Most of the underground campers left early this morning and I was able to take a good look inside their “dugout”. There were small alcoves, a big area and some individual motel type rooms.
We went on a tour through the old mine which is on the Camping Ground site. Initially our “guide” was the 4 year old daughter of the owners, she made sure we all had hard hats on, an insurance imperative. We were then told by her father about the various beliefs about how to find Opal, the methods used to extract it etc. There were some Divining Rods in the mine, some people swear they can find it that way. Some of the group held the rods and were astonished when they moved BUT none of us had any idea which direction the Opal was supposed to be or were the rods indicating water or maybe oil?
The most astonishing thing to me was the size of the hole a miner goes down to begin digging for Opal. The hole is only about shoulder width and ends suddenly so the miner has to enlarge the hole around him with whatever tools he has with him. A drill is sent down in pieces and has to be reassembled in the enlarged hole.
Fergus was allowed on the tour and behaved perfectly for about the first hour of the talk then he got restless. I sat him on my knee and got covered in dust but I was down a mine!
We went into town and checked out a few places. There was a good cafe with lovely tabletops designed by a local artist and we enjoyed a drink there. Alex went in to John and Yoka’s Opal and Art shop to see an Opalised fish we’d been told about. When they knew Fergus was outside he was invited in and I think it’s likely they’ll be looking for one to fill the gap since their Westie, Lillie, died.
The Desert Cave Hotel has an informative display related to Opal Mining and we both checked it out.
Our intention tomorrow is to drive to Kingoonya.