Tales from the opal fields
The opal fields are full of many different characters. They have been attracted to opal mining for many different reasons not just the lure of opal. One of the attractions is the ability to live a life free of most of the restrictions modern life imposes on us. They are not hindered by the plethora of local laws we all endure and can almost live as they like.
There are of course some requirements such as not cheating on your fellow miners. Unfortunately there are still some who don't follow these rules and the miners have ways of dealing with these people without involving the law.
I was talking to Steve, an opal miner the other day and he related to me the following anecdote:
There were a group of miners who regularly sat around at night , after a hard days mining, having a drink or two and playing cards.
They befriended a young bloke who joined in the evening activities and they all seemed to be enjoying each others company. After a while though, they realised that some of their equipment was disappearing. They were flummoxed for a while but then started to suspect the new arrival, as they all trusted each other.
A group of them decided to visit the young blokes camp while he was away , and sure enough, they discovered their missing equipment under a tarpaulin. It was no good involving the police so they devised their own revenge,
The next night , at the card game, They tackled the young bloke and trussed him up. Prior to this they had wrapped a piece of dowel up in the wrapping from a stick of gelignite and attached a wick to it. It looked like the real thing. They then stuffed the fake gelignite in his mouth and lit the fuse.
They sat round laughing their heads off watching the terror in his eyes as the fuse burned. Needless to say he lost control of most of his bodily functions in his panic
After they released him, he was told in no uncertain manner he was not welcome in the opal field and he soon fled. Justice was served.
There must be many other stories out the where the miners take action to resolve issues with ratters. (Ratters are unscrupulous miners who enter other miners mines and clean out pockets of opal at night)
Steve also told me of an incident where a ratter was held over a mine shaft by the ankles while he pleaded with them not to let him go.
He too fled the fields when released.
Thanks Steve for the stories.