Ripe Red Tomatoes

For several years of my mining at Mintabie Opal fields I had a Korean mining partner.
He joined Robert and I when we decided to go opal mining on a full time basis. Kim was regarded as one of the best underground opal miners at Mintabie. Several years older then us he was still very fit and well able to work the long arduous hours that Robert and I were accustomed to.

Kim and Robert

Kim and Robert (Kim is in the baseball hat)

Kim had a claim in the middle of the old field of Mintabie. It had several levels with the deepest well over 80 feet His claim was surrounded by several successful and producing opal mines.This claim was bought into the partnership and everything including opal claims, costs and opal were to be equally shared. His claim had been worked by other miners a couple of years previous but they had pulled their pegs after only a few months mining and moved on.

Kim was deeply religious and sent most of the money he made from opal mining back to Korea to help build a church.

We kept telling him to build his own house in Sydney first and then send the rest over for the church. Many years later Kim had to retire for medical reasons. He did not have his house but the church had theirs. I hope the good lord compensates Kim in the next life.

Kim used to dream. He would spend a lot of time analyzing his dreams and extracting relevant information to relate to his life. In particular he would try and decipher particular dreams to help his opal mining and use the sub-conscious to find him more opal. We were used to these discussions and would often offer interpretations to help. Mainly though, they were entertaining and a fun thing to talk about and pass the long boring hours when there was no opal and little trace.

Opal from Kim's Ripe Red Tomato Pocket

Opal from Kim’s Ripe Red Tomato Pocket

Robert had gone home to Corowa for a break and Kim and I were alternating between his opal mine and a mine we were working near Mintabie’s water supply.

One morning on the way to work Kim says, “I had a strange dream last night! I dreamt we were diving through crystal clear water and picking these ripe red tomatoes!” There was not much I could say about that so we continued to walk to the mine. We both went down the shaft to check the blasts before starting to pull the dirt.

In one drive our blast had broken through into the end of an old drive that had been dug by the previous opal miners. There was a very small hole in the bottom corner of our drive. After we cleared the dirt away with our hands we peered through the hole with our hand held light. The last lot of dirt was still in the drive from the previous miners and they had obviously not even bothered to check it. This old drive was a few feet deeper then our drive and it had filled up with water. We could see, through the shimmering crystal clear water, pieces of brilliant opal scattered all over the dirt.

Opal from Kim's Ripe Red Tomato Pocket

Opal from Kim’s Ripe Red Tomato Pocket

The last lot of explosives the miners had set had blown out dirt up to a seam of vertical opal (Opal that forms in a vertical seam rather then the more common horizontal seam opal) This vertical had fallen out on top of the dirt and left the opal scattered all over the place.

So we reached in through the crystal clear water and picked out the bright red (and green, yellow, orange and blue) pieces of exquisite crystal opal rough.

This parcel became known to us as Kim’s ripe red tomato pocket. It contained over 60 ounces of top quality crystal opal in pieces about two centimeters thick. I still have a few pieces of this memorable opal rough and occasionally take them out to reminisce or show interested people.

There are many other dream incidents of Kim such as his apricot tree but that story later.


I am at present putting all these stories and opal adventures into a book and some of these will find their way to our website

1 Comment on “Ripe Red Tomatoes

  1. My wifes engagement ring came from the ripe red tomato seam and is truly a thing of great beauty (much like my wife). Its not a particularly large or showy ring but no matter where we go the ring attracts much admiration.
    I thoroughly recommend anyone considering a jewelry purchase of any kind to call in to Mineshaft located in the Canberra Center and have a chat with Peter the owner and miner of many of many of the opals he still sells. He is a most interesting and courteous gentleman and will amaze you with his tales of the old mining days without any pressure to purchase.

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