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Towns near the opal fields rise and fall.

Although Coober Pedy is the opal capital, and largest mining area, there are many other smaller mining areas in South Australia. Mintabie (like "meant t' be") is next largest opal town, and at one time was more productive than Coober Pedy.

When I was there 4 years ago, it was a busy little settlement, but of late, it has become almost a ghost town with only 6 crews working there.

Here's a view of one of the best homes in Mintabie.

It's a sad statement about the plight of the opal miners, that this home is unoccupied, and the machines are long unused. This is the reality of the opal mining business. It takes big money, big risks, and the ability to withstand big losses.

Including the businesses that serve the miners. The Mintabie bar is one of those that is suffering the loss of customers. But it will probably see it's hay-days again.

Site of some very interesting stories....

As you can tell from the warm clothing, it was cold and rainy this day and we couldn't do any mining. So we took the opportunity to drive north from Coober Pedy to Mintabie. Seeing Mintabie so empty, we were prompted to drive out to the field that is causing most of the exodus from Mintabie... Lambina !

Remember, we're already 480Km north of Coober Pedy. Mintabie is 45Km west of the Stuart Hiway, and we gotta drive back to the Stuart, and then 70Km east to Lambina. There are 4 guys in the WRX, and it's dirt roads (and lots of rocks) all the way.

Before leaving Mintabie, I took a shot of one of the mines and hoped that this field would attract the hoards again.
A noodling machine

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Last modified: July 8, 2007
Murray Willis