For most 77-year-olds, retirement consists of slowing down and a change of scenery, but Katherine’s Geoff Routley has turned his childhood hobby into a second career.
Mr Routley has been collecting rare rocks around Australia for 30 years and turned his huge collection of treasures into a tourism wonderland.
The avid collector has been interested in gems and precious rocks since he was a boy.
“My grandfather was a gold miner and I used to follow him around all day like a dog,” Mr Routley said.
NT Rare Rocks opened in 1993 after Mr Routley moved to town to work in tropical crops and pastures with CSIRO.
Rocks and gems of the outback are transformed into vases, jewelry, coffee tables and book ends.
“I got the idea from a man from Kununurra with a similar set up,” Mr Routley said
During the dry season, Mr Routley welcomes up to a hundred cars of eager travelers into his home and workshop, to demonstrate how he transforms rocks into works of art.
“I get bus loads in the dry season, and about three or four cars a week during the wet which keeps me busy,” he said.
“It’s only work if you think of it like that.”
He's particularly interested in discovering rare specimens across the Top End where new and interesting deposits are still being unearthed.
“I call up the mining department to find out if there are any rocks around that I can pick up.”
“My favourite in the collection is the zebra rock, its beautiful,” he said.
Kununurra and the Kimberley Region are the only places in the world you can find the estimated 600 million year old zebra rocks.
A carpenter and joiner by trade, Mr Routley’s collection includes ancient rocks, Lightning Ridge opals and malachite rock from Rum Jungle.
Rum Jungle, an old uranium mine near Batchelor, was named after a thief stole 750 ounces of gold from miners after getting them drunk with rum.
Mr Routley said he still loves what he does, and has no plans of slowing down just yet.