The license for the Opalton hotel by Mr McIntosh having been lately granted, the hostelry will be opened in a few days and judging from the interior the proprietary are far from novice at the game. The stock of 'snake juice' on hand is of the choicest and best brands and visitors to the opal field may rely on receiving the best accommodation and 'tucker' procurable at this distance from the coast.
1896, 'The Western Champion' March 17.
Owing to wet weather a flour famine was only averted by the arrival of Barry's coach, for some weeks. The coach has on board a few hundred weight of provisions, the flour being sold at the high rate of 9d ( pence) per pound. The price however only ruled for a couple of days when a local hawker brought a few bags from Winton which retailed at 4d per pound.
1896, 'The Western Champion' June 16. The population around Opalton had reached 600 men, a lot if them being shearers and station hands.
Opalton requires a well, as the quickest and cheapest means of obtaining a good wholesome supply of water, and with the amount of labour offering could be done on the most advantageous terms.
Postal affairs require urgent attention as it is beyond reason to think that the present Postmaster will act as such and find his own office for £6 per year. The police are also entitled to much greater powers than they at present possess, as many small cases have to be overlooked.
It will not be very long before the government will be called upon to provide for the eduction of the many children. (note: There was never a school at Opalton)
1896, 'Daily Standard' July 4. Stage coach robbery at Opalton on June 21st. A parcel of 160 pieces of opal, value £45 was stolen. Constable M. Daly found most, or all the opal.
1896, 'The Western Champion' (from 'The Longreach Standard' correspondent) July 21.
The fare on Barry's coach from Longreach via Fermoy station to Opalton was £2. I hear that one or two small 'pots' have been got in the shallow ground near Conway's old store and a rich patch was struck last week in McCormack and party's claim on Poverty Flat.
Mr.Hickie, a Longreach buyer, purchased a considerable quantity of opal, of which there still remains, on the field, a considerable amount.
At a meeting of the local Progress Association held on Sunday, it was resolved to construct an overshot dam at the top camp, known as Clancys, by volunteer labour. (Also discussed) The proclamation of the field. A mail run via Winton and a provisional school.
1896, 'Daily Standard' August 25. Messrs Spike and Clancy of the local Progress Association canvassed the town for money to sink a well.
1896, 'The Western Champion' August 25. A few of our local miners have lately left to give the Mayne and Horse creek a trial and I hear one or two prospecting parties start out shortly. A lad named James Wilkins in the employ of Mr.J.Conway of Fermoy had his leg badly broken through a horse falling with him.
Hawkers selling various merchandise visited Fermoy (Opalton) field and there were two butchers shops (a bench under a bough shed) in the peak years.
Condys Crystals in hot water was used to bath cuts and infections.
1896, 'The Western Champion' September 15. A cricket match at Opalton. Opalton North versus Opalton South. A very exciting cricket match was played on Sturday which resulted in a win for the south by 15 runs.
1896, 'The Daily Standard' September 15. The well at 100 feet (30 metres) has turned out to be a duffer (no water).
1896, 'The Western Champion' November 24. Water has to be carted from Blue Bush creek, the miners in twos taking it in turns with a team. A few hundred gallon (1800 Litre) tank thus coming daily to the field. The hole from which the water is obtained will not last long. In view of the giving out of the water at Blue Bush, it was decided at a public meeting held at Bookers Hotel that a track to No Name creek, distant about 12 miles (18 Kilometres) be blazed. Our Post office is now run by Mr James Sinclair, storekeeper with his assistant Mr.Ralph Hill. A new mailman (Mac) is a decided improvement as he is up to time regurlarly.
1896, November. Charles Henry Paine had a mail contract (for 2 years hence) once a week by horse from Winton to Bladensburg, Warrnambool, Happy Valley, Opalton, Fermoy and to Highfields.
1896, December 12. Proclamation and gazetting of the Mining District of Opalton, area: 14270 Sq.Miles (Approx 36,956 Sq.Kms).
1896, 'The Western Champion' December 26. A combined wind and thunderstorm swept across Opalton between 3 and 4 o'clock giving dwellers in tents a merry half hour. The day had been very hot previous to the storm, an unusual number of whirly winds being noticeable, one of which razed to the ground an edifice belonging to Mr. Sinclair, a storekeeper. The storm blew down the tents of Messrs, Spike, O'Neil, McCaffrey, Webster and others. Some of the tents were blown to shreds and contents strewn about for a quarter of a mile around. Some miners pooled their money and resources and worked togeher as a party.
1897, 'The Daily Standard' January 6. Sid Jones met with a nasty accident when a rope broke and a bucket of mullock went hurling down the shaft. Being partly in a drive at the time, he received only a nasty scalp wound.
1897, 'The Western Champion' February 2. Push bikes were in use at Opalton and George Cragg found the Minnierichie opal show. Severe drought, late 1890's and early 1900's. At the Bold Knob I hear some good opal has been obtained by one party. Mr.Hobbs arrived last week, from the 'Reach, on a bike and on Saturday last a few of our cyclists gave the girls a treat in the way of cycle riding. Both mails were delayed this week on account of the flooded creeks.
Also 1897. Fred Holm aged 91 in 1971, said that the opal show at the Yellow Jimmy mine was found in 1897 by two stockmen. It produced top gem grade opal and Fred saw some of the opal at a later date, describing it as "the tops, oh yes, very much".
Coaches left Longreach for Maneroo, Eversham, Corona, Silsoe, Vergemont, Opalton and to Rosebrook.
1897, 'The Western Champion' February 9. Mr Yates has struck a nice 'pot'. I hear the pipe opal continued some distance and that about £300 worth had been taken out. In the list of J.P.'s lately published I notice the name of Murdo Cameron of Opalton. Two Indian Hawkers left here on Sunday morning at 4 am to look for horses and as they had not returned by Tuesday morning, on that day Constables Daly and Castledine accompanied by a tracker named Tommy went in search of them.
1897, 'The Western Champion' March 30. I hear that Messrs Conway, Inman and Farley have left to prospect some country in the Mayne (river) district.
News was received in town on Tuesday that a prospector had discovered human remains, in the Horse creek country, which are supposed to be those of the missing man Frailly. Constable Daly and a tracker left to investigate the matter and bury the remains.
1898,'The Longreach Standard' April 30. On February 15th Constable M.J.Daly arrested 2 men for breaking into and stealing from a warehouse known as Conways store.
1898, 'The Western Champion' October 11. In regards to finds Messrs Eckel and party have obtained during the past month, upwards of £600 worth of brilliant opals. Messrs Collins and party have also obtained a parcel which they value at six hundred pounds. Both of these finds have been obtained from new ground at a depth of thirty feet, joining what is known at Conway's old workings.
1899, 'The Gregory News' January 3. Sunday last week, two men at Opalton started off for water,12 miles (18kms) distant when they missed their way. They struck the mailman's pad and the one who reached Opalton sent help to his mate 10 miles away.
1899, January 21. One of the biggest, or maybe the biggest ironstone pipe of opal ever discovered was at Conways diggings and was 11 feet (3.35metres) long with an average thickness of a man's thigh. It took 4 men to carry the, broken up, main sections back to the Police station at Opalton. R.Shillington, G.H. Greenwood, E.T.Creed and a man named Jones were the miners involved.
1899, 'The Gregory News' April 18. 'Poison in a mailbag' the postman found a packet of arsenic which had broken open in transit. It was addressed to a Rabbiter in the district.
1899. Warden A.H.Zillman's report states Opalton was in decline but some rich opal was still being won. An average of 80 men at Opalton and adjacent camps.
1899, 'The Gregory News' May 2. Mr.J.Booker an opal buyer from Longreach secured £600 worth of opal from several owners.
1900, 'The Gregory News' February 12. Mr.A.Lewis who is running a coach out Opalton way, reports that Mr.J.Cameron J.P. died at Opalton.
1900, 'The Gregory News' August 13. Good find of opal reported at Horse creek about 25 miles (approx. 36 kms) from Opalton.
1901. Only a small amount of activity on the main field at Opalton itself. The Police station closed on September 14, 1901.
1901, 'The Gregory News' December 23. Mr.C.F.V.Jackson, assistant government geologist was in Winton last week with the intention of visiting the fields in the district.
1902, September 20. Constable J.Smith D15 reports he left Longreach in company with Corporal Wick on patrol in the Opalton district after cattle stealers.
1902, 'The Gregory News' September 29. Mr.J.Lancashire from Winton, the Opalton mailman had his horse drop dead at Batavia station, another horse he got knocked up after 3 miles. He walked with the mail on his back towards the next stage, had gone 10 miles when picked up by Mr.Curtis in the Sunny Hills station buggy. (There was a severe drought in 1902).
1903, 'The Gregory News' June 1. George Cragg, pioneer at Opalton, fossicking for opal between Cork station and Connemara station come across stones arranged to form figures, 1897. Some distance further, a post sunk in the ground and log pointing to a tree, in the fork of which was a large stone. Some miles further on again was a blazed tree with the word. LOST.
The Reverend Fred E.B.Hulton-Sams, known as 'The Fighting Parson' came to the Saint Andrews Bush Brotherhood in Longreach and left in 1914. He collected opal, was a great sportsman and was extremely proud of his Winton boys for their boxing ability. When he was a young fellow, Fred Cragg remembers seeing the Fighting Parson at Mayneside. Rev. Hulton-Sams enlisted in the English army and was killed at Hooge in Flanders on July 21,1915. His fiancé Alice, had a piece of Jundah opal cut into 5 oval shaped opals which were set around the base of a silver chalice. She presented it to Saint Andrews Church of England in Longreach Queensland where it is still used to this day.
About 1909. George Cragg's son, Fred said his dad worked a claim at Conways mine about 1909. After he sold the Opalton hotel in February 1907, George and his wife Christina lived in the old Police barracks on and off for 5 years, while opal mining. One patch of opal the Craggs dug out of the Havelock mine (beside the Opalton to Mayneside road) in a few hours was sold to a buyer, the 'Black Doctor' for £800.
1912 George Cragg and family shifted camp from Opalton to the boundary riders hut at the Wilderness gate. George checked the rabbit netting fence from there to Mayneside station, a distance of 30 miles mainly on a bicycle.
By 1912 a store had been established at the old Rosebrook station site beside the Mayneside waterhole. This was the site for the later Mayneside homestead.
By 1914 the town of Opalton ceased to exist, having been in decline for years and a lot of miners went to the first World War 1914-18, never to return to the opal fields.
1914-1918, World War I. There was very little interest in opal mining until a small revival in the 1930's and after that, mining was more or less forgotten about with only the odd prospector poking around the opal fields.
1927. The Craggs moved to Mayneside Boundary Riders hut on January 23, 1927. George's wage was £12 a month. Fred Cragg left home in 1927 and went to work on Warbreccan station trapping dingoes and roo shooting for skins. He became known as 'The Old Dogger'. He was an expert bushman and passed away on April 14, 1996.
1930's 'Floods in Queensland' by Banjo Paterson. It is thought to be sometime in the 1930's Banjo Paterson travelled from Winton to Rockhampton with an opal buyer who lost his bag, containing opal, overboard down near Rockhampton. It was retrieved by a man named Bill who received £2 for his effort. (There was a small amount of mining around Opalton at the time.)