Thursday, 15 September 2011

Nettleton's First Shaft

Admiring Nettleton's handiwork ...
The end destination of the Green Car Door tour was Nettleton's First Shaft Lookout.

Charles Waterhouse Nettleton is credited as being the founder of the black opal industry.  He was in his 40s when he sank his first shaft in 1902, backed by a syndicate of businessmen.  While that first effort didn't produce any opal, a second shaft was sunk the following year and he sold his first parcel of opal at that time.

(The tour notes clarify that it was common practice for early miners to sink a shaft and move to sinking another if they didn't immediately find opal; whereas today's miners tunnel and explore more thoroughly before abandoning a shaft).

I had wondered what happened to Nettleton after 1903 and have poked about a bit since returning home.  Information is scant but seemingly by the 1940s he was growing old and blind, living in a Salvation Army home in Sydney.  He was subsequently buried at  the Rookwood Cemetry in 1946.

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