A family holiday to New South Wales more than 50 years ago sparked a fire inside of Mae Geddes which inspired her to spend decades collecting gems and minerals.
Mae, 92, is one of Bundaberg Gem and Mineral Club’s founding members, and she holds treasured memories of the local organisation.
“Since early in the year in 1967 I have been a member, and the club started in 1966 by Bill Moores,” she said.
“Before this time on a family holiday to New South Wales, we stopped at a rock place and this was my first inkling that there were rocks out there that were more valuable than road rocks,” Mae said.
“During my time I have made thousands of pieces, I used to take up 12-foot of space at Gemfairs, and I could fill that space, and more, with all the stuff I had made, from ornaments to novelties and jewellery.
“I can’t do that anymore as age has beat me, but I still enjoy going along to the Gemfair each year.”
Born in Childers and spending her early years growing up at Booyal, Mae said by the time she went to school for the first time, at Gooburrum, she was nearly nine years old, and she believed learning each day helped her with her longevity.
Now, at 92, age really is no barrier for Mae as she catches a taxi to the Bundaberg Gem Club each week to share her vast knowledge about lapidary and jewellery making with younger members.
“I’ve held every position except president; I’ve been treasurer, vice-president, librarian, secretary but never I’ve never sat in the president's chair as I didn’t aspire to that,” Mae said.
“I only had four years of education, as we lived out in the bush and too far away from school to go.
“My grannie taught me to write – we couldn’t afford paper and pencils, so she put a scarf in a bloodwood tree and got the red sap that leaks out of a bloodwood tree and dissolved it in water.
“She got a sharp stick and taught me to write on the wrappers of the newspaper.
“Now, I try to help people to stop them making the mistakes I made when I was learning about gems and jewellery.
“There are still new rocks being found – so you can always keep learning.”
In the thousands of pieces Mae has made during her time at Bundaberg Gem and Mineral Club, there are a few precious treasures she has had the privilege of creating.
“I made three pieces for my grandchildren’s weddings,” she said.
“For my eldest granddaughter when she got married, I made a comb to hold her hair, but it was nothing compared to the one I made her sister when she got married as she sent me a design.
“I had remarks from people saying ‘whoa, now that’s a piece of jewellery’.
“Then I made a full coronet for my grandson’s wife, and she has had it valued at $1500 – when you know where and what to buy it didn’t cost anything like that to make.”
With her 50-plus years of history making beautiful jewellery and stones, Mae said she was looking forward to attending this year’s Bundaberg Gemfair to see what new items she could find.