ST FINBARR’S OPAL ALTAR
Freely visit this beautiful display of Australia’s Opal in all its glory.
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.
Bill Durack was part of a Toowoomba architectural firm who designed Quilpie’s St Finbarr’s Church. Bill and his sister Dame Mary Durack, author of “Kings in Grass Castles”, donated the beautiful coloured glass windows in the western side of the church, in memory of their famous ancestors.
Kings in Grass Castles is a 1959 book of history by Dame Mary Durack (1913-1994). The book is considered a classic of Australian literature. It is the story of Durack’s pioneering family establishing its pastoral interests in the Australian outback during the 19th century.
It concerns the life and times of Durack’s grandfather, Patrick Durack, an Irish immigrant who became a leader of the overlanders who brought their cattle on hoof to the tropical north. The book was notable for its portrayal of the role of women and families in the pastoral industry and collaboration and respect between the pastoralists and local Aborigines