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Mezze is widely served in the Greek and Middle eastern world. An assortment of little dishes and tasters which accompany a nice ouzo or a glass of wine. So when you read mezze moments you will have tasty snippets of life as I live it, India for four years and now Brisbane Australia, all served up with some Greek fervour and passion.

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Thursday, 13 March 2014

My first miners -Their story.

I met John and Leanne at their stall on Brisbane Riverfront when I was looking for something completely different. They were lovely and we got chatting. They are the first "miners" I met and so I made a point of contacting them and finding out about their story. Leanne very kindly wrote back. I am sharing this with you all as I think it is a lovely story of how one finds passion in life and goes after it. They certainly have, and while it is not easy they have done it and still enjoy it. 

This is their story: 
"Johns father was involved in opal and mining in the 1960’s and 70’s, so John travelled around the opal fields with his father a lot as a kid, he has always had an interest. Always said “one day I want to go mining” so I guess it rubbed off on me too.
We were both hairdressers and had salons in Sydney and the Gold Coast, in our time off we travelled  a lot around the opal fields and generally outback areas. We both love the remoteness and wide open expanses of inland Australia. So we played a little as amateur noodlers (fossicking through other opal miners leftovers) all the time becoming tired of the hustle and bustle of life on the Gold Coast, I think the term these days is burnt out, but we easily  became hooked with our 1st hint of colour.
One of our  good clients was very involved in the opal industry, she had retail shops, and a couple of opal mines. Kathy offered us a partnership in a mining operation, so off we went in 1999. We sold our business, put our furniture in storage, tenanted our house, towed a 20ft caravan out to a place we had never before even visited ...... to live at Opalton, an opal field 135 km from Winton in western Queensland.
We learnt how to operate a 28 ton excavator, a front end loader and  I knew how to drive a truck (I grew up on an apple orchard in Victoria,  always was a bit of a tom boy). We didn't really know much about finding opal though. We had a couple of lean years mining then started to find some opal.  And yes, it is very exciting finding opal, we shout and yahoo, carry on a fair bit. I don't think that ever wears off.
We still feel the same excitement and the emotional and physical roller coaster of opal mining that I wrote about on our website.
Our early experiences selling the rough opal to dealers was very upsetting and disappointing. The dealers knew we needed to sell ( the saying goes “you cant eat opal”) and were inexperienced so offered a low price.
So we learnt the skills  to cut and polish our own opal. Our original styles were very modern and different to what was traditionally being done with opal. We shaped and polished the boulder opal then drilled a hole tied some knots with leather to make  casual pendants. Our first display and sales were in Winton during the Outback festival, there were 3000 people in town. We had made 80 pieces as a trial and sold the lot. All the other miners were in town for the festival, all told us we were wasting our time with this style of opal, which is now a very popular style with boulder opal.
As the average temperature is 45 degrees through summer  we decided that  we could avoid the worst of the heat and sell our pieces at markets on the coast , this could be our summer job. Both of us are creative so as things went along we started to make all sorts of opal jewellery and  business improved.  Now , we spend  the cooler months out west mining ( we also buy rough from our mates to give us variation), and the summer months here on the coast (our workshop is at home) cutting, polishing and designing opal jewellery.  We display at the weekend markets and supply various jewellers all over with our jewellery.
Opal mining isnt like other mining in Queensland with huge companies mining  in a big way, it is all small mining operations, like 2 mates, or a couple of brothers, father and sons and a few husband and wife teams.
Well that finished up being quite a lot , I hope I havnt drowned you with words.
I think you might have gathered that we love what we do, it is our life.
I  enjoyed looking at your blog, I like the botanical gardens part in Brisbane, those figs are great.
You can find John and Leanne on :

More about the creation of opals in another blog. 

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