Opal MInes

Jan 27th, 2004, 06:11 AM
  #1  
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Opal MInes

Was wondering if you are able to visit the opal mines. And if so which ones and where are they located. We are planning on being in Australia in November,2004. Staying along the east coast, Sydney, GBR, Blue Mountain region. Any help would be wonderful.
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Jan 27th, 2004, 06:28 AM
  #2  
ALF
 
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Most of Australia's opal mines are located around Coober Pedy. The 'mines' however, are of two varieties - small vertical boreholes that descend to the opal-bearing layers, followed by small horizontal borings. These are generally tight, uncomfortable, and potentially dangerous locations, so you would not want to visit such a mine. Even if you did, there would not be much to see. The other type of mine is more of an open-pit operation, where a bulldozer scrapes down to the opal-bearing layer, then the opals are manually pulled from the ground. The bulldozer then moves on to push the tailings back in, then move on to the next location.

Most Coober Pedy opal mines are small-time, privately-owned operations, i.e. there are no big mining companies giving tours of their mines. A few mines are big enough to visit, such as the Old Timer's Mine (http://www.oldtimersmine.com/index2.html), which is now a sort of museum. Several companies run Coober Pedy tours, which include visits to mines, as well as underground dwellings, churches, and other sites of interest. We really liked Radeka's Desert Breakaway tour (http://www.radekadownunder.com.au/de...s/page0003.htm).

If you are going to be only on the east coast, then you should visit Quilpie or Winton, in Queensland, for 'boulder' opal; or Lightning Ridge, in New South Wales, for black opal.
ALF is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 07:58 AM
  #3  
 
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G'day,
Alf already told you about Coober Pedy.
There is also Andamooka with both open cut and deep mines ( to about 45 feet I think ), and further north there is Mintabie.
Andamooka is a good alternative to over commercialised Coober Pedy.
I regularely visit both with my tours for rock hounds.
Should you happen to visit Coober Pedy say Hi to Yvelin at Radeka's for me. She's a remarkable lady.
If you want more info you can contact me direct.
Cheers,
Mike
OzMike is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 10:19 AM
  #4  
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Thank you both for the information it is very helpful.
obrien641 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 04:56 PM
  #5  
 
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Another opal mining town is white cliffs in western NSW near Broken Hill.

It is possible to put together a comprehensive short "outback experience" including white cliffs in a few days ex Broken Hill..
Broken Hill
Silverton
Mootwinjee
White Cliffs
Darling River Sheep Station
Bourke

No big red rocks but imho a more comrehensive and realistic trip than the tourist trail at ayers rock.
johhj_au is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 08:11 PM
  #6  
 
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Hi! I am an opal dealer based in Melbourne, and my family has been in the industry for over 40 years. I have been to all of the opal fields, and the best one to visit from your holiday destination would be Lightning Ridge, but be prepared for a LONG drive from Sydney (about 5-6 hours). There are most likely buses that leave from Sydney, but once again you'll be in for a lengthy journey. I'm not sure that it's worth it if you are only visiting for a short time. Coober Pedy is in South Australia, so you'd be better off flying to Adelaide and driving there, but once again a LONG drive (11 hours).

In terms of "buying cheaper on the fields", this is not always true. Remember, these opal fields are also tourist towns, and every second store is a retail opal store! We have a store in Coober Pedy, and our prices are no different there to our prices in our city outlets. If you buy an opal, make sure you get an international guarantee.
If you do end up going I can give you the names of a few genuine miners to look up!

I hope this helps!!

buchu is offline  
May 2nd, 2004, 06:49 PM
  #7  
 
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Buchu - I will be in Melbourne in Sept. Do you have a place that sells the black opal or know of any I should check out? Regards - Brazoo
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