Friday, April 29, 2005

Fire in a Plain Brown Wrapper

The pen weighs so much less than the shovel. As I get older I still want to work within my opal passion and writing about my favorite subject may help me earn a quid or two. So before I head back to Australia and the shovel, I have been writing a bookzine that informs with colorful opals' photos and text. I teach the basics of the magic of Queensland ironstone opals. ( Yowah, Koroit, boulder opals) What a learning curve this self publishing is! My project is due to hit the printer's presses in a couple weeks. The mystery and confusion of creating a publication has not beat me. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. If this flies, meaning makes me some money, then I can expect more time spent at the computer in future books. I used to cartoon life on The Slope for the Prudhoe Bay Journal. I saved those original Roustabout Rhonda cartoons and all the letters I wrote home to my family. There has to be a book there. But one project at a time. Fire in a Plain Brown Wrapper the Gem Magic of Queensland Opal will be available on my website soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Yowah Opal Festival 2004 & 2005

Yowah Opal Festival 2004The wind was cold…an Antarctic cold front! The Yowah opal was glorious…rare and intriguing Yowah nuts on display. The huge bonfire warmed all those brave enough to gather to celebrate the wondrous Yowah opal. The design contest provided beauteous opal jewelry to behold. I built a diorama in miniature of a miner's camp for a display complete with bottle of beer sitting next to the cracking heap, wild goat, and a dunny. The magnificent opals on display from the miners' private collections was a sight to make any opalholic drool. The Arts and Crafts tent featured their theme "Skin" and displayed paintings of custard with skin, a genuine snakeskin nude, nudes,and photography of glorious tree trunk bark to mention only a few. Artist Belle Starr, otherwise known as Naomi Lawlis of Santa Fe, painted the boot(trunk) door of a car. The scene depicted an opal buyer coming to town with his money wagon in tow too late for the skeletal remains of an miner with sign clutched in his hand reading,"Opal for Sale" They auctioned that door as one of the "Yowah Doors" a tradition to raise money to help cover costs of festival promotion. Internationatol travelers rubbed elbows with Aussies from the big cities come to have fun in the Outback Yowah style If you are in the vicinity of Australia…..

This year's Yowah Opal Festival 15th - 17th July 2005
The Opal Festival begins Friday at 6.30pm (Queensland time) with the Miners' BBQ and Official Opening, followed by two full days of activities on Saturday and Sunday.
Special Guests, Entertainment, Meals and Refreshments throughout the FestivalLicenced Bar Special Opal Display Walk in mine toursWindlass RaceTailgaters and Stalls
Breakfast: Saturday and Sunday morning from 7.30amSaturday night 3 course Meal, Singer and DiscoFinish Sunday NightEntertainment & Dancing
Stall bookings: Eddie Maguire Email: Thanks to for the current 2005 festival information.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Jackpot of Yowah Nuts and I Didn’t Get It!

The guy buys a $30.00 rough Yowah opal nut from me and sells it for $30,000.00!!
This is why we opalholics stay hooked. Whether you are a serious miner or a rockhound that does their treasure hunting at rock and gem shows that jackpot is just around the corner> I have lectured that a miner can not ever double and triple check all his Yowah nuts and not miss a thing. If you are in the opal mining game, you often have to sell opal in the rough to finance your mining. You can’t cut it all and sell it all in time to meet the mining season. Also your business may depend on the revenue made selling rough.The facination of the Queensland ironstone concretions is that you never know what is inside. There is always that jackpot waiting for you in one of them.Thousands of them have absolutely no opal. And then voilla! somewhere in the midst of the $30.00 specimens is a double Yowah nut and the lucky buyer bought it from me, rubbed it down further and evidently found a real beauty. I received an email from an opal enthusiast (opal was in his email address) He said that he had spoken to a man who told him that he had bought that Yowah nut from Barbara McCondra for $30.00 and when he bought it, he thought it was worth at least $50.00. So he also had no clue what lay within.Now I never was informed about it until a few days ago. And all I could say was good luck to him.
That’s the opal game. A miner toils for months in a mine and then leaves without finding a pocket. The next miner starts where he left off and finds a $100,000 pocket of opal one foot further in the face of the drive(tunnel). You play a slot machine for two hours and leave broke. The grey haired granny sits in the seat and hits the jackpot on the first go. Barbara McCondra sells the goodlooking specimen nut for a price she reckons is a bit cheaper that ohers would sell it for (I always try to beat the going rate) the opalholic who has been searching opal vendors tables for years, buying specimens for his collection, buying rough opal for a bit of lapidary fun, hits the JACKPOT!
Well, that is just more fuel for the fire. It came out of my mine. I never before mined and sold such an opal from that mine in 12 years, but that doesn’t mean there is not another one in there and this time for me (or you if you buy some of those lotto tickets that look like Yowah opal). So I go now to practice shrugging my shoulders and saying c'est la vie.