It all started way back ……. in 1975 to be precise.
Just how did I become involved with opals specifically boulder opal?
My uncle, Bob Grey, figures prominently in this portion of my story.
Initially it was he who persuaded me to venture with him into the West Australian outback, to a town called Kalgoorlie and there begin a career based on mineral exploration. I had just finished high school in Sydney and pondering my next move when uncle Bob came to visit. He, in his midlife, had studied Geology and had been employed by a Sydney based exploration company to run their field office in Kalgoorlie.
Kalgoorlie was, and still is, one of the World’s most important gold producing areas. Kalgoorlie and the wild west were wild once more only this time horses had been replaced by 4 wheel drives. The mineral exploration boom was on. It was the early 1970’s, the Vietnam war was still raging and the world’s thirst for minerals was unquenchable. The primary exploration target at the time was Nickel, (for Australian readers, it was the time of Poiseidon). So, having lured me west, he promptly disappeared, which he had developed into an art form over the years, only to resurface some 5 years later. I, in the intervening period, developed a career in the exploration industry, studied some geology and my last job had been running an exploration program in the Kimberley region of north western Australia for a well known multi national company.
I have to digress here for just a moment. Our first campsite on this particular exploration project was on Ellendale station. I still remember some of the other geologists attached to the project joking about the possibility of there being diamonds in the area and we were looking for coal! We were camped right on top of the Ellendale diamond deposit which commenced mining operations several years ago and is valued in excess of a billion dollars!
Christmas 1975. We met, as we always did, at my parents home in Sydney. I was on break while Bob was on his way from somewhere to somewhere else. I remember he had with him a large, heavy, hessian sack. He told me to come out into the yard with him where he spilled out the contents of the sack. At first all I saw were red-brown lumps of rock. Bob took a hammer and broke open one of the rocks. I was speechless. He had just unleashed the brightest rainbow I had ever seen. It was the first time that I had seen Boulder Opal and it changed my life forever.
Next page: The Goldfinger Boulder Opal Mine