Winton – Northern Capital of Qld Opal Fields

on . Posted in Queensland Opal Mines

The Winton Mining Area encompasses a vast region of intermittent opalisation, famous for patches of brilliant black boulder opal pancakes. Also home to ‘Lark Quarry’ - a fossilised dinosaur stampede, which showcases three different species’ footprints. Luckily discovered by an opal prospector and now preserved as a major tourist attraction.

Active Image Opalton –124 km south of Winton, was discovered in 1887 by George Cragg, a 17 year old stockman on Warrambool Downs. Almost a decade passed before the commencement of mining on this field which proved to contain the highest concentration of opal in Queensland.
Today, a population of less than 20 inhabit what is a designated fossicking reserve, host to the most extensive Opal workings in Queensland, where once a township of nearly 600 people flourished.

The field includes numerous historical mines; Brilliant, Little Wonder, Snake Jump, Conways, Dragon Fly, Kinder, The Great Eastern, Poverty Flat, White Cow, Black Dog, La Marseillaise, McLellans, Bald (Bally) Knob..... 

Active Image The largest piece of gem Opal ever recorded in the world was found in 1899 at Conways in Opalton by Dick Shillington and his mate Greenwood. It was 11ft long, as thick as a man’s thigh and took four men to carry it.

The opal at Conways was found mainly in waves where the level dipped down and came up again.

Working the Gem, an opal cutter at Opalton in 1901 (pictured) has rigged up an old treadle sewing machine. Others used bicycles, designing innovative hand or foot operated cutting and polishing wheels. 

Opalton was first known as the Fermoy Opal fields which were infact established earlier in 1878 northwest of the township.

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The magnificent Black Boulder Opal (pictured) is possesed of an uncanny stripey-pattern, it is multicoloured with a predominance of purple and red. The stone was found in the crust of a football sized boulder at 18ft by Rosie Petrie and Hans Klinger in 1993, it was specked by their dog Fritz in an open-cut at Opalton!

Feelin Lucky Mate? Try your luck 'noodling' in the Opalton fossicking reserve!

Why not stay in your own caravan or tent, for more details contact the QBOA

Mayneside - 'Opal Creek' area just south of Opalton and north of Mayneside Homestead was the greatest producer in the last 20 years, producing gem quality sandstone Boulder Opal with glorious patterns and dark colouring. Mayneside is host to numerous prospects, with the finest ironstone pancakes generally found in smaller concentrations and sporadic pockets;; Carbine, Devil Devil, Echo Mine, Yellow Jimmy, Wild Horse, Mud Mine, Tyson, Quartpot, Breadbox, Mayneside...further south in the Horse Creek - Vergemont area Arch Mine, Canadians, Hopal and more recently Red October and Twin Peaks...

Elvo- Minnirichi mine

OPAL COUNTRY DIRT HIGHWAYJundah - Field (396 S of Winton) includes Jundah, Lina Glen, Opalville and Hayfield mines, and Stonehenge - Evengy Station to the south-west. The area is renowned for red coloured Opal in large sandy boulders and manganese Black Opal pipes.

The Black Mine was Australia’s first Black Opal deposit and is significant as it was discovered 10 years before Lightning Ridge appeared in the annals of history. In 1900 there were several hundred men idle in Jundah during the drought. With no other prospects many went gouging, it is said there were 100 miners working at Opalville & Black Mine at the turn of the twentieth century.

The opal found was mostly nodules and cylindrical pipes in the band at the junction of the sandstone and clay. They ranged in size from that of a small pencil to 2 metres in length and many were more than 10 centimetres in diameter. The larger pipes were generally filled with potch and a hard red brick-like material, occasionally carrying a little colour. They were so numerous the miners nicknamed them 'brick pipes'. It was a rare pipe which was full of colour. Most of the better pipes contained at least 90% potch, the remainder being high-quality Opal in isolated patches throughout the potch.

Kynuna - Northern-most of the Queensland Opal fields (200 NW of Winton), the main field was discovered in 1894 and lies 40 km south of Kynuna township off the Landsborough Highway.

This vast area of potential Opalisation has been worked very little and is perhaps the deepest Opal profile in Queensland. The opal country is dominated by sandstone mesas in areas which are highly elevated (320m ASL) suggesting up to 35m to the bottom level. The prospective areas thereabouts are west of the main Kynuna field and south toward Dagworth Station.

Middleton - Numerous Mines surround the Middleton Pub (169 km W of Winton) on Woodstock, Chiltern Hills, Brighton and Franklin Stations. Coathworth Mine

Davenport Palpara (Kurran) - Field 150km NW of Jundah; Doreen's Glory, Anzac Hill, Jerry's Mine, Sandy, Blue Show, Boundar, Chinaman's.

Mt. Windsor and Tonkoro Stations are home to small scattered shows.


Sue-White opals29 June 2013
Dear Rainbow Serpent,
Thank you for your email and membership.
It is great to know that you are out there promoting Australia's National gemstone & NSW emblem.
Keep up the good work, I love your concept.
Sue White - Orana Glitz & Glamour Extravaganza Inc Assn.

15 march 2013
Hi Peter,
Colourful characters are key,
your Facebook page and the photos look like there are some fantastic people!
We loved the look of Tarzan of Opalton.
Gemma Brady - Boundless

Alexander fink.PhysicsPHD opal28 Nov 2012
I would like to welcome your information page on opal,
with detailed information about nearly everything their is to know in a general term.
Alexander Fink PhD - Dept. of Physics La Trobe University

5 August 2010
Hi from another opal lover.
Just wanted to say I love your site, a wealth of information.
I always send people to your page for opal info.
Kind Regards
Sean Tapner - Planet Opal

8 july 2010
Dear Rainbow Serpent,
Will be recommending your website as a primary reference to 15 Macquarie Uni media students who will be doing a PR project for us as part of their assessment soon.
Best wishes
Renata - Opalminded

Opalminded recommend opalsinformation6 June 2010
Dear Rainbow Serpent, 
Greetings from Opal Minded In Sydney.
We are all very impressed with your website – one of the best things that has happened to this Industry for a long time. 
We would love to share it with the visitors to our website. 
Would you mind If we post with us links to your website, 
also on our facebook and twitter. 
Best wishes
Renata, John, Nelly, Fabrice and Summer

Fri, Apr 16, 2010 
Good Morning,
I have just found your wonderful website.
I produce a monthly e-newsletter which is circulated to the Tourism businesses in Coober Pedy and neighbouring stations plus the Info Centres around SA & the NT.
I wondered if I could use some of your Opal info in my October Edition (Opal Month), mainly the parts in your “About Opal” section – names, spiritual info etc.
I would obviously reference it to your website noting the address so others could read your site. 
Sandra Harris
Tourism Officer - Coober Pedy Information Centre

5 April 2010
I am wanting to use your site in an assignment as it is a superb example
of a site to use for a primary teaching unit on gemstones.
Many thanks,