An Interview with René Boissevain the Agate Adventurer and
Creator of “The Crystal Caves” Museum in Tropical North
By Matthew Sirpis
M – Hi René
R – Hi Matthew
M – Could you tell us a bit about your Crystal Caves museum and
the Agates Australia business?
R – Sure no problem. The Crystal Cave museum is in the first place
for the family, who never new much about the natural treasures from
deep down in the earth.
I started this unusual cave-museum to create awareness.
For most people these natural mineralogical wonders, as beautiful and
sometimes bizarre as they are, are totally new to them. The same people
know about the natural wonders of the sea and they know about animals
and rainforest…but have overlooked the incredible wonder world
The concept of a cave museum was not something I’ve seen anywhere
else. If you want to bring crystallized minerals closer to the general
public you have to come up with an unusual concept. We know that most
of the general public will not go to the mineralogical section of a
museum, they think it is boring. Sometimes the emphasis is too much
about soils, granites, basalts, quartz formations etc. Of course there
are museums world wide that have incredible collections of natural crystals.
(Washington’s Smithsonian Institute’s mineralogical section,
to name the ultimate!)
With the creation of a Cave-Museum, I’m not aiming at a particular
group of people, it’s for everyone, also disabled people are catered
for and kids just love it, it’s a fairytale come true. This fantasy
world, incorporated with an adventurous aspect, is as close as you can
get to some of the real underground caves. We give people that special
feeling of going underground, to explore and at the same time admire
and touch many of the crystals and also fossils that are on display.
Although there are hundreds of spotlights through-out this labyrinth
people must wear a helmet with light attached to find the hidden ones,
specially placed to discover .The atmosphere inside is very tranquil
and peaceful and not eerie at all. The sound of running water is very
Often I replace specimens if I can obtain a better one, thus upgrading
the value of the collection every year. The collection now is one of
Australia’s most spectacular ones. You can also visit the website
at http://www.crystalcaves.com.au/ .
M – What kind of mineral specimens do you have in the museum?
R – There is a huge variety, but I’m not into the very rare
ones that are not attractive. We only have the more spectacular formations.
They must be eye pleasing in the first place. There are about 600 different
crystallized minerals in there, of which the amethyst geodes, clear
quartz crystal formations and calcites are the most well known specimens.
We are not a typical spiritual crystal shop, although this very peaceful
movement worldwide fascinates many people. For those who worship crystals,
this is paradise.
I personally want to show you the variety, structures and sheer beauty
The more detailed and fragile specimens are smaller and behind glass,
while the larger and more common specimens are free standing so people
can touch and feel them, which is highly appreciated, as you can read
in our visitor’s book.
We really have opened eyes of a lot of people to the natural world of
minerals. We’ve got proof that many of our visitors will now,
for the first time, have a look at their own mineral museum, back home.
Knowing that is very rewarding.
M – Tell us about the Agates Australia business.
R – It’s an online shop where people can purchase the agates
I dug up at Agate Creek in the 1960’s. I stockpiled a lot of agates
from Agate Creek in Queensland. In those years, although hard work,
and millions of flies, agates were still plentiful. After cutting the
potato-size agates, we find that only about 30% of these agates have
nice patterns, are not fractured or with a crystal centre.
M – Is the Agate Creek agate a banded agate?
R – Yes some are banded agates and some are sardonyx. Some have
small quartz crystal centres and some have all 3. Sometimes a pattern
of agate comes back into that crystal centre and is called “suspended”
agate; they can be very beautiful indeed.
There are many names for agates if they have unusual patterns and colours
and names, like tube, cloud, eye, sea-scape, flame, lace, stalactitic,
sagenitic, vein-agates and many more.
M – The Fairburn agate, the Western Lake Superior agate, and the
freeform Oregon agates are popular in America, how would you compare
them to the Agate Creek agates in terms of beauty.
R – Although our agates are of potato sizes, they have more variety
in patterns and colours than the Fairburn agate, the Western Lake Superior
agate and the Oregon agates and a lot of other agates for that matter.
M – What do you think about the Laguna agate?
R – Undoubtedly the Laguna agate is the most beautiful agate in
the world. Although the Agate Creek agate is smaller it certainly deserves
second place. But then again many collectors worldwide are obsessed
with certain types of agates. It’s good for these people to also
look at the Australian agates; it would be a real eye opener. You can
see pictures of the agates and also buy them at our online store at
M – Thanks for your time René.
R – Pleasure Matthew.