Continued from page 1
Today, Queensland opal fields cover an area in southwest portion of state, approximately 1000 kilometres long by 300 kilometres wide.
Coober Pedy, South Australia
The Coober Pedy opal fields were discovered in 1915. Producing white or milky opals, until recently, Coober Pedy was main producer of precious opal. Today opal fields encompass an area of approximately 45 kilometres.
The name “Coober Pedy” is derived form Aboriginal word “kupa piti” which loosely translated means “white Man in a Hole.” An isolated and rugged location, Coober Pedy is frequented by freezing cold nights, days where temperature soars above 40° C and is inundated by millions of bush flies. Too hot to live above ground, homes in Coober Pedy are made in underground burrows.
Mintabie, South Australia
The Aboriginals were first to sell black opal from Mintabie at Coober Pedy after WW1 but kept place secret for some time until eager miners discovered opal field in 1930’s. As a result of remoteness of area and lack of water, mining in area was on a small scale.
Mining production greatly increased beginning in 1976 as heavy earth-moving equipment was brought in. The opal, sandwiched between layers of sandstone and rock below ground, are drilled or blasted through with explosives.
The Mintabie area is now producing very attractive, semi-black opal.
Andamooka, South Australia
Discovered in 1930, Andamooka is one of Australia’s most famous fields. Located 600 kilometres north of Adelaide but southwest of Coober Pedy in harsh desert country, Andamooka is derived from an Aboriginal name meaning “Large Waterhole.” It is only town in Australia where streets have no names.
I hope you have enjoyed learning aobut discovery of Opal in Australia.
In part 4 we learn about how opal is mined and cut.
See you then
Best wishes and have a great day.
Stuart Bazga www.kulpunyaopals.com
Kulpunya Opals was established several years ago to provide the UK and Europe with a specialist supply of opals. We import directly from key suppliers in Australia with whom we have developed strong and long-term relationships. This ensures the products are always of the highest quality, and each represent excellent value.