Although we were delayed a day by the rains, the first day at the face of the mine
was exciting from the beginning. Not only were my expectations up, but within
10 minutes and only about two scoops of the excavator, we had found some very
bright crystal (the first 'vertical' seen earlier).
There were many more pockets, and lots of color this day...
Each day, whatever we found was tossed into an old bucket which would later
be tumbled and washed before it was sorted and classed. Some days you're lucky,
and some days are pretty slim. So you don't always come home and fondle over
the catch of the day.
But there were several evenings when we were sorting and classing the stuff
that had been thrown into the opal bucket during the previous days.
This is always an exciting time !
At the face of the mine:
Although there were sometimes more people than could safely act as checkers,
I was able to enjoy a taste of what it was like to go on for days in the mode of
getting up, driving to the mine, coming home, maybe watching an hour of the 'tele',
and then crashing till the next morning...
It's a scramble to get to the mine each morning, but we're there...
There were many times when Kent came down out of the excavator to do
some picking of his own...
Signs of the opal were everywhere !
And sometimes, it was necessary to wait around while the excavator moved
itself or spent an hour or so moving some over-burden which had to be
removed for safety and economy.
So where do you rest in a desert !?
One of the things that a miner always has around is a dog. There are some
other stories on Murray's site that talk of dogs, but at this time we had
a Blue Heeler named "Brock" (Kent is a fan of the Aussie race driver).
Not even a year old, and he's got the whiff of it...
Sometimes we had visitors like Murray and Nicole and Louise and Tony, and
once from a West Australian Lapidary Club who arrived
just as we had drilled and deposited 10 'bombs'
Never an unwanted visit, it was startling when this group of lapidary tourists
arrived just as we were
deploying the 'shots', and everyone had to run for cover...
Even avid opal-lovers duck for cover
Because this was the only picture I was able to catch ! I looked between
the view-finder of the camera and the air above, and the number of rocks
coming down were enough to make me run for cover after this shot...
Camera man runs for cover !
Although the opal mining was certainly the thing that brought me this time
to Coober Pedy, it was the people that made me feel so at home there.
On Friday nite, they have a dinner and Bingo game at the local Greek club,
and it's always a popular spot. Milton cooks for the club, sometimes pork,
and sometimes lamb, but always good. And only $5.00 Aus !
The Greek club was a riot of laughter...
And more intimate dinners were hosted by Milton and Tony.
A dinner at Milton's home :
And then another feast by Tony :
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Last modified: July 8, 2004