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Snippets 4 February 2009
Other name stones mentioned in recent times include the Opera Star mined at the Deep 4-Mile in November 1973, the day before Sydney’s Opera House opened. Keith and May Sheen had an opal shop on 3-Mile flat where he cut the 25.67 carat gem. It was sold in October 1978.

The Orient Queen weighed 170 ct. and was mined at Glengarry in the 1960s. A Ridge company bought the gem to sell in USA. She had green flakes tinged with blue on black.

The Pride of Lightning Ridge was unearthed by John Molyneux in 1957. She was an inch in diameter and unusually thick, probably more valuable than £1000.

The Queen Alexandra is an outstanding red/gold/green on black stone that weighed 75 ct., and, as of 1966, is in the Los Angles County Museum of Natural History.

The Shangri-la is ‘fern patterned’ weighing 270 ct. and was minded at Bald Hill in the 1972. The American buyer died about 1995 and the gem was on the market in 2003.

The Fan Stone is a flat blue/green gem found in 1973 by John Parish and his team. She was sold in Japan and when the new owner turned her up the other way, there was Mt Fuji, a true picture stone.

Barbara Moritz
15 February 2009 06:47pm
Snippets 28 January 2009
In June 1986 as citizens of the world viewed a comet last seen in 1910, the Lunatic Hill Syndicate found the largest recorded black opal nobby. Halley’s Comet was mined in the 3-Mile open cut and is a gem quality nobby that rubbed back to 1982.5 ct. from 2020 carats or 405 grams. She measures 100 x 66 x 63mm (4 x 2-5/8 x 2 ½ inches) and is cited in the Guinness Book of Records, 1991.

The Barclay brothers sought permission to open cut in the vicinity during the late 1960s. The top claims were dangerous after 50 years of mining – opal was found as deep 40 meters. Open cutting was on again/off again and Lunatic Hill was changed forever. Much of the area has been backfilled as, at its maximum, the Lunatic Hill open cut incorporated 30 mining claims. The Car Door Explorer Tours guide you through the 3-Mile.

Halley’s Comet went up for sale and was of great interest to the black opal industry. The Syndicate declined an offer. The gem nobby was on display in a Gold Coast shop for a spell and in 1998, interest was revived when the Comet was advertised for sale at $A2.5 million. In 2009, she is securely stored but such a treasure could be revealed to an illusive buyer at the proposed Australian Opal Centre, Lightning Ridge.

Barbara Moritz
15 February 2009 06:46pm
Snippets 21 January 2009
In 1926 there was a rush to the Grawin opal field just southwest of Lightning Ridge via Cumborah. In October of that year, the local miner/reporter, John Landers, reported a ‘small exodus’ to the area and said that six out of eight miners had bottomed on opal at a 25-30 foot level! Some fine opal was being found, especially by Denis, Stephan (Stevens), and Huggard, who were mining either side of Landers.

Two large black stones - the bigger measuring 4x1/2x3 1/2 inches with colour traceable over nearly 2/3 of the stone, and the smaller weighing 320 carats, partially faced – were of exceptional beauty. Landers compared the quality of these two stones with those found in the Phone Line patch by Urwin and Brown about 10 years prior.

The magnificence of the smaller black opal qualified her to be known as the Grawin Queen, the best opal yet procured from the field. Holding her in whatever light, half the face was a standing pattern immovable, and the other half, changing with every movement to the deepest red and then into the brightest orange. It is reported that Ernie Sherman bought her for £150 in 1930.

The Grawin rush ran right into the late 1920s when the community grew closest to becoming a real village. Such opal mining fever was not known there again until the original Carter's Rush and Millionaire's Gully of recent times!

Barbara Moritz
15 February 2009 06:39pm