Dad was interested in fossiking, he had many books and a tatty old guide to all the good treasure spots around Australia. We often did road trips that involved finding all sorts of semi-precious stones and crystals from searching for Tourmaline at Mount Crawford forest to the Sapphire fields at Inverell.
As a result all of the family were involved in this quest whether they liked it or not. I happened to love everything about it, from the finding of the dirt covered treasures, to my own little stone pick and my pink suede Akubra, which I wore far too much judging from the pictures I still have!
At the age of 13 I was allowed to attend (with dad) a TAFE course run by Murray Thompson on Opal cutting. I was hooked. I loved the machines, the sound of the saw cutting the slabs, the particular smell that filled the classroom when you mix the silicon with the water as the opal is ground down.
Dad bought a combination Gemasta machine and a trim saw and set it up in the shed up the back and you couldn't get me off it whilst the daylight still shone through the door.
The following year I did another course with dad for cutting gemstones and was introduced to the world of black jade/nephrite, tiger iron and agate along with many other stones. I was in heaven and knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
So whilst my friends at high school were deciding if they'd become either nurses or teachers, I left school at 15 and went straight into a course that ran lapidary as part of their jewellery certificate.