Gemfields residents can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their special parcels will arrive at the right place and, in the event of an emergency, the ambulance and fire brigade will know where to go.
The good news comes two years after the famous fossicking town communities approached the Central Highlands Regional Council with a petition asking for help to sort out their identity crisis.
Mayor Kerry Hayes said council was more than willing to navigate the complex process of applying to the state government to change the locality boundaries.
‘There were three contributing factors to the problem,’ the mayor explained.
‘Postcodes, addresses and localities. Postcodes are administered by Australia Post and changing the postcode wouldn’t help because of the locality. Addressing has to comply with national standards and have a number, street name, locality and state. This is what was affecting the efficient delivery of freight and attendance of emergency service in The Gemfields.
‘Addresses are now being geo-coded, where the address number and road name are mapped to the GPS coordinates with locality and suburb—experienced by forms auto-completing when doing online shopping for example.
‘Changing the single locality of The Gemfields was the most practical and immediate solution to the problems the community was experiencing,’ the mayor said.
‘The sticking point was, that in creating new localities for Sapphire, Rubyvale and Anakie, the town names could not be used for locality names because locality names can’t be duplicated in Australia and these names were already taken.
‘After much consultation with the community, the locality boundaries were physically created on a map and each given a name that related to the town names: Sapphire Central, Rubyvale, and Anakie Siding—names that acknowledge the railway heritage of the district.
‘Included in this project was the moving of the Emerald locality boundary to include the Fairbairn Dam community,’ the mayor said.
‘Once the boundaries were established and the names agreed upon, the state government arranged passage of the changes through to the official publishing in the Government Gazette.’
The state government has updated its databases and online mapping portal and council is updating its records.
‘Gemfields’ residents can now use the new locality names in their addresses to ensure mail delivery is more accurate, but it may be some time before Google and other online databases react,’ the mayor said.
Rubyvale Gem Gallery owner and tourism advocate Peter Brown said he was ‘thankful’ to council for getting the matter finalised.
‘It’s been a long process; I have letters to Australia Post about this matter that go back to 1996,’ Mr Brown said.
‘It’s all about the stories and the history,’ he explained. ‘The Gemfields is a collection of four towns and we need to preserve their identity, character, place and history.’
Gemfields Community Reference Group member and local resident Kim Tompson said she was ‘really grateful it has gone through.’
‘This is going to make a massive difference here, but people must be patient because the change will take time.
‘It will be nice to see the locality names appear on drop down boxes when completing online forms and it will be fantastic to pinpoint where someone lives for services such as Meals on Wheels and emergency services,’ she said.
‘Council was pleased to assist,’ the mayor concluded. ‘But the community should also be proud of the way it united and collaborated to solve a long-standing issue.’