The Government has announced funding to assist the South Australian Museum to purchase the Fire of Australia opal.

20 January 2017

The Government has announced $455,000 over three years to assist the South Australian Museum to purchase the rare Fire of Australia opal. 

The 988 gram opal is believed to be the most valuable piece of rough opal in existence. Its rarity and links to early resource exploration and mining make it an important part of Australia’s heritage.

The opal was hand-mined in the South Australian town of Coober Pedy by Walter Bartram in 1946 and has remained in the Bartram family’s possession ever since.

The opal will now be preserved by the South Australian Museum and displayed to the public as a single intact natural science object.

The funding will come from the National Cultural Heritage Account which provides funding to assist museums, galleries, libraries and archives to acquire significant cultural objects and ensure they are preserved and displayed in Australia.

Cultural items previously funded by the Account include The Malcolm Moore Engine for the Alexandra Timber Tramway and Museum, in Victoria, the Fairfax media Glass-Plate Negative Collection (1900–1935) for the National Library of Australia, and the Sundial by Raphael Clint for the Port Macquarie Historical Museum.

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Fire of Australia Opal
Courtesy of the South Australian Museum

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Fire of Australia Opal
Courtesy of the South Australian Museum