Opal Fields Characters

Below is the entire list of Johno's blog posts relating to Opal Fields Characters.

Yowah Opal Field

20 March 2020 by Johno

While looking through old newspaper archives I came across this story from the "Worker" Brisbane of Monday 21 November 1949 entitled " When the old Grey mare ate the flour and the hops" and now will share it with you. When the old grey mare ate the flour and...

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Opal Mining in the early days at Andamooka

21 February 2020 by Johno

The following was published in the Daily Standard in Brisbane on Friday 21 st June, 1935, not that long after opal had been discovered at Andamooka. The article gives a bit more detail on conditions at Andamooka in those early years of opal mining. "Two sheepherders of Andamooka Station,...

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Minnie Berrington -Andamooka's First Postmistress

4 October 2018 by Johno

A short time after I had published the story of Minnie Berrington I was contacted by Stuart Wattison who had carried out a lot of research into Minnies life. He had dug up copies of certificates including her Miners Right and this has added authentication of her story as told...

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Stephen Aracic - His return to Lightning Ridge

12 July 2018 by Johno

Stephen and Family Head for Lightning RidgeIn February 1965 , after returning to Sydney, Stephen Aracic quit his job at Dunlop Rubber. Feeling restless he set up his own business called Rozelle Radiator Repairs which operated satisfactorily for a while but then became quite a struggle. At the same time...

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Stephen Aracic -

8 June 2018 by Johno

A few months ago, Stephen Aracic made a comment on one of the posts on this website. Stephen is a well known opal miner from Lightning Ridge who has written a number of books on opal mining including "Determined", "Fortunes from the Lost Sea","Fortunes in Australian Opals","Discover Opals Before and...

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Stephen Aracic -Determined Opal Miner - Part Two

8 June 2018 by Johno

In a previous post I summarised the part of Stephen Aracic's book "Determined" which covered his early life in Bosnia and his emigration to Australia. See the post, Stepen Aracic "Determined Opal Miner. This post is a continued summary of the book and starts with Stephen Aracic's first trip to...

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Truck Paintings from the Opal Fields

13 January 2018 by Johno

Wherever you travel in the opal fields in Australia you will find old trucks dumped in the bush. Miners used whatever old trucks they could obtain cheaply and used them to cart mullock (dirt from their mines) or bits and pieces used in their mining ventures. Whenever they broke...

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Ross Coghill's Return To Andamooka Opal Field in 2017

14 December 2017 by Johno

Ross Coghill's Return to Andamooka Ross Coghill has kindly written of his trips to Andamooka in the 1960's and these are presented in earlier posts. In 2017 Ross decided to return to Andamooka to see how things had changed since his earlier visits. This post is Ross's impressions of...

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Ross Coghill's time at Andamooka Opal Field

8 September 2017 by Johno

You will recall in the post "Early days at the Andamooka Opal Field" that Ross Coghill had accompanied his father Ben to the Andamooka Opal field in August of 1959. Ross only stayed a while and then decided to return to Sydney. Ross has kindly sent me another part of...

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A Miners View of White Dam Opal Field

2 April 2017 by Johno

White Dam Opal Field White Dam opal field is situated about 11 km from Andamooka township. Opal was discovered here in 1965 and some beautiful gems have been unearthed. I have written a post about White Dam and you can read it by clicking on White Dam. In...

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More old trucks on the opal fields.

19 March 2017 by Johno

Old Trucks in the Opal Fields There are more old trucks on the opal fields than anywhere else. Early miners usually had little money, and being very mechanically minded, worked out ways to convert old trucks into useful vehicles for the opal fields. Some miners today still use...

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Coocoran Opal Field

19 January 2016 by Johno

Lightning Ridge Opal Fields The Coocoran Opal Field is just one of many fields in Lightning Ridge, where a number of different mining fields are spread over a significant area. If you wish to see the extent of mining in the area check out the site of NSW Resources...

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Lightning Ridge Opal Field - Local Humour

7 December 2015 by Johno

Lightning Ridge Opal Field In 2015 Barbara and I found ourselves at Lightning Ridge again. This time we met up with friends, Dianne and Ken, who had not been here before so it was up to us to show them some of the treasures of "The Ridge'. Opal...

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Charlie Nettleton - Opal Miner legend

26 November 2015 by Johno

Charlie Nettleton Opal MinerCharlie Nettleton has been attributed as having sunk the first opal shaft at Lightning Ridge.It is commonly believed that Jack Murray, a boundary rider on Dunumbral Station, near Angledool NSW, was the first to find opal in the Lightning Ridge area, in a dry creek bed and...

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Tullie Wollaston - Birth of the Opal Fields

30 October 2015 by Johno

Tullie Wollaston, Opal Buyer and Seller, was present at the birth of Austalia's opal fields. In an earlier post I told of his exploits in tracking down Joe Bridle in Queensland with the end result that Tullie Wollaston managed to purchase some Queensland opal and then set up a market...

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Tullie Wollaston - One of the first Opal Dealers

22 October 2015 by Johno

Tullie Wollaston was one of the first opal dealers in Australia. He recognized the value of Australian opal and went to great lengths to travel all over Australia to buy opal directly from the miners and then traveled around the world to establish a market for this gemstone. He describes...

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Lunatic Hill - Lightning Ridge

28 July 2015 by Johno

Lunatic Hill The Lightning Ridge Opal Field has a large number of "mining locations' with very exotic names suggesting strange things happened in the past. Names such as "Deadmans, Revolver, P & O Jacks, Killing Yard, Hornet's Rush, Poverty Point and Frying Pan" can send the mind into a...

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Glengarry Opal Field

6 May 2015 by Johno

Glengarry Opal Field About 45 km from Lightning Ridge there is another extensive opal mining area where mining is still being carried out today. Fields have been established at Glengarry, Grawin, Sheepyard Flat, Carters Rush and Mulga Rush. These fields are all relatively close together and a lively community...

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Lightning Ridge Opal Field 2014

16 October 2014 by Johno

Lightning Ridge Opal Field 2014 As with many of our trips to the opal fields we did not really intend to go there. We set off to escape Melbourne's winter with our destination as Wooli, near Grafton, on the New South Wales coast. We took the kayaks and the...

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Opal Tree - Lightning Ridge Opal Field

15 October 2014 by Johno

Lightning Ridge Opal Field There are many interesting things to see and people to meet at Lightning Ridge and indeed at any of the opal fields. These towns are unique and have attracted a great diversity of characters. I don't think we have visited any of the opal towns...

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Amigo's Castle - Lightning Ridge

13 October 2014 by Johno

Amigo's Castle at Lightning Ridge Opal Field The last time we visited Amigo's Castle was in the 1990's. Amigo was still constructing it with no finish date in sight. He also didn't like visitors at that time so Barbara was lucky to be invited in to take some photographs,...

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Minnie Berrington - Update from a relative

19 April 2014 by Johno

On this website I have written a few blogs on the life of Minnie Berrington, the first woman opal miner at Andamooka. I was fortunate a month or so ago to hear from relatives of Minnie who had read the posts. Both Peter Berrington and his daughter Stephanie contacted...

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Opal Fields - There are some strange creations out there.

10 March 2014 by Johno

The men who work in the opal fields are a hardy lot. The work is extremely hard and the weather conditions are deplorable for much of the time. They are often forced to live in primitive shelters and with few of the modern comforts that we have today. You would...

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Architecture in the Opal Fields

17 February 2014 by Johno

The opal field towns were established at a time when building materials were very scarce and hence the early architects had to very inventive and had to recycle almost everything they could find. The first miners arrived on foot or by horse, or in the case of Andamooka, by primitive...

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Opal Field Relics

13 February 2014 by Johno

As you travel around any of the opal fields, particularly Andamooka, Coober Pedy and Mintabie. you will find a proliferation of old abandoned vehicles. Miners have obviously purchased these at some time to use on the opal fields and when they have become un-repairable they have been left to rot....

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Gemville - Forgotten Opal Field Near White Cliffs

10 November 2013 by Johno

We had visited White Cliffs Opal field on a number of occasions but had not even considered that there were other fields discovered and worked in the area. While reading some of the old opal books I discovered there were quite a few areas worked around White Cliffs. This makes...

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Coober Pedy and Andamooka Opal Fields - Iron Man Jim Shaw

1 November 2013 by Johno

Iron Man Jim Shaw In the history of the opal fields there are always some very eccentric people who pop up. You probably had to be a bit different to head off into the desert to toil in extremely hot and uncomfortable conditions to dig for opal, especially in...

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Minnie Berrington - Life at Andamooka

25 October 2013 by Johno

This post continues Minnie Berrington's story as told in her book " Stones Of Fire". The previous post relating to her story told of her life in Coober Pedy and this one relates to her life at Andamooka, now a small town located approximately 120 km from the Woomera Rocket...

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Minnie Berrington - Summary of her life as told in

23 August 2013 by Johno

Minnie Berrington Minnie Berrington, first woman opal miner at Andamooka, wrote a book about her adventures in Coober Pedy and Andamooka. This book is called "Stones of Fire" A Woman's Experience in Search of Opal. This book was published in 1958 and is well worth reading to gain...

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Queensland Opal Fields - The Eulo Queen

23 July 2013 by Johno

If you have ever driven from Cunnamulla to Thargomindah in southern Queensland you will have passed through the small township of Eulo. If you blink twice you will miss it as there is not much there.It has a cafe, post office, police station, a date farm and of course, the...

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Wooli Beach - How to find Sapphires

1 July 2013 by Johno

It was late May and the weather in Melbourne was getting colder and wetter. It was time to escape north to a better climate and to do some fossicking and fishing. Barbara and I packed the caravan and Hilux with all of the essentials for an unplanned trip. Plenty...

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White Cliffs Opal Field - Early Days

1 July 2013 by Johno

Early Days at White Cliffs The early days at White Cliffs were quite interesting and somewhat different to most other opal fields. The information in this post comes mainly from the book "They struck opal" written by E F Murphy, "The Opal Book" by Frank Leechman and "The Lightning...

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Lightning Ridge Opal Field - Amigo's Castle

14 May 2013 by Johno

There are many amazing sights around Lightning Ridge, but few better than Amigo's Castle. Vittorio Stefanato, known locally as "Amigo", opal miner and castle builder, started his project in 1985 when he started getting tired of opal mining. Initially he sourced his stone from his mining lease but soon...

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Astronomer's Castle - Lightning Ridge Opal Field

14 May 2013 by Johno

Lightning Ridge is famous for its "black opal" but it also has its share of strange buildings. The strangest of all has to be the "Universe Observatory" or "Astronomer's Castle" built by Polish Alex Szperlak. Alex built this monument to the great astronomer...

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Tullie Wollaston - Epic journey to seek opal

29 April 2013 by Johno

It was all very good finding opal in the early days but if no-one wanted to buy it, then there was little use risking your life trying to find it. Still this did not deter the brave souls who ventured into the harsh environment of central Australia to chase opal....

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White Cliffs Solar Station

24 March 2013 by Johno

White Cliffs White Cliffs is famous in Australia as an Opal Town but it is also unique for another reason. It was the site for world's first experimental solar station for supplying power to small outback towns. In 1979 New South Wales was experiencing major political problems. Premier...

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Coober Pedy Opal Field - Original Discovery of Opal

13 February 2013 by Johno

It seems that the discovery of opal in Australia was often due to chance with many of the discoverers either looking for something else or drilling for water in the outback. When we understand how opal was formed it is not a surprise. Most opal is buried deep beneath the...

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Coober Pedy Opal Field - Harry the Crocodile Man

24 January 2013 by Johno

If ever you travel through any of the opal towns it pays to stay awhile and talk to the locals. For some reason these places attract some of the real characters from all around the world. If you are looking to buy a small parcel of opal it gives you...

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Things at Coober Pedy Opal Field - 2012

23 January 2013 by Johno

Whenever you visit the opal fields there is much more to see than just opal mines and shops selling opal. There are all sorts of amazing and innovative machinery. There are all sorts of interesting buildings and there are other "things". This post includes pictures of machines, cars, buildings and...

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Minnie Berrington - First woman opal miner at Andamooka

13 January 2012 by Johno

In 1926, Minnie Berrington, a young typist from London arrived at Coober Pedy becoming one of only 3 women on that opal field at that time. Conditions may not look all that good at Coober Pedy today but at that time they would have been much worse. Access to...

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Brian Tansell - Long time opal miner from Andamooka Opal Field

4 January 2012 by Johno

This is a brief story about Brian Tansell, a regular resident of Andamooka since 1968. This story was told to me by Brian himself on 30th June 2011. Below is a photograph of Brian taken in 2012. Brian is well known in Andamooka...

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White Dam Opal Field - 2007

2 May 2010 by Johno

The photograph below is of the White Dam Opal field. In July 2007, my wife Barbara and I visited Andamooka. We camped in the Andamooka Caravan Park which is on the main road into Andamooka township. Andamooka is a small town but still has 2 hotels, a supermarket,...

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