Our Opal Mines by John Bernard

Jundah in remote Queensland. This is where the first black opals were found in Australia. This is also where the famous Galaxy boulder opal was found. This is where we mine our opals. Jundah opals. They are more luminous than others. Their colour plays even in the dimmest of lights.

It is hot in Jundah. In its hay day, Jundah used to be a booming settlement of over 600 opal miners and their make-shift infrastructures. Problems with water and the general harshness of the Outback life reduced that number to a handful of seasonal prospectors. Nowadays, milk, bread and a few other basics arrive in town twice a week, together with the mail. But forget the urban essentials of good coffee and bread. Or quality fruit or vegetables.
In a welcome irony of nature and mechanics, the sun energy brings a cooling respite from its punishing heat. We have now become probably the first opal mining operation to get off the grid, using solar energy for mining living quarters and workshop.

The mines are some 45 kilometer drive from the township. They are peppered with the holes left behind by shovel and pick miners of the bygone era. We feel lucky when we come across any undisturbed ground, which we work with much bigger tools. And the feeling of joy when the earth opens to reveal something breathtakingly rare and valuable cannot be described in words. It comes at a price; missing out on the important family moments, the urban comforts and professional stability. Still, the call of the treasure hunt and sharing the passion with my wife, bringing the gems in rough back to Sydney, makes it all possible and worthwhile. I would not change it for anything. This is my life.