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Central West Queensland since 1923
Central West Queensland

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24 July, 2021

Opal flourish 

The Winton Opal Festival saw one of its biggest-ever crowds.

By Michael R Williams

David and Jamie-lee (17) Strang, Milly Dormley (14), Prue Strang, and James Evert are devoted to opals. PHOTO: Michael R Williams

A DIFFERENT kind of rock festival came to Winton last weekend when hundreds from all over the nation gathered to witness the best the growing opal industry could offer.  

Miners, lapidaries, and jewellery artists from all over hosted stalls at the street markets; including, a stall hosted by the famous TV stars from Outback Opal Hunters.  

Winton was a town founded on opal mining, and the event, which saw a packed Elderslie Street, was a spectacular celebration of its history.  

Queensland Boulder Opal Association (QBOA) treasurer and event committee member David Strang said it was a wonderful turnout.  

“This is a new record for stall holders for us,” he said.  

“This will be a great injection into the town’s economy; the opal industry is a big part of the Winton economy.” 

Last year, QBOA could only host one event in September due to COVID, but this year, they plan to have two opal festivals — last week’s event and another in September, which will run in conjunction with the Outback Festival.  

Mr Strang said the success of the show was due to the level of production in the opal fields meaning there is plenty of material to sell.  

“It’s [the show] a great window for the general public to see the production of this opal industry and the startling gems that are around,” he said.  

Local miners John and Jenny Vinnicombe have been working at the Arch mine for 30 years, 200 kilometres southeast of Winton.  

They said despite the lower turnout of overseas buyers who often buy the large ore expensive opal, it has been made up for financially by the smaller tourists who have been buying smaller opals and jewellery.  

“The people that we usually see aren’t here; [we have] a bag of stuff, it’s going to America,” Ms Vinnicombe said.  

The Vinnicombes expect to see the show grow further into the future after the lockdowns.  

“I think Winton has a huge future,” she said.  

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