our story

How it began

The story of the Chambers of the Black Hand is truly inspiring. Over the past 26 years, it has become a place of wonder and awe for people from all over the world. The journey started in 1997 when Ron Canlin, a talented artist and opal miner, opened up his opal mine to the public, an unprecedented move at the time.

Ron had been chasing his dream of striking it big with black opal since 1982, but it seemed that fortune had turned its back on him. After two decades of mining, the mine proved to be more of a ‘dud’ claim where he was spending more money than he was making. He was only earning around $1000 per year, not even enough to pay for expenses.

the evolution

However, Ron is a man of great character and resilience, and he refused to give up.

Instead of giving in to defeat, Ron decided to turn his situation around. He opened up his mine to the public and welcomed visitors with open arms. He hand dug a set of stairs, 18 metres deep, from the surface down to the opal clay level, to give his guests an authentic and unforgettable experience.

The masterpiece

As more people started to visit, Ron’s creativity was sparked, and he began to expand the experience. He created a room in the sandstone level, 6 metres above the opal clay level, where he demonstrated the process of cutting opals and turned rough stones into precious gems.

As he dug further into the sandstone, Ron discovered that it was soft and he could carve it, and he started creating sculptures, bringing even more life and beauty to the space.

Today, the Chambers of the Black Hand is a testament to Ron’s determination, creativity, and generosity. It is a place of wonder, where visitors can witness the beauty of opal mining and the stunning creations that can come from turning a seemingly barren landscape into a place of great wonder and joy.

Our Beautiful Gem

by Ron Canlin

There’s not many men who would sink a shaft with a hope of finding a stone.

There’s not many men who are so daft as to work many hours on their own.

With little reward for our beautiful gem, the black opal, the stone of renown.

Especially black opal, not many of them in this unforgiving ground.

So when you see the colour and you see the fire and the heart break and strife that’s behind it.

Just think of the men whose hopes never tire and the long hours of hard work to find it.