Opalton, located almost 1500 kilometres from Brisbane, has featured on the hit television show, Outback Opal Hunters, since 2018 … and the town is keen to capitalise on the opportunity.
A brand new Exhibition and Visitors Centre is in the design phase, and will give future visitors a real sense of the history and geology of the area.
QBOA president James Evert says the time is now to capitalise on the tourism boom and immortalise the stories of the past.
“What we’re seeing is a generational change,” Mr Evert said.
“We’ve got to capture this modern history from the 60s, 70s onwards, when a lot’s happened here so the timing is right to grab it while the memories are still here.”
The Opalton Exhibition and Visitors Centre is still in the design phase but will be unlike anything the mining outpost has ever seen. It’s hoped the centre will provide the foundation of a bustling tourist industry.
“As a local coming from the Winton district, it’s so great,” he said.
“It’s going to be a major attraction for all the tourists that come into the area, and the operators in the surrounding area to come here to Opalton confident there’ll be people here to greet them.”
And he said the town’s growing reputation had sparked many positive changes.
“We’ve had heaps of people coming through, and that means it grows, we get more water tanks, more dongas, more shower and toilet blocks,” Mr Evert told the ABC. “This is a little community way out in the middle of nowhere, so to get people to come and visit is great, it gives miners a chance to sell stones, a bit of socialisation, and people get to enjoy the Outback as it really is.”
And he said there was no reason that the good times couldn’t continue to roll for a while yet.
“We’ve probably only dug about 5% of the known opal reserve here in Opalton, so we’re not going to run out of ground to chase opals in,” he said. “This’ll last 1,000 years.”
Grey nomads are, of course, well represented among those staying at the Opalton Bush Park eager to get their hands dirty in search of a ‘bit of colour’.
And increasing number of grey nomads now travel Australia with a gold detector or a spade and a sieve as the search for ‘treasure’ adds fun (and funds) to the Big Lap.
Opalton Bush Camp
Located 123km from Winton with camping and caravan area available for a small $2.50 fee per night. Toilets, hot showers and some undercover parking available. A sheltered BBQ area, pizza oven and small and large bbq plates are available for cooking with an enclosed eating area for day visitors.
The majority of the journey is on an unsealed road. Very basic supplies are available and there is no fuel available in Opalton. Please ensure you are fully stocked prior to your departure from Winton and check the road conditions.