THURSDAY 16 MAY DUCK CREEK
Again, we spent the morning at Mike’s claim, with John helping him in the same way as yesterday. I was not sure that this was quite what John had in mind as opal mining! But I think he is hoping that if he racks up some brownie points in this way, Mike will point him to somewhere he can mine himself. But – going down the bottom of a shaft to do so is also not quite what he had in mind!
Lazed around the van for much of the afternoon, enjoying being out in the bush.
Already we have a very friendly grey shrike thrush that visits us frequently and sits on the guy ropes, top of the camp stove and on the outside table.
Later in the afternoon, we went for a walk, out of Mike’s place and along the road track for a way.
Another camper – Bl – came in and stayed the night. He had been prospecting in these parts before, and knew Mike.
The sunsets here were brilliant!
The discovery of opal and mining of the Duck Creek and Sheep Station areas was part of a wave of such opal finds – mostly of boulder opal – from the 1870’s. It is now known that opal occurs in a wide band of sedimentary rocks, stretching from down near Hungerford, on the NSW border, NW to Kynuna. The period from the 1870’s to the 1890’s saw a number of mining clusters along this formation – from here, through Quilpie, Eromanga, Opalton. Duck Creek mining started in 1891 – some of the opal found here was in seams and thus really prized. Opal mining in Australia mostly ended about the beginning of WW1 as European demand decreased and many miners went off to war. The revival of interest in opals and opal mining, since about the 1960’s, has led to renewed activity around some of the old fields, like Opalton, and the declaration of specified fossicking areas for small scale mining and tourists.
1997 saw Duck Creek and Sheep Station Creek declared Designated Fossicking Land.