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Geology

Quilpie Shire has two key industries associated with geology - Opals and Oil and Gas. You will be amazed at how abundant they are within the community and you'll also find some fun "To Do" activities.

OPALS

Allow the Quilpie Shire to introduce you to a radiant beauty - the exquisite boulder opal. Australia supplies 96 per cent of the world’s commercial-grade opal and claims it as the official gemstone for the country.  The boulder opal of Quilpie Shire has a backing of ironstone, which makes it one of the most beautiful and durable of all opals.

Opals are cherished for their unique combination of fiery colours and dazzling dancing lights. It is the only gemstone that can naturally split light into all the colours of the rainbow. Opal-bearing boulders are typically elongated or ellipsoidal and can be up to three meters long and one meter thick. The only way to tell if the boulder holds the precious opal is to gently tap away the boulder for signs of the opal-bearing potch or the flash of colours found in true opal.

The council-run fossicking area, 1km west of Quilpie, provides a real opportunity for all ages to have a go at uncovering this pretty gemstone. Enjoy the wood-fired barbecues and dig for treasure at the same time.

The Duck Creek and Sheep Station Creek opal fields are 60km east of the Toompine township.  These fields have been worked since the 1880s and are open to the public however a fossicking licence is required. Maps and licences can be obtained from the visitor centre.

At the opal shops in town, you can see opals being cut and polished and purchase a very special souvenir or gift to take home. Every opal pattern is as different as a fingerprint. However the value of opal is largely subjective and depends on the cut, polish, body colour, as well as the play and pattern.

Des Burton, known as the father of the boulder opal industry, is largely responsible putting Australian opals on the world stage. He operated various opal mines around Quilpie in the 1960s and was quite successful however he didn’t have a strong market for the opals. He spent many years travelling the world and opening markets for his opals. By the 1980s, Des has opened many shops including Quilpie opals in Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall.

The Visitor Information Centre can assist you with all the details.

To Do                                                                                                                          
• Fossick for opals near Quilpie.
• Visit the opal altar, font and lectern at St Finbarr’s Church in Quilpie
• Get a Fossicking Licence and head to Duck Creek and Sheep Station Creek opal fields.

Did You Know
The colours used for branding the Quilpie Shire were derived from the colours found in opals. Red is the most precious colour. The oranges, yellows, greens and blues found in the opals are also spectacular.

OIL AND GAS

Eromanga is the largest oil-producing area in mainland Australia. The township plays host to a mini refinery that refines crude oil and supplies automotive distillates, jet fuel and specialty chemicals. The refinery produces about 1.5 million barrels of oil a year.

On the driver from Quilpie to Eromanga, travellers will begin to notice large rods sticking out of the ground. These are called oil donkeys and are scattered on the side of the road. The curved end is attached to a rod, which can be up to a thousand feet long, and powers a submersible pump in the borehole, pumping oil back the surface.

To Do
• Have a photo in front of an oil donkey.
• See the oil refinery and count the number of tanks in the yard

Did You Know
Eromanga is the furthest town from the sea in Australia!

 

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