The Queensland opal fields are vast and cover thousands of kilometers from the West to the South West of the state. If you look at the map above, you can see where the fields are spread across a 1000km stretch of area between Winton and Yowah. This area is known as the Winton Formation and is made up of weathered sedimentary rock from the Cretaceous period.
The Queensland opal fields are considered to be the most remote and difficult to work in mines. The area is dry, hot and covered in red dirt which gets into everything. Lucky for us these Queensland opal fields are producing some of the most beautiful boulder opal we have ever seen.
Queensland opal is increasing in popularity with it’s unique colors and patterns. The Yowah opal has become very popular, particularly in the USA where designers have been using unique Queensland opal to create amazing pieces of jewelry.
Some of the famous Queensland opal fields are:
Koroit is situated on the Humeburn road 100 kilometres north-west of Cunnamulla. Opal was first discovered there in 1897 by Lawrence Rostron, the manager of Tilboroo station, Eulo. The Koroit field has been relatively quiet in comparison to other Queensland opal fields. In 1972, a small number of men moved onto the field, among them Mike Bennent who was still there in 1997. Like most Queensland opal fields mining is carried out above ground using excavators and bulldozers.
The earliest records on mining in Yowah date back to the 1880s for this remarkable little field. It is one of the oldest producing opal fields in Australia with the original mining leases and claim still worked over today. Like most Queensland opal fields it is a difficult environment compounded by the fact that permanent water is scarce. In the past miners could work the fields only after it rained, luckily today miners use artesian bores (underground water well) as a supply.
Yowah is most famous for the Yowah Nut and Queensland boulder opal. These “Yowah nuts” are ironstone rocks resembling nuts which when opened up have precious opal in the center. These nuts are quite small ranging from 5mm to 200mm. This is fast becoming one of the most popular types of Queensland opal available on the market today. The mines are very popular with fossickers as the mine is easily accessed from the main road.
The Jundah mines are unique in that they produce not just one but nearly all the types of different opals found in Australia including black, crystal and boulder opals. There are basically only two main fields. The Old Field, known as the Top Flat and the famous Black Mine which joined it half a kilometer to the east. Opal from these two areas was of the highest quality.
The Black Mine of Jundah was Australia’s first black opal mine, mined 10 years before black opal was discovered in Lightning Ridge.
Winton is one of the oldest and most well known Queensland opal fields. It has a depp history reaching back to 1885 when Banjo Paterson wrote Waltzing Matilda at one of the stations outside of Winton.
Today it is a beautiful town with a real buzz about opals. Most tours from this area will take you out to opalton, once of the other Queensland opal fields that was established at the same time as Winton. Winton boulder opal is some of the brightest and most beautiful gem quality boulder opal available on the market. It is extremely stable and the hard sand stone makes it perfect for use in everyday jewelry.
Interesting to read about old opal mines in Queensland that still might have some opal if you want to do fossicking.
Volcanic opals in Queensland were found in Springsure in 1872 and known as Mountain opal.
A Mountain opal sold in London in 1896 for 150 English Pounds.
Opals were also sold in London from this mine in 1879 and 1886
The Lease to crown was 18 pounds per year, but the opals were not very stable and hard to find in the rock cavities
At the time this deposit was compared to the Hungarian and Mexican mines, as no one had seen volcanic opal from Australia in those early days.
The Queensland government report also mention opals found Honduras were similar and one small deposit in Rocky bridge Creek in new south wales was also volcanic
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