June 30th 2017
|Our rig at Opalton|
A much cooler night and morning. Today we plan to travel to Opalton which is south of Winton. The road was OK despite the gravel surface. As on most days the scenery is varied with Gidgee forests which are quite dense to open woodlands with ghost Gums and spinifex.
DUST is the word of the day…behind the rig as we travel, on the rig, in the rig, on the wind, in my eyes! It takes patience but that is what life must be like out here on a station or fossicking for opals. The country is dry though, despite the massive flooding of the area last year.
We arrived at Opalton shortly after lunch and drove into the Bush Camping area and were welcomed by a very friendly lady who must be the Camp Caretaker. It will cost us $2.50 each to stay for one night. There are toilets provided and hot showers at night when the donkey is fired up. I like to shower in the morning so we will see what happens there! I can understand why miners want to shower at night though from their appearance after a day digging and fossicking.
|Boulder Opal from Opalton|
We have only recently heard of Opalton as a Boulder Opal centre. The area was first settled during the 1890s. It was once a bustling centre with up to 600 miners. Availability of water became a major problem and with the fall in price of opals the field was gradually abandoned. With the upgrade of roads in the area miners were able to return to Opalton in1961.It continues to produce gem quality opals in boulder, pipe and matrix formations.
The settlement is sparce with most people camping here where we are. Visitors camp in the old Opalton dig area during winter and enjoy the isolation, peace and quiet of this frontier type community.
John & I walked through the bush around the large dam which acts as a community water supply. The country is rough with red to white chunky stones and a gidgee bush (acacia) forest. Despite the dryness we have found 3 different types of cassia in bloom. One of these bushes had a Harliquin mistletoe growing in it with destinctive red flowers. I have now seen 3 types of Cassia bushes… their leaves and flowers are similar..’Blunt-leak cassia, Grey cassia and I think Silver cassia. We have seen very few wildflowers but John spotted a small Mulla mulla with pale mauve blooms.
After dinner we walked over to the community fire to join a dozen or fifteen people who were enjoying some Friday evening company.