Digging is allowed May 15 through Oct. 15, WEATHER PERMITTING. No reservations are needed; however, PLEASE SIGN IN at the Gift Shop before starting to mine!
If you have never mined for opals before, or even if you have, we will be happy to show you the basics and get you started. Staff are on-site throughout the day to answer questions and offer advice as needed.
When signing in at the Gift Shop office, you will choose from several different types of mining, as follows.
Bank Digging costs $190/day/person. And, it is hard work! However, it may offer the best chance to find a noteworthy opal. In bank mining, you work ground that has never been moved or sifted before.
We prepare the mining banks in the off-season. Using heavy equipment, we remove hundreds of feet of clay "over-burden." That exposes sloping, near vertical "banks" or terraces of opal-bearing substrate.
The work of bank mining involves knocking fresh material from the bank, typically with a pick or rock hammer. We recommend removing no more than a hand's thickness at a time. It is important to work evenly, and not to "under-cut" the bank. Undercutting can create dangerous rock-fall conditions for yourself and others.
Often, the sound of your pick hitting glass may be the first sign that you have found something. The next step is to use small hand-tools to dig the specimen out. Typical tools include ice-picks, sharpened screwdrivers, and rock chisels. (See:Â Tools needed for mining)
Depending on the type of opal you find, you may wish to place it in a bucket of water once you have fully extracted it. For some types of opal, this will prevent cracking and crazing that could result from rapid drying. With other types of opal, such as limb casts, soaking could cause any remaining wood to expand and crack the opal. If in doubt, consult on-site Royal Peacock Opal Mine staff.
Click the photos below for a pop-up slideshow of bank mining at the Royal Peacock Opal Mine
|Heads or tails?|
|While the head banks sometimes produce larger specimens, large opals have been found in the tailings that were overlooked by bank diggers, or pushed out with the backhoe.|
Another, less expensive (and less strenuous!) option is to mine the tailings. It costs $75/person/day.
The "tailings" comprise mounds of looser material that can be sifted through using garden rakes (although picks can be useful, too, for breaking up clods).
Sometimes the opals found in the tailings were previously missed by bank diggers. Other times, they were dumped there by the backhoe during initial bank preparation, or Â routine daily site work. Each morning, the backhoe clears debris left by miners the previous day, while also removing material to keep the bank stable and safe.
The work of mining the tailings consists of raking through material. While raking, keep an eye out for unusual colors and shapes, and listen for unusual sounds!
Children are valuable helpers, because they are low to the ground, and often have excellent eyesight. Children 12 and under mine free with paid adult (mine dumps and tailings, only)
Click the photos below for a pop-up slideshow of dump and tailings mining at the Royal Peacock Opal Mine
ATTN: Pets must be on leash, and picked up after. There is no open area for pets or pet poo.
Further suggested reading: