Monday, 10 January 2011
The Opal Altar
"Home to one of Quilpie Shire's most iconic attractions, St Finbarr's Church rests on the foundations of an intriguing history.
In 1976, the Priest at the time, Father John Ryan, decided to compliment the opal mining background of the area by commissioning local miner, Des Burton, to install a border of opal around the carving of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.
Instead, Des offered the Priest 'a bit on the wall'. This turned out to be almost an entire wall, which is now installed on St Finbarr's altar, lectern and baptismal font.
Des Burton, the father of the boulder opal industry, is largely responsible for putting Queensland Boulder Opals on the world stage. He was a chemist with a pharmacy in Quilpie and spent many years mining opal and opening up the market worldwide. By the 1980s, Des had opened several retailing outlets including Quilpie Opals in Brisbane's Queen Street Mall."