Where are our opal mines?
We are very proud to own and operate three boulder opal mines in western Queensland, Australia. All three of our opal mines are in very isolated and remote locations in the Australian outback.
Our first opal mine is our YARAKA opal mine, named after the closest town to the mine. The town of Yaraka has a population of approximately 10 people and is located 220 kilometres (140 miles) south of Longreach, 165 kilometres (103 miles) west of Blackall and 62 kilometres (62 miles) south of Isisford.
Our Yaraka opal mine is set in a breathtaking landscape, worn by time. This arid landscape is dominated by mulga trees interspersed with grasslands and eucalypt-acacia woodlands, craggy escarpments and deep gullies. Ultimately, it is a land that was shaped by, then starved of, water.1
From Yaraka, it is a 370 kilometre (230 miles) drive south our to two other opal mines, MOUNT MARGARET and the RUSSELL’S. The town of Eromanga (population 45) is the closest town to us here and is 106 kilometres (62 miles) west of Quilpie.
Mt Margaret and the Russell’s opal mines are only about 60 kilometres (37 miles) from each other and are both located on Mount Margaret sheep and cattle station, which covers approximately 470, 500 hectares or 1.16 million acres. The country is a beautiful balance between ancient flood plains within the outback arid landscape of grassland and gibber plains, gidgee and sunset orange escarpments.
- Central West Queensland National Parks. State of Queensland 2019. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Environment and Science. BP1572 April 2019. https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/parks/pdf/central-west-vg.pdf 30 March 2020.
Our wood replacement and crystal opals are a special type of Australian opal that form in sandstone. They are found together with boulder opals at our Russells opal mine in Western Queensland, Australia. See below for the specifics of their formation.
Opal Fossils with Unpreserved Internal Details
Opal formation commences when silica dissolves in water. At our Russells opal mine we have found that this silica solution occupies a void most probably left by decaying tree roots or branches. When it solidifies it creates an opalized replica of the original object. These are also known as 'jelly mould' fossils.
In some rare cases we have found large and rare opal fossil specimens with beautifully preserved external features and pure crystal opal ‘branches' or 'roots’ within.
The smaller and more fragmented pieces yield thick "crystal opal" that we carve into transparent and translucent opal gemstones.
Opal Fossils with Preserved Internal Details
Opal formation commences when silica dissolves in water. At
our Russells opal mine we have found that this silica solution occupies a void most probably left by decaying tree roots or branches.
In cases where the silica infiltrates organic material before complete decomposition occurs, the organic molecules are replaced by silica. This remarkable process results in the meticulous preservation of
intricate internal structures. Consequently, the wood structure remains visible within the opal.
Our “wood replacement” opal is truly exquisite, not only because it is an opalised fossil, but because the remaining internal structures create a mesmerizing inner world that is visible through the transparent and translucent opal.