Opal Mines and Miners: Opal miners, are a bunch of unique characters. Most lived spartan, solitary lives in simple, makeshift homes erected near their claims.
Opals mines and miners have been a feature of some parts of the Australian outback for well over one hundred years and yet some folks have never heard of them. (interview with a modern day miner above)
Early miners had to be self sufficient and adaptive. Often spending months at a time working their claims, they caught or cultivated their own food and took care of any medical emergencies or illnesses they suffered.
Many worked their claims for decades, with little to show for their efforts aside from the scars they inflicted on their bodies while digging.
Distrustful of anyone who might jump their claim, these miners were a secretive lot who might boast that they’d found a spectacular vein of opal, but who never offered details of its location. Often, these miners hoarded the stones they found, only bringing a few to market when they needed cash for food or supplies.
When an old timer died, it could be months before anyone discovered his body and buried it. And, the secrets are known by that miner–such as where he’d found a rich vein of opal or where he’d stashed the opal he’d found–often died with him. the opals mines and miners in these areas are a testimony to endurance.
Opal Mines and Miners-The Koroit Opal fields
Koroit produces a very hard highly polished Queensland Matrix opal. The trend is for people to want to wear something totally unique that is natural which fits the type of opal coming from this and other closely related fields.
Opal Mines and Miners-The Yowah Opal fields
Unique to the Yowah fields are the Yowah nuts, which are highly sought after by collectors. Some are shown in this gallery.
The Opal fields bring out the artist in people
The mural below was painted by artist and photographer Graham Lees.
By the way, in case you’ve been wondering, the mining community is sufficiently small that most miners go by their first name, or a nickname they’ve picked up along the way. You might know a miner for years before ever learning his surname. It can sure be said that the opals mines and miners in the outback are special gems, places that attract special people. Maybe you will visit one day.