TC Wollaston was from Port Lincoln, SA. Wollaston was working in sapphire mining when he caught wind of the opal deposits that were being discovered in Queensland. After securing investors in the nearby city of Adelaide, Wollaston departed Port Lincoln on 21 November, 1888 to travel to Queensland, via camel. When he arrived at a new mine by Kyabra Hills, he made the immediate decision to take on the lease and procure as many specimens as possible. Like Bond, Wollaston travelled to London, however, unlike Bond, Wollaston lacked showmanship and found it difficult to drum up interest in his opals. Wollaston decided to shift his focus to the jewellery market in the United States, and worked with wholesalers to have opals shipped to New York City, where they were well received.
In 1889, Wollaston’s luck changed when he became one of the first dealers to receive specimens from the newly minted mine at White Cliffs, NSW. He set out for White Cliffs soon after, staking claim. There, he met an agent, Edmund Francis Murphy, who would become the key to his success. Through Murphy’s connections, Wollaston formed a partnership with London wholesalers Hasluck Bros, who sold the White Cliff opals to New York and European jewellers, giving Wollaston the monopoly on Australian opals in the international market. At the turn of the century, Wollaston and Murphy would go on to be the first to introduce opals from the newest fields of Lightning Ridge and Coober Pedy into the industry, solidifying Australia as the opal capital of the world.
Click here for further reading on Tullie Cornthwaite Wollaston.
(2018). Of Frogs, Gold Bracelets, Opals, Ladies, and Queens. Australiana (4)2, 1-14.
State Library of South Australia. Tullie Cornthwaite Wollaston (1863-1931). [online] Available at: adb.anu.edu.au/biography/wollaston-tullie-cornthwaite-9169. [Accessed 27 Sept. 2021].