Things To Do
* The local “Cemery” is just a kilometre down the road from the Toompine Hotel - ask for directions and the story behind the name.
* DUCK CREEK & SHEEP STATION CREEK OPAL FOSSICKING LAND
“A region steeped in history & legends”
The Toompine opal field is located between Quilpie & Yowah and includes Duck Creek and Sheep Station Creek workings. Mining for opal has been carried out extensively in these areas since the late 1800’s using underground and open cut methods.
The Duck Creek & Sheep Station Creek Designated Fossicking Land was established under the Fossicking Act in 1995 by the Department of Mines and Energy, with the co-operation of the Quilpie Shire Council and the landowner to provide recreational fossicking areas for visitors. The Duck Creek & Sheep Station Creek workings offer visitors a chance to experience firsthand typical opal bearing country in western Queensland.
Whilst much of the opal bearing ground occurs at depths beyond fossickers, the mullock heaps of the old workings provide the best chance of a find. “Specking” fragments of opal or ironstone matrix from the ground surface is always a possibility.
A person fossicking for opal is requires to be the holder of a Fossicking Licence. Licences are available for individuals, families, clubs, educational organizations and commercial tour operators for terms varying from 1 month to 12 months. Fees vary accordingly and licences are normally valid for the whole of the state. Fossickers Licences can be obtained from the Mining Register, Quilpie Shire Council Visitor Information Centre and at the Toompine Hotel.
Hand tools only are permitted (no machine mining). Commercial mining activities still occur in the Designated Fossicking Land and a number of mining tenures are current. These mining tenures must not be entered without the written permission of the holders.
Camping is allowed in the Designated Fossicking land for a maximum of 3 months. A Fossicking Camping Permit is required, which can be obtained from the same outlets as for licences. No facilities exist and due to the remoteness of the area, visitors should ensure that adequate supplies of food, water and fuel are carried.
The best time to visit the opal fields is April-September. Summer should be avoided due to the high temperatures and possible heavy rains making road access impossible in some areas. Emergency supplies including food, water, first aid kit and vehicle supplies should be carried when travelling in remote areas.
Fossicking around old shafts requires care and attention to safety at all times. In particular, avoid the loose edges at open shafts and always keep children under supervision. Do not enter shafts – unstable ground, bad air, snakes and spiders are some of the hazards that may be present.
For further information contact:
The Mining Register – Phone: 07 46561266
or Quilpie Visitor Information Centre – Phone: 07 46561540
It was at opal field’s near Toompine, where Vincent Dowling and F.A Powell registered the first opal mine in 1871, which was later called “Pride of the Hills”.
The Duck Creek Opal Field is also where Queensland’s largest opal, the “Huns Head” was discovered in 1872, weighing 15.75kg (35lb).