6/17/2000: Cooked breakfast between the camper and the B&B, showered and washed dishes. Met with Ed Radeka and headed for his claim in the well respected Olympic Field south west of Coober Pedy. Olympic was discovered in 1964 and is one of the largest producers of gem grade opal known for it’s stability. Amid the disorganized maze of mine shafts and mullock heaps we found Ed’s fathers old claim. At his shaft, we donned hard hats, and filled a drum full of lights (including a black light, as opal fluoresces a pale blue, under black light). Down we went 60’ climbing a ladder (rungs 1’ apart) down into a deep dark hole, 1 meter in diameter. Steve went first, Darlene second, and Ed third. We walked, crawled, and creeped our way through the tunnels examining, exploring, digging, and questioning. This shaft was excavated using explosives and picks without the benefit of modern tunneling machines. We used the black light to help us find traces of opal and though we didn’t find much, it was eye-opening, and revealed a new appreciation for the underground miners. In one location Steve asked Ed why the floor was so flat…Ed replied that the a slab in the ceiling must have recently come down…might be time to head up to the surface. Finally we came up the shaft, pulled up the ladder, hooked the trailer affair to the vehicle, and went to a late lunch.
We visited Ed’s mom at her home for a bit. She designs and creates gold settings for opals. Didn’t stay long as she has cats…and Steve is allergic to cats. Drove out to a miner’s home with Ed, he wasn’t home. Got some Benedryl for Steve and his allergies, and then back to Ed’s mom’s place. Lovely opal jewelry. Ed drove us by David Arnold’s place before taking us back to the dugout. Home by 6:00 P.M. Stopped by Joe and Anne’s place, but he wasn’t home. Plan to see the Breakaways Reserve tomorrow with Ed.