyers and a very honorable man as well.

It was when the first detectors arrived that I got fully into gold prospecting in the mid to late seventies although I did have a quick dash at at traditional gold mining and crushing at the Yarrie state Battery before then. I also had a very understanding wife who have put up with me being away for fairly long periods. She later prospected full time with me for about 10 years once the kids had grown up.

Cheers Terry

r.magnay
Posts: 1378
Joined: Sun Oct 31, 2010 1:41 pm
Location: Port Lincoln SA

Re: THE ACADEMY

Post by r.magnay » Fri Dec 26, 2014 7:18 am

Yeah Terry, the buyers (not only Chinese) made the money I think, though some miners turned a lot of money over too, seems that when they found some they always reckon there was a bigger parcel waiting for them. I knew of Jackson Lou but didn't know him, I was never really a miner at Coober Pedy, but I spent some time there for various reasons. I did get involved a bit more in the opal mining at Mintabie but even then only on a small scale.

Mintabie Miner
© Ross Magnay 10/91
Amongst the scraggy mulga and flies and sand of red,
Machines and men are working in the hope to get ahead,
Working hard at excavation, both machines and men as one,
As they search for hidden treasure, beneath the outback sun.

Smelling fumes of burning diesel, on sandstone hard and white,
Hear the screech of hardened metal as the ripper takes a bite,
And the stones roll out for checkers as they walk behind the rip,
Eyes glued to the ripper mark and set to use the pick.

And the prize that they are seeking is a gem of flashing hues,
Of silica and centuries and reds and greens and blues.

In a vein of glass hard colour lays the hopes of all concerned,
And word will quickly spread around when it at last is turned.
And sun from overhead beats down, the sweat begins to drip,
And you’ll hear, though maybe tongue in check, “She’ll be in the next rip!”

And the grouser plates are rattling as the sandstones pushed away,
And the miners are all hoping that they’ll find the stuff today,
And if they find it or they miss right out, there’s one thing that’s for sure,
Once you’re an opal miner, you will always look for more!
Ross

Terry
Posts: 2766
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:53 pm

Re: THE ACADEMY

Post by Terry » Fri Dec 26, 2014 11:22 am

Spot on Ross
They all think there's a bigger one waiting if they just keep looking - gold's a bit the same.

As you no doubt know there were some very big parcels come out of Mintabie $1000.000 + parcels were not that uncommon.

I cut a lot of Mintabie opal but had left by the time it really got going.

It was known for many years before, a couple of friends and I went out there years before it really got underway,
we went to pick up an old bus for another bloke. there was no one working there then but I do remember wandering around the little work that had been done at that time picking up big pieces of black potch.

I've never been back since and wouldn't recognize the place now as there were only a few shallow diggings there then in very hard ground.

Cheers Enjoyed your poem Ross.

Terry

Heather

Re: THE ACADEMY

Post by Heather » Sat Dec 27, 2014 8:41 am

I love your yarns too Terry and this one is full of interesting characters and anecdotes. I enjoyed the vision of you at a séance, smiled at the teacher led astray and laughed at the thought of crims communicating by morse code by flushing the loo.

Heather :)

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