From the extreme to the extraordinary, Australia’s harsh and remote outback is a brutal and ever-changing beast, particularly in the battle for its most precious gemstone – opal. The blood, sweat and tears don’t always pay off, but in the massive fifth season of Outback Opal Hunters coming next month all that is about to change. The hit series follows six opal-hungry teams across three states on their quest to find a fortune. It’s a lucky start to the season for some when one team finds $120,000 worth of opal in a day, while another uncovers the most valuable single piece of opal in the history of the series.
This season, the opal mission continues for The Bushmen – Rod Manning & Les Walsh (Sheepyards, NSW); The Cheals – father and sons Chris, Oscar, and Rory Cheal with family friend Farren Lamb (Lightning Ridge, NSW); The Young Guns – Jaymin Sullivan, Noah McDonough & James ‘JC’ Caruana (White Cliffs, NSW); Pete & Sam (formerly known as The Bros) – Pete Cooke & Sam Westra; and The Boulder Boys – Aaron Grotjahn & Ron Selig (Opalton, QLD).
The introduction of new team The Blacklighters – Paul Coon, Mark I’Anson & John Nassar sees the series return to opal mecca Coober Pedy, SA. With a huge extended family to support, the team must find opal to survive, using their giant, custom-made noodling machine “Opalzilla” and black light technology to scour the old fields for Coober Pedy’s fluorescent opal – but will mechanical failure spell disaster for the new crew?
This season opens with dramatic scenes for The Bushmen, as their lease is flooded by torrential rain that poses a threat to Rod’s home and his safety. After a horrific accident left Les with burns across his body last season, Rod continues to fuel the opal dream alone until his return. Could a new partnership on the promising Ploughboy claim change their luck? The Young Guns hope digging out a dangerous mine will be worth the risk, and with new mining gear in tow, they might be right. Meanwhile, Pete & Sam deliberate and debate about a decision that could cost them thousands of dollars, and Boulder Boys and The Cheals potentially find rich opal levels that could see dreams become a reality.
Outback Opal Hunters rides the gamut of human emotion; from unimaginable highs as life-changing discoveries are made, to bust ups, heartbreak and defeat. But these crews know all too well that once opal fever sets in, there’s no escaping it and will push their bodies, bank accounts and willpower to the limit.
With 90 percent of the world’s opal found in the Australian outback, and worth up to 500 times more than gold, a single piece can fetch a million dollars. Clinging tightly to the dream they could be just one pick strike away from becoming millionaires, our crews will face backbreaking work, searing heat and lonely isolation. Only those miners with a rare combination of grit, ingenuity and a good luck will prevail.
Outback Opal Hunters is produced by Prospero Productions for Discovery with assistance of the State Government of Western Australia, Screenwest and Lotterywest. To date, the series has entertained audiences in more than 100 countries and territories, including the US and the UK.
Outback Opal Hunters Thursdays from 8 October at 7:30pm AEDT on Discovery