How I got interested in opal mining 1

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I was young and I thought I was strong in the early part of the 60s, I had a job on Nockatunga Station as a mechanic but did all sorts of jobs.

I had read a bit about opals and I thought I would one day have my own mine. Now Nockatunga was around 3500 square miles so there was a lot of places for it to hide.

One day I was out at a tank pumping water to fill the turkeys nest and I had a few hours to wait. I see a line of interesting hills in the distance so off I went.

Now my old Mum always said that I would only find opal if it had a chain on it and I walked over it. Anyway that’s what happened, I was walking up a creek scratching about and there was a chip of opal lying there waiting for me to pick it up.

It wasn’t very big about the size of my small finger nail. I thought “well there is more there somewhere”. It was a nice white stone with green flecks from memory, looked good to me.

I took it home that night and offered to share it with Mum. I put it on a stone and hit it with a hammer. I didn’t read the bit about you can’t hit opal. I ended up with a small amount of powder, bloody idiot.

So the first chance I got Mum and I went back to the spot armed with a crowbar I could hardly lift. It was 40 degrees and no shade so Ed starts to dig.

About half an hour and I had a hole about one foot square and about 3 inches deep.

I threw the crowbar in the back of the van and said to Mum “if there is opal down there it can bloody well stay there”.

My first lesson.

I settled down to raise my family and get out of debt and then years later I had another poke about in the hills. I really didn’t worry about the opals I just wanted to be out in the west as the dry air suited my lungs.

I finished up poking around Yaraka, Jundah, Vergemont, and west of Longreach and soon realised that everyone was using 30 tonne excavators. So much for my little crowbar.

I have a few funny coloured stones to line the garden edge with!

Tell us: have you ever done opal mining?

Eddie Randle



  1. Opals are an exquisite stone which I must get for myself before Opal mining stops. I read in the papers that Opal mining was to stopped because like everything else it has been mined and mined so there is very little left in the earth. The stone is associated with Australia. My Cousin who collects precious stones must be given an Opal. I prefer coloured stones to Diamonds and they say Diamonds are a girls best friend? Rubbish!!!

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