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"Like California must have looked
during the gold rush."

Lambina has been known as an opal field for about 30 years, and is known to produce some of the very finest and most stable opal. But there have never been very many gangs working there, until recently.

On the way to Mintabie, we passed and then met up with George the Desert Fox and his crew for the first time.

It's not uncommon to have a meeting in the middle of nowhere...

And since we're about as remote as you can get, men will be jokers, and after chatting a while, three of the party decided that the camera needed to be given proper acknowledgement...by mooning the Yank !

You'll just have to imagine the frame before this one...
Murray had already hurried out of range...:-)


Why the Rush to Lambina?

Someone discovered a very rich pocket, and the rush is on. There are between 60 and 100 camps there now and as many machines as I've ever seen.

This is an example of the camps

All of the camps are clustered in a little 'town', but as yet, there is no store, and everything has to be trucked in from Marla (70Km), water, petrol and food.

On this visit, we drove around and talked to some of the miners who were old friends. Here is one that best exemplifies the idea of what it's like to live right now in Lambina :
Boiling water on a wood stove, for a Sunday shave.

It didn't take us long to find the camp of George the 'Desert Fox', and the location of the biggest party this afternoon.

Here we found several old friends of Jimmy and Murray, and lot of new ones for me. The chatter was already lively when we got there, and we quickly got them talking about the opal that was being found. After the sharing of water and spirits.

The laptop is always nearby...


The problem with names

It's difficult to remember all of the names, and it doesn't help much that it seems like everyone is named George, or Steve, or Jimmy, etc. There are two George's in the picture above. But it doesn't matter, the look in the eyes of these folk always conveys recognition and welcome.

George and I had an hour long chat.


The opal was being found in all sorts of new levels, probably because there are more gangs here than ever before ? Here's one of the stones that was showed to me :

The big stone is the size of your hand.


And the afternoon whiled away with stories from George the Desert Fox and others who wandered in and out...
Tales from the opal fields

Other faces around. (George is always there)


And we couldn't leave Lambina without taking time to repair the WRX which had suffered some undercarriage damage when doing the last attempt at wing-less flight over a hill...
Just a swift kick in the tailpipe...


I was back at Lambina within a week, with Tony, an old friend and opal buyer. He was going to Lambina to see if there was any good parcels to buy, and I tagged along.

Before leaving Coober Pedy this time, we stocked up on loaves of bread and a cooler of iced beer. This kind of house gift is greatly appreciated in the outback. It took only a few minutes before the iced beer was sniffed out by the neighboring camps !



One of the most interesting side-lines of this trip was the great variety of bird life. On my first trip there had been no significant rain, and the desert was totally brown and dead. This time, it seemed as if I were in a completely different place. More like a botanical garden.

And the birds followed the vegetation. So many that I can't remember them all, but certainly I was able to spot one of the most mythical birds to all 'birders', the 'Bustard'. An Australian Bustard, standing about 3 feet tall, and wonderfully graceful in the air.

Now let's get back to the opal mine. On the day after the trip to Mintabie and Lambina, the rains quit and we were able to do some mining again...

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Mac Made

Last modified: July 8, 2007
Murray Willis