Opal Fields History

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

Who did discover the Coober Pedy Opal Field

15 February 2020 by Johno

I guess there will always be disputes about who first discovered a lot of things and that apparently is what happened with the Coober Pedy Opal Field discovery.In looking through old newspaper stories on "Trove" I came upon this story written in the Argus of 9th July 1932. Hope...

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Queensland Opal Fields in 1901

9 January 2020 by Johno

The following is a summary of an article in the the newspaper "The Worker" of 1901 relating to the state of the opal industry in that year. The Opal Industry In 1901,an employee of "The Worker" newspaper carried out an interview with a Mr K L Lindsay of...

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Duck Creek Opal Field Queensland - 1903

9 January 2020 by Johno

The following article on the Duck Creek Opal Field was published in "The Register" newspaper on Wednesday 24th June 1903. It is reproduced here to let you know what it was really like mining at Duck Creek in 1903. Duck Creek 1903 " The Duck Creek Opal Field...

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More about White Cliffs Opal Field in 1894

2 January 2020 by Johno

This is the second article about White Cliffs Opal Field taken from an article in the Sydney Morning Herald in April 1894. It was written by " The Tourist" and details what they observed on their trip to White Cliffs. The second part of the article states a lot...

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Opal Robbery at White Cliffs Opal Field in 1896

2 January 2020 by Johno

The following story was published in the Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser of June 13, 1896 Extensive Opal Robbery "An opal robbery of a sensational character has been reported here by the Wilcannia visitors to the White Cliffs Races, who returned from the township on Saturday...

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A Visit to White Cliffs Opal Mines in 1894

28 December 2019 by Johno

In looking through some old papers I came across the following article written in the Sydney Mail in 1894. It is an article describing a tourists visit to the White Cliffs Opal Field in that year. I hope you find it of interest. The article was researched by Rusheen...

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History and Distribution of opal deposits in Queensland -1902

30 July 2019 by Johno

In 1966, my cousin Ken and I, set off on our first opal fossicking trip to Queensland This story is detailed in the post titled My First Trip to the Opal Fields. As a result both of us have remained interested in the history of opal discovery and mining in...

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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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Mintabie Opal Town to be Closed Permanently

18 February 2018 by Johno

Mintabie Opal Town, one of South Australia's famous opal towns, is to be permanently closed and its residents forced to leave within a year. The South Australian Government found many of the residents had been living there illegally. The ABC reports that Mintabie Opal Town was an access point for...

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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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Early Days at the Andamooka Opal Field

31 May 2017 by Johno

A Miners Recollection of the early days at Andamooka Opal Field Ross Coghill mined for opal for a short time at Andamooka in 1959 with his father Ben. After a few weeks Ross returned to Sydney, but his father stayed on. Ross has kindly written down his story so...

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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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The Desert Sea Collection of Opals - Stolen

10 November 2015 by Johno

The Desert Sea Collection The Comfort Inn Experience Motel at Coober Pedy is famous for it's owners great collection of opalised sea shells known as" The Desert Sea Collection". In March 2014, Andre was in Coober Pedy and was shown this collection. He also photographed the Desert Sea...

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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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Coober Pedy celebrates 100 years

3 April 2015 by Johno

Cooper Pedy has just celebrated 100 years since it was founded as an opal field. Opal was found at what is now called Coober Pedy by 14 year old Willie Hutchison. He had been out prospecting for gold with his father and two other prospectors in January 2014. His father...

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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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Lightning Ridge - Discovery of Opal

2 January 2014 by Johno

Lightning Ridge is located in New South Wales, north of the township of Walgett and south of the Queensland border. It is renowned as the largest known deposit of black opal in the world. Black opal is found in much smaller amounts at a number of other localities such as...

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Water Supply for the Coober Pedy Opal Field

2 January 2014 by Johno

One of the major impediments to the establishment of any of Australia's opal fields was the lack of available water for the miners and their animals. The opal fields are located in areas which were once a vast inland sea which had later turned into desert. The opal was formed...

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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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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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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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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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Chamberlain 9G Tractor Run at Coober Pedy

24 January 2013 by Johno

Barbara and I love to travel in the outback. We don't go in for the arduous 4 wheel drive trips, crossing sand dunes and putting ourselves at risk, but we do love to head off and see where our travel takes us. In 2004 we set off up the Oodnadatta...

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How Opal was Formed

15 January 2013 by Johno

There are quite a few theories on how opal was formed and I will try and give a summary of the most popular theories in as simple language as I can. I am not a chemist, nor a geologist, so I may get some details wrong but I hope you...

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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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Andamooka Cemeteries - by Brian Tansell, opal miner

10 September 2011 by Johno

In the early 1930's there were a few miners working at Andamooka. One of these miners was an old European who lived in an old dugout away from the main centre. He was regularly seen walking across the hill to collect water from the well in the main centre, but...

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