When you look at it on paper, it’s only two letters difference between Austria and Australia, but for Sunshine Coast’s Immo Stein, it means a whole lot more.
On Australia Day this year, Mr Stein will be commemorating fifty years in this great nation of ours, with half of that time spent pouring all of his talent, heart and soul into one of the Sunshine Coast’s most steadfast attractions – Opals Down Under.
As a Fitter by trade, a young Immo Stein embarked on a journey of a lifetime, leaving the cold Austrian Winter of 1961 behind, and landing on our great nation to seek out adventure, starting with work on the Snowy Mountains Scheme, before his journey brought him to the town of Andamooka, one of the opal-rich areas of South Australia.
For Immo, Australia Day resembles a new life – and new loves, not only with Australia’s precious opal, but also his wife Louise, who he met in Andamooka while trying his luck mining for potential millions, and enjoying the simple and hard-working lifestyle of the Australian Opal Fields.
“I may not have found the millions I was looking for, but the experiences I’ve gained, and the family I’ve nurtured with Louise are more precious than any opal I could have discovered in this great land,” he said.
“However, that rush – the opal fever – of unearthing an opal, or revealing a precious gem when cutting the raw material, I get such great enjoyment of knowing that the land in Australia can produce such magical stones’.
Fifty years on, Immo’s love (and obsession) with Australia’s National Gemstone has led him on an incredible path, becoming one of Australia’s more respected Opal Experts, starting Opals Down Under with his wife Louise, and most importantly, witnessing now three generations of Stein grow.