Blog Archives

This section is devoted to true stories and snippets of life on the opal fields. At the time they were just day to day normality. Later, in hindsight, they were special in some way. There are so many of these opal mining stories that one day Peter plans to put them into a book.

Weasel’s Claim

A particular obnoxious miner from Mintabie Opal fields was always after our claims. Andrew went to considerable lengths in attempts to get ground near us. We had three claims, in a prime part of the opal fields, near the Mintabie township water tank located on the escarpment within the opal fields proper

His first attempt was to take me to the warden’s court in an attempt to gain my claim on the grounds of not fulfilling the labor conditions.

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Natural Justice

The Warden’s court is part of the judicial system. It hears disputes on mining matters and the decision of the court is final.

At Mintabie Opal Fields the opal claims had certain working conditions that had to be adhered to. If any of the conditions were breached, you were in danger of loosing the claim by having it revoked by the Warden’s Court.

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The Water Tank Claims

For many years we had 3 claims about 100 meters from the water storage tank for Mintabie. We found many pockets of opal and some of the stories in this series are about these or incidents related to them. This article is about a few incidental moments that happened and the method we used for removing the dirt from these claims.

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The Pocket That Wasn’t

Sometimes when you are mining, a little bit of trace or a change in ground gets you so excited you become convinced you will soon be on to a big pocket. Something about the indication is so strong you are almost prepared to bet that opal is not far away.

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The Missing Ratter Claim

We were working a claim at the back of Mintabie Opal Fields. It was in an isolated area and had no adjoining operating claims. It was a part of the opal field that had not been prospected much and we were looking for a new area to mine. The claim had a few shafts on it and had been abandoned a few years previously with only a little work done.

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The First Grasshopper Pocket

Grasshopper is a sub field on the extremities of Mintabie Opal Field. It produced vast quantities of opal in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. There are some incredible tales to be told about these finds and a couple of the best of these I will write about in the future.

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Ripe Red Tomatoes

For several years of my mining at Mintabie Opal fields I had a Korean mining partner.
He joined Robert and I when we decided to go opal mining on a full time basis. Kim was regarded as one of the best underground opal miners at Mintabie. Several years older then us he was still very fit and well able to work the long arduous hours that Robert and I were accustomed to.

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Opal Buyers

Opal buyers came in all shapes, sizes and characters. At the peak of Mintabie’s glory days there was not a day go past without a stream of buyers calling in to our camp. These buyers were of all nationalities.

Some were called “Peanut buyers”. This name referred to a buyer with limited capital.

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Opal and the Metaphysical

During my time at Mintabie Opal Fields crystal healing and crystal metaphysical work was just beginning to become popular. This is a true story of an incident we experienced and the aftermath of it.

We were having one of our opal claims cut by a giant D9 bulldozer.

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My First Opal Pocket

This article was originally published in October 1982 in Issue number 73 of the Australian publication ‘Gem & Treasure Hunter. I have done some slight alterations for this web page.

I dug my first opal out of the ground at Grawin in northern New South Wales. It was an opalised shell with magnificent color.

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