Australia and its climatical variety
Australia is a continent of extremes. This is particularly exemplified by its climate. Ranging from temperatures which can go below 32°F (0°C) in the mountains around Melbourne, southern Australia, or above 102°F (39°C) in the Kimberley region in the northwest.
Due to its size, the continent does not have a single seasonal calendar. Instead, Australia is categorized into six different climatic zones. At the tip of the northern parts, the climate is “Equatorial” with a horizontal line of “Tropical” climate right below. The Mideast is characterized by a subtropical climate and the south by a more “Temperate” environment. The core is a “Desert” surrounded by “Grassland”.
“Our travel to Lightning Ridge led us into the ring of “Grassland” that goes through the state New South Wales. Around Sydney, the place we started our journey, we encountered steep ocean cliffs. A little further north, we discovered the lush vegetation of the Blue Mountains and its eucalyptus trees. The landscape can change quite dramatically,” recalls Stefan Kreis
Trails off the beaten path
Except for the main roads entering and leaving Lightning Ridge, there are no paved streets in sight. The roads off the beaten path are covered in a brown-reddish dust. Winds from the adjacent desert carry the dust towards Lightning Ridge. Further, signs are of no help either. That is if one can find some. Roads leading towards the mining fields are the product of necessity, rather than planning. People drive between mining claims as the natural constraints allow it and thus roads form.
“We usually meet up with a miner at an easy to find meeting-point. We then drive together to his mining operation. Otherwise, one will be lost in the labyrinth of roads. I remember driving back from a mine and the miner was driving in front of us to guide us. Suddenly we came to a halt at a crossroads and we all got out of the cars. He then told us that he wasn’t sure which way to go. So we basically flipped a coin and drove on one road for a couple of miles until he realized that it was the other one. And he has been living and working there for decades. Getting lost is really easy and can happen faster than one might realize,” tells Alexander Kreis.
Luck in the pursuit of the exceptional – The Bedarra Opal
The sporadic occurrence of opal induces a high degree of luck in the pursuit of these gemstones. “Miners need to be very tough. It is a physically demanding work and success is the result of a combination of perseverance and luck,” tells Alexander Kreis, a gemologist at KREIS. He continues, “unbeknown to us, one of the miners we planned on visiting had just found an extraordinary black opal. Once we saw its full display of color we immediately thought of James Cook, and hence named it the Bedarra Opal.”
Originally on a mission to observe and document the eclipse of the planet Venus, the English naval officer Captain James Cook sailed through a group of islands located in the northeast of Australia. Traveling on the HMS Endeavor, one of the first islands the Englishmen encountered and charted was one of the Family Isles, namely Bedarra Island. By doing so, Captain Cook started to chart the Great Barrier Reef in the year 1770.
“The Great Barrier Reef encompasses around 3000 individual reefs and ~100 islands, and the Bedarra Island was one of the first islands to be discovered. Bedarra Island is characteristic for white sandy beaches, a tropical flora, and crystal clear waters. It truly is a piece of heaven on earth. The unique pattern of green and blue in combination with the extraordinary size of the Bedarra Opal is an apt reminder of the sheer luck of discovery and beauty of the largest coral reef system in the world,” reports Alexander Kreis.