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Central West Queensland since 1923
Central West Queensland

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7 July, 2021

Festival to celebrate national gem

The Winton Opal Festival is this weekend. Don't miss out.

By Michael R Williams

Winton Opal Gems is a store in Winton that will be featured at the festival, here is some of their stock. PHOTO: Supplied.

WINTON’S Queensland Boulder Opal Festival, this weekend, is so pivotal not only to the miners in the Winton mining district but also to the whole community.  

It enables the buyers, whether they be from a retail shop in Sydney, dealers, or buyers representing overseas interests. 

Being the first opal festival in the opal circuit for the year, Stephen Tasic, owner of Winton Opal Gems, and committee member for the festival said it has always been the most important show, not only for getting in early and doing a deal but also the networking and the deals that are then consummated down the road at the following opal shows. 

Mr Tasic’s family has been in the boulder opal industry for over 35 years and is celebrating this year with a big sale in his retail shop on all of his designer opal jewellery and gemstones as it has been 10 years since the formation of his opal shop with his father.  

He and his father just love to talk opal, among other things with the travellers, that come and explore this hidden gem of a town called Winton. 

With such a renewed interest in everything opal, Mr Tasic decided it was a good time to curate a collection of speakers that are industry experts in their field for the festival on July 9 and 10.  

The idea was for an industry forum to inform and educate all including the public on the different aspects of the boulder opal industry here in Queensland. 

The event kicks off with an informal “Meet and Greet” on Thursday night, July 8, at the Aussie Hotel. 

Then on Friday, July 9, there is series of presentations at the North Gregory Hotel that will start at 8am and finish at 1pm in the afternoon with a line-up of 10 speakers with an opportunity for questions and answers. 

Early Saturday morning is when Elderslie Street will be blocked off for the many vendors who will be set up to showcase some of the best \opal Queensland has to offer.  

Later that night the QBOA will host the Queen of Gems Jewellery Design Awards at the Waltzing Matilda Centre which is also open to the public with limited tickets available so get in early to reserve your spot at

Speakers will have 15 minutes each with a five-minute Q and A, and cover topics such as boulder opal mining, the art of cutting boulder opal, with a special guest appearance from Colin Duff from the popular Discovery Channel Show “Outback Opal Hunters” as well as opal jewellery valuations and designing with boulder opal. 

“It will be an action-packed line-up with visitors coming from far and wide, it's always good to catch up with people that you have not seen for a year or more and meet the new enthusiasts!” 

“We want people to come and learn and engage directly with experts.” 

He said there would be opal cutters, shopkeepers from around Australia, international proxy buyers or dealers, internet traders, collectors, and the general public all mixing with the miners and opal enthusiasts. 

Mr Tasic said there was quite a buzz about this year’s festival as the opal industry is seeing a resurgence, especially boulder opals. 

“The Outback Opal Hunters has really given us great exposure in the gemstone marketplace within Australia and internationally creating demand for a uniquely Australian product that will hopefully translate into more investment into the mining side of the equation to able to increase production levels to keep up with the demand.” 

The Queensland Opal Field is the largest of its kind in the world. 

Mr Tasic said if this natural resource was in any other country there would be much more ground under mining tenure. 

“Having said that, there seems to be a resurgence of activity on the field at present, with new leases being pegged, new machinery turning up, and deals being done,” he said. 

“There’s still a big resource under the ground, it’s just a matter of extracting it economically.” 

Mr Tasic said opals have been a part of Winton’s heritage since 1895. 

“Culturally it is important for us opalholics to get together, you see opal mining is usually about partnerships or family operations, we are small miners that are passionate about what we do. The multiplier effect for our local economy in the way of employment and goods and services that we need to keep going in our search for the Queen of Gems has been underestimated for years” he said. 

“If opal mining fell away from some of these Outback Queensland Towns it would have a detrimental effect not only on the monetary side but also from the community of the bush characters that you have that have adapted to the conditions in the Outback and love this way of life.” 

Mr Tasic said as the population of miners is getting older, they are moving on, it's important the opal festival focuses on encouraging new blood into the industry. 

“A lot of us are doing it because we love it,” he said. 

“The knowledge base needs to be shared, we need a lot of young people to come into the industry and the Winton Opal Festival is a way of encouraging that.” 

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