During my time at Mintabie Opal Fields crystal healing and crystal metaphysical work was just beginning to become popular. This is a true story of an incident we experienced and the aftermath of it.
We were having one of our opal claims cut by a giant D9 bulldozer. Whilst the bulldozer was pushing out the dirt after each floor rip, we were hand mining a nearby claim in what is now known as Crystal Valley.The claim belonged to Ray, the bulldozer driver and the three of us had equal shares but Robert and I did the bulk of the work.
Robert and I were underground checking out a little bit of trace. When underground you can hear quite clearly conversations that are taking place above ground We began to hear this awful wailing.
It was like someone that has received bad news and wails uncontrollably. Robert says, “Oh shit, someone must have hurt themselves so we better go up and see!” When we reached the surface we looked across at the adjoining claim to see this character bent over from the waist swinging something on the end of a piece of string over the ground. From his mouth came this awful wailing noise. Robert looked at me and I looked at Robert. Roberts says, “I think I better go and ask him what he is doing.” We wandered across and when the wailing stopped for a second Robert gingerly asks the guy what is going on. The guy turns and smiles at us and says,”Oh, everything is fine mate; I’m just helping me mate find opal pockets on his claim.” Well this had us intrigued, even if it was just for the theatrical value of the performance. Robert bravely says, “Do you reckon you could come across to our claim and find our pockets for us?” Robert then turns to me and winked. “Sure”, says the guy, “I’ll come over as soon as I finish here.”
His tool for finding the pockets consisted of a quartz crystal attached to a length of string. His method was to walk slowly in a grid pattern across the claim twirling the crystal a few inches above the ground anti clockwise and wailing. Apparently he received vibrations and messages of some type when he crossed over the pockets. He obviously took it very seriously as it took him about an hour to check out our claim. He told us that he could get lots of signals but only one area indicated a pocket of opal. He showed us the spot and we never saw him again. We hammered a stick in the ground and went back to work.
A couple of days later Robert says, “You know that pocket is only a couple of days work off our main drive! Do you reckon we oughta go and have a look?” Well opal is a strange thing so I said, “Well, we have nothing to loose and the least it will do is satisfy our curiosity”. So the next day we headed straight for where the metaphysical pocket was supposed to be. Two days later we started to get potch. The potch became thicker and we started to get excited. We were obviously in the middle of a large pocket of opal but despite our hopes we were not to find a single piece of opal with color. We told Ray about the incident and showed him the peg in the ground and the area underground where we dug out the potch. We all agreed that it was worth the effort and for all the guys wailing we had to admit he was spot on. We at least had a good after dinner story to tell.
I had forgotten about this incident until many years later when I returned to Mintabie to go in a ballot for some claims. The airport had finally been relocated because it was bang smack in the middle of some prime opal country. Extremely good claims had produced a lot of opal on both sides of the airport reserve. There were some potentially brilliant claims up for grabs so even though I had finished mining at Mintabie I returned to try my luck in the ballot along with many other opal miners.
I ran into Ray and he says, “Remember that wailer who found the potch pocket on the claim at crystal valley a few years ago? Well I decided to work the lower level (About 10 feet lower than the level we worked). On impulse I drove under the potch pocket that you boys found. You know there was a big pocket of precious opal directly under the potch pocket! It was beautiful opal and really unusual because it had a lot of purple mixed with the reds. I had no trouble selling it because it was really different and very pretty stuff.”
Robert and I found quite a few tiny pockets on Rays claim. They were all about the size of a saucer and each yielded about 5 to 10 ounces of very nice opal. The claim was quite profitable for us even though we didn’t find true pockets other then the potch.
So perhaps the Wailer really did know something and we were to miss the only large pocket by going over the top of it. You be the judge.