Text from the Internet
When was Opal first discovered at White Cliffs?
Dreamtime stories tell of the Rainbow Serpent who travelled through this area – the legend indicating that opal formed from his droppings as he rested on his journey.
Unknown miners were said to be in the White Cliffs region in 1884.
Kangaroo shooters sold opal to Tullie Wollaston in 1889. The first official claim was registered on 21st March 1890.
How would the opal have been discovered?
Pieces known as “floaters” scattered over the surface of the ground would probably have been the first indication that opal was present.
How did White Cliffs get its name?
The original preparatory survey map of the later leasehold of “Tarella”, dated 1883, details the new Mt. Browne Road even to the gum trees marked at intervals. A paddock east of the road and along the east border of the fence with Run 22(Momba) is clearly marked “White Cliffs” and the chalky white ridge just west of the road comes close to Bunker Creek. The ridge was well known to travellers using the Mt. Browne to Wilcannia road as the “White Cliffs”. Possibly many were from Britain and remembered another “White Cliffs” back home. The name probably transferred from the chalky hills about 16 Kms. from where opal mining had begun.
At what depth is opal found?
On flat ground, such as “The Blocks”, opal is found at various levels from the surface to a depth of around 45 feet (13.5m). Deeper holes have been dug and opal discovered up to 80 feet (24m) from the surface. The latter depths are rarely worked today because of the change in mining methods. On the edges of the hills opal can be found closer to the surface due to the effects of erosion.
How many holes have been dug on the main field?
It is estimated that around 50,000 holes have been dug on the main field.
Is opal still being found at White Cliffs?
Certainly opal is still being found at White Cliffs!! How much is hard to say due to the secretive nature of opal mining but a look around the opal showrooms will give the Visitor a look at our beautiful White Cliffs treasures.
Do all Residents live in Dugouts?
No. There are 140 ‘dugouts ’(underground homes),which are as comfortable and modern as houses in other towns, as well as about 20 substantial above ground dwellings.
There are also some previous and present Govt. buildings such as the Hospital, Church, School, Post Office and the former Police station above ground.
How many miners are working in White Cliffs?
During the winter months there could be up to 100 miners working on the fields. Many of these miners are ‘hobby’ type miners who only spend short periods of time in the area. There are about 20 full time miners on the field.
What mining methods are used?
Hand mining- using jack-hammers, self tippers, windlasses etc.
Open cut mining – with machinery- excavators, back hoes etc
Mining underground-with tunnelling machines (mechanical diggers).
How hot does it get in summer?
Summer average is 35 degrees – highest ever recorded was 51.5 degrees on 12th January 1939.
How cold does it get in winter?
Average winter temperature is 17 degrees – coldest ever recorded was -6degrees
on 21st July 1945.
How large are the station properties?
Station sizes vary from approx. 70,000 acres(28,340 hectares) to 150,000 acres (60,728 Ha).
How does White Cliffs get its water supply?
A large ground tank about 6 kms. from the town is the main water supply. The capacity of this tank is approx 100Mega litres. A pipeline runs from the tank to town where the water is filtered. The water is then fed to two tanks situated at the highest point in town. The water is then reticulated by gravity feed to residents. This water is NOT suitable for drinking and most people have rainwater tanks for drinking and cooking
What medical services do we have?
We have a clinic staffed by a sister 9-5 Mon.-Fri.The Royal Flying Doctor conducts clinics usually three times a month sometimes less frequently during summer. In an emergency the Flying Doctor can be from Broken Hill to White Cliffs in approx. 50 minutes from the time of call.
What is opal?
Opal is an hydrated form of silica containing between 1-21% water. Precious opal has 6-10% water.
Precious opal shows a play of colour caused by light diffraction.
Common opal or ‘potch’ is generally clear to white.
Opal has a hardness of 5.5 to 6.5 on Moh’s scale of hardness.
What kinds of opals are found in White Cliffs?
Seam opal is found at White Cliffs with a full range of colours originating from a light coloured background. A variety of opalised fossils has also been found.
White Cliffs is the home of “opal pineapples”- forms of rock and opal resembling the shape of a pineapple. This is the only opal field where these collector’s pieces are found.
White Cliffs is renowned for its brilliant, gem quality, crystal opal.
What is the area like in and around White Cliffs?
White Cliffs is in a Semi-arid area of Far Western NSW-as such you will find stands of eucalypts, mulga, leopardwoods, quite a variety of trees in fact but not in forests as you would find in coastal areas. There are many varieties of low shrubs and grasses.
In White Cliffs itself much regeneration work has been done as it must be remembered that many trees were cut down to provide materials for housing and shoring up mine shafts.