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Newsletter #1 : May 2006

Welcome to Opal Search Australia's first monthly newsletter. The Opalstop newsletter is only sent to registered Opalstop customers who have elected to receive it. To remove your email address from our mailing list, please see the removal instructions at the bottom of the page.

At the end of every month during our mining season, which is from April through to October, we will send you a rundown of our activities on the mining fields of Lightning Ridge Australia. This is to give you, our customer an insight into the lives of opal miners and the workings of our mines.

Readers will be able to follow the progress of the mine, any finds of opal, and eventually see those opals reach our website and go on sale as loose opal or even find their way into a piece of our fine jewellery. We hope you find these newsletters interesting.

Now that the brutal heat of the outback is finally disappearing for another year the time has arrived to kick start the mines again. It is April in Australia and we are in the middle of Autumn. The temperatures of 40-45C have gone and been replaced by 25C and beautiful blue skies. To be in the outback at this time of year is magnificent. The sky is so blue and wide and not a sign of a tall building, you really do get the feeling that there is a massive glass bowl covering the earth. The mornings are crisp, which is great for a quick wake up call for there is no central heating and once awake it's straight out of the swag (bush bed) to light the fire for breakfast. This is one of the finest parts of the day, watching the sun come up with a cup of coffee around the fire. As the sun comes up the earth warms to a comfortable temperature and daylight spells the beginning of the working day.

We started the mining year by going back. Going back to mines that haven't had a miner in them for 40 and in some cases up to 60 years. The last time men dug for opal in these mines they used candles for light. The area is known as "The 3 mile flats". Over the years there has been much good opal retrieved from this area and we are in "nobby" country. A term used to describe in what formation of opal dirt precious opal is found. Nobbies as they are known are renowned for containing the most precious of opal.

Yes, these mines have seen much activity in the past and a lot of opal was found here but we are taking a calculated gamble that it is worth still more exploration.

There are many reasons why we should do this. The old miners of days gone by had very little light and equipment, meaning it could have been quite possible for them to easily miss many gems that may still lie within. The mines could have been abandoned prematurely for whatever reason. The war could have had a hand in this as the men were required to enlist and abandon their dreams of fortune on the fields, and upon their return their priorities may have changed leaving these mines dormant.

We believe that there could still be much quality opal to be found in these old mines, so we'll give them "a go" for a few months and if in the end there has been no success then at least when we drive past them in the future we won't be wondering "What if..?"

It's hard going in these old mines and there is always the risk of cave ins, even though we "sure up" (prop the walls to reduce the risk of cave ins) as we go. Therefore it is unwise to use any mechanical diggers so we proceed with caution using only small jack hammers and picks and shovels.

The nobbies that we have retrieved over the month are very hard and take a long time to wash down in our puddler (please refer to the opalstop picture gallery). This is very time consuming, so not many loads of opal dirt were retrieved over the month. The good news is that we have unearthed some very good trace and colour (signs of quality opal) that we found in "pea nobbies" (small nobbies) so our confidence will be running high when we return from a couple of days break at the end of April. So all is looking good and we are confident that we can report on some pretty exciting news at the end of May.

On the Opalstop website:
If you haven't visited for a while, you'll notice that the website has undergone a complete redesign. The new site includes lots of information about the different types of opal, the mining process and our history. There are some great photos from the mines, and all the items for sale are now professionally photographed to give you a much better "feel" of what you are buying.
Please take time to look over our specials page for the month of may as we feel there are some great bargains to be had. Don't forget that the specials will only be available for one month only.

In the coming months we look forward to bringing to the website a new category for "new items" and special offers and discounts for our members. Also, don't forget that our free gift offer still applies to any purchase whatsoever. These gifts are very popular and a great bonus on top of a great deal from opalstop.com.

Footnote:
Unfortunately during the month of April, the old pub "The Diggers Rest" burned to the ground. One of the main old "watering holes" in Lightning Ridge - you can only imagine the stories, true or false, that were told inside those old walls. And no doubt some of the finest opals in the world would have been produced from miners pockets on a hot afternoon during a drinking session at the old pub. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

That's all for now - thanks for reading,

Darryl and the team at the Opalstop

The Opalstop newsletter is only sent to registered Opalstop customers who have elected to receive it. You can register for the newsletter by completing the registration form, (no purchase necessary).