"Like California must have looked
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.
during the gold rush."
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
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
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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Last modified: July 8, 2007