“Whitsunday Opals and Didgeridoos” is a second generation family owned and operated business that spans from a passion originating more than half a century ago.
"I saw opals for the first time in London in 1959 and developed a passion that has never left me to this day and never will, it has coloured all the days of my life" comments father Tony Andreou.
Together with his wife Suzanne they first headed out to the Sapphire mines of Anakie and Emerald in the late 60’s then Lightning Ridge, Coober Pedy and Queensland Opal mines soon after in 1971. Since then they never looked back.
Before long they were wheeling and dealing, buying opal mines and loose stones and selling wherever they could to support their growing family of six boys (Anthony, Dean, Chris, Alex, Isaac and Imran) and later their only girl Sofia.
“I remember being dragged around from opal mine to sapphire mine, living out of a Panel van, swapping opals for other gems, accommodation, food, whatever we needed to get by...It was a tough life in those days but WOW! What an adventure and what an education.” Comments son and manager Alex Andreou.
“We learnt at a young age how to cut opals, how to sell and how to survive under any circumstances...My parents still laugh about me stealing their customers at 5 years old!”...Ha ha!
Over the years, the Andreou’s have had businesses in Sydney, Cairns, Coolangatta, Mermaid Beach and Byron Bay before finally settling in Airlie Beach 16yrs ago.
“Later in the 90’s, I met my wife Danielle, an Aboriginal lady from the Wiradjuri Tribe of New South Wales. Since then Aboriginal art has also become an integral part of our business. I just had to learn how to play Didgeridoo” says Alex.
Each of the family members have played their part and added their own personality and touch of Insanity to contribute to the success of Whitsunday Opals.
Chris took the lead in Opal cutting then everyone had a go. Isaac paved the way to jewellery design and customisation and Sofia took it into the new age of Computer animated CAD design whilst Dean was the reliable backbone keeping everyone in line.
Today, Whitsunday Opals is an Airlie Beach institution being one of its longest standing local businesses.
“Customisation is our specialty. Hand select your own gemstone and have our family custom design your own unique piece of jewellery”
“tell us your travel experience and have award winning Aboriginal artists paint your story on a Didgeridoo or canvas painting with free airmail worldwide.”
It’s a blast, we have a Didgeridoo lesson at the shop everyday at 5pm!
Come and meet the family and see one of Australia’s greatest collections of gems, Aboriginal art and jewellery.
“Its not just a job to us, our work is a part of our heritage and that is the passion that we look forward to sharing with you.”
.....The Andreou Opal Family