Brother and sister Isaac and Sofia Andreou were on the team that landed the biggest biggest find in Outback Opal Hunters history, and it was the duo’s first time digging for opals!
“It was a mixture of shock and just pure amazement,” Sofia told the Daily Mail last year, after finding the seven-digit windfall.
“Words cannot describe the way the heart beats, hairs standing up on end,” said Isaac.
The Andreou siblings had worked with opals before but hadn’t hunted for them.
Isaac and Sofia teamed up on the hunt with Chris Duff, Sofia’s partner, and David Darby, their friend, and they got an assist from local miner Rod Griffin.
Though Isaac and Sofia hadn’t hunted for opals before, they did have connections to the precious stone. Isaac, a single dad, is an opal cutter and seller based in Byron Bay, Australia. And Sofia runs an opal shop on Australia’s Whitsunday Islands when she isn't teaching music or yoga.
The team braved “super-harsh elements” in the outback.
As the Daily Mail reports, opals are worth up to 500 times more than gold, and the Australian outback is home to 90 percent of these rare finds. But the outback isn’t the most hospitable of places.
“Australia is such a barren and tough country that all the animals that have managed to survive until now have had to evolve to be dangerous to protect themselves,” Sofia told the newspaper. “So you’re not just dealing with super-harsh elements, but some of the most dangerous species of animals in the entire world.”
They found $1.2 million of opals on their first hunt.
Isaac and Sofia’s “Opal Whisperers” team decided to look for opals near Yowah, a town of 141 residents located about 11 hours west of Brisbane, Australia, by car. According to the Opal Whisperers website, Yowah has a local type of opal called the Yowah Nut, which is considered to be the rarest formation of opal in the world.
And on that debut hunt, Isaac and Sofia found $1.2 million of opals, including an egg-shaped stone the size of a human fist. “It’s literally every single color of a rainbow you can imagine to hold within your hand,” Sofia told the Daily Mail.
According to the newspaper, the average Outback Opal Hunters find is $18,000, though the Discovery Channel docuseries — which has aired since 2018 — has featured opal discoveries of up to $250,000. But the team's discovery is close to five times that amount.
“Valuation, I mean, it’s something that I’ve done since I was 11 years old. It’s always an exciting thing, usually,” Sofia said on the show, after the massive opal find. “But today, I would say that it was the first time in my opal career that I’ve ever intimidated by an opal collection. There was just so much there, and there was a lot of adrenaline and anxiety of where to start.”
Isaac told the Daily Mail that the million-dollar opal find could help the siblings buy their own mine and “will make life a hell of a lot easier and more enjoyable.”