The following story was written by the man in the picture above, our long time friend Uncle George Bucholz.
Uncle George is currently in Australia for the third time in October 2004. He is now 81 and arrived with his 81 year cousin. They rented a mobile home or a trailer or whatever you call it and drove from Sydney to Lightning Ridge through Queensland, Mt Isa up to Darwin, then through the centre of Australia to Alice Springs.
They visited the Mintubi Opal fields, stayed in the Coober Pedy Opal fields and then came south to visit Murray Willis at his mine in Andamooka. They stayed for a number of days.
Uncle George was at the work face and was lifted up and down into the mine into the bucket of an excavator.
Uncle George then headed south and stayed with Murray for a few days including going down to the beach house at Victor Harbor. He is now on his way to Melbourne then back to Sydney.
In two months he would have travelled some 12,000 miles. He has opals from each field he went to and was just tickled pink with his life. What a man!
Uncle George’s Story
In 1981 and 1982 a series of very ordinary events began that has now culminated in some very extra ordinary happenings that has greatly changed certain aspects of my life – very much to the better.
In June 1981 I retired after spending 32 years in the insurance business. My wife and certain friends decided that part of my interests after retirement should be rock cutting, so I was presented with some rock cutting equipment to use and carry on with as a hobby. It was shortly after this I bought some low grade opal through a local rock shop for a project I was involved in. I became hooked.
So I decided to eliminate the middle man and buy my opal directly from suppliers in Australia and that is when I became acquainted with Murray Willis and his Australian Opal Mines.
At first I bought low grade opal because for one thing I was not aware of the difference and for another, because of the cost. However, as I went along, Murray Willis and his Australian Opal Mines would send me “on approval” parcels that were somewhat better than the opal I had ordered. It usually wound up I would keep the “on approval” parcel and send my original order back.
It also became increasingly evident that I had a market for my better grades of stone – where I was giving away my low grade stones as gifts, I now had people wanting to buy my opals. In truth, my hobby was costing me nothing, it was now paying for itself. I personally have no desire to get involved on a true commercial scale, because I had 32 years of commercial life, however, the possibilities are truly there.
I have shown my opals at various shows, and in doing so, I have met a good number of jewellers and manufacturing jewellers, one of which invited me to sit with him in his shop and he would teach me how to make gold and silver jewellery – which invitation I gladly accepted, and for a year and a half of my life, he showed me how to make jewellery – which as part of my hobby is a very important part of my life.
Mr Murray Willis, whilst on an opal selling trip to the USA, came to my home and told me I should do some trading with my opals and if I didn’t, I was missing a bet.
I thought about that and decided I would try this. Another part of my life is hunting. My old hunting dog had just died, so I was able to trade a very nice pendant to a known breeder of dogs and I became the owner of a Labrador hunting pup, value $450.00. I named him Mintubi Sam.
Another one of my trades – just before Christmas I was showing my opals (as a private collection) at a very large Christmas Indoor Bazaar. In the booth next door to me was a lady who was selling gold jewellery – she became interested in my opals and suggested a trade, opals for gold.
As I had just finished making a beautiful pendant for my wife for Christmas, I knew my wife was in the market for a gold chain so I was in full agreement.
My wife came to the Bazaar and without telling her I had made a pendant, I told her of the gold lady’s arrangement with me and invited her to get a chain. After she had her chain, the person who was sharing the booth with me explained fully to my wife that it was trade for trade – my wife spent about three hours more at the gold lady’s store – I thought I was going to have to mortgage the farm! However, my opals paid for all and it was great. My wife has more gold now than in all her life before – she loves it – and so do I.
My dog now needed some hunting training – I called some kennels and I talked to the trainer’s wife. She was interested in an opal pendant – I took some out, gave her her choice and wound up with a $600.00 two month hunting lesson for my dog. All because of my opals.
Murray Willis phoned a short while ago and I expressed my desire to go to Australia but I couldn’t afford it. He told me – “George, you’re rich, compared to the rest of the world.” It was true. I had enough opals and enough money, I could go to Australia! I told my wife I wanted to go and she thought it was great, and I am now writing this letter while sitting in a dug out living room in Coober Pedy, the opal capital of the world.
My opals have opened up a whole new aspect of my life. They have paid for themselves, for all my equipment, for a great deal of my pleasure and I still have a good number of jewels that will do nothing else but go up in value. No way you can beat that.
Thank you Murray Willis.