Opal miner James Caruana, best known for appearing on six seasons of Discovery channel’s Outback Opal Hunters, will trade the remote mining fields of White Cliffs for the packed streets of Sydney when he joins thousands for the world’s largest fun run, City2Surf, on Sunday 14 August.
Twenty-five-year-old James, or JC as he prefers, is hoping to stand out from the crowd by running the iconic 14km City2Surf course dressed from head to toe in mining gear – complete with a hardhat and steel-toe boots.
JC has found fame thanks his to underground adventures and by running City2Surf in his mining gear, he is hoping to gain attention above ground with the aim of raising thousands of dollars for charity through opal sales during the months of July and August.
“We’ve got a pretty big following from the Outback Opal Hunters show and a pretty decent following online, we’re kind of always in our mining gear and that’s how people know us, so my idea was that if I ran City2Surf in my mining gear a lot more people would be able to see it and see some young buffoon running in mining gear, and they might be more willing to give a bit to charity,” said JC.
Though JC’s home is in Phegans Bay on the Central Coast, he spends eight months of the year in the remote mining town of White Cliffs alongside his two friends and business partners, Jaymin Sullivan and Noah McDonough, working in a harsh and extreme environment as they search for opal worth thousands of dollars.
Through their online business, the Young Guns as they’re known sell the opal they find as cut gems or jewellery. JC says during the months of July and August, a percentage of business sales will be donated to a charity of the purchaser’s choice.
“From the start of July until the event, anyone who purchases cut opal stones or jewellery, 20% of their purchase will be donated to a charity of their choice,” said JC.
“Our idea is that we’ll donate a percentage to whichever charity they want. I think giving people the freedom to choose their own charity makes them a lot more willing to give which is pretty cool,” he said. “There will be a lot of purchases that happen in the next couple of months with people that don’t really know where to donate, so in that case we’ll donate that 20% to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, because that’s one of the charities I’ve actually had a run in with.”
As well as running City2Surf on 14 August in his mining gear, JC will be putting together a series of videos of him training in his gear to share with the Young Guns’ nearly 200,000 TikTok followers and 18,000 YouTube subscribers.
Though the Young Guns run a successful business and have appeared on six seasons of Outback Opal Hunters, the three friends have only been opal mining for the past four years, with almost no prior experience.
Jaymin is from a family of opal miners and in 2018 he moved to White Cliffs to see what it was all about. A few months later, after Noah’s business was destroyed in a fire and JC’s gardening work slowed during the winter, the two mates headed out to White Cliffs to visit Jaymin. While there they decided to go for a dig and to their delight, the trio unearthed a pocket of opal worth $10,000 on their first attempt.
“We were kind of less than enthusiastic about going this little desert place in the middle of nowhere with nothing around but eventually me and my mate did a trip out there, it took 17 and half hours on public transport to get out there,” said JC. “On the last afternoon of the few days we ended up going for a little jackhammer just to check it out and we found a $10,000 pocket of opal, and so that was a bit of a buzz straight away.”
Bitten by the bug, eventually the boys decided to move out to White Cliffs to try and make a living out of opal mining. Starting out with a small operation, with more opal finds they began to expand their business and attracted the attention of Outback Opal Hunters. The show follows a number of opal mining operations throughout Australia and the exploits of the miners as they strive to find fortune.
JC has forged his own path over the past four years, but in taking part in City2Surf he will be following in the footsteps of his parents, with both his mum and dad keen runners who have completed multiple City2Surf’s.
“I've never done City2Surf before but my mum and dad both have done it over the years. My mum was actually a seeded runner for three years and I forget, but I think she came top ten one of the years,” said JC. “Mum was a real gun runner and that's always been a goal of mine. My dad’s done it as well, he was also a good runner back in the day, not competitive or anything at all, but he did pretty well.
“My personal goal is going in and getting a pretty good time. I did a couple of 14km runs and I’ve always really loved it and running City2Surf is a good way to use myself and my body to hopefully raise money for people, which I think is really cool,” he said.
City2Surf is returning to the streets of Sydney on Sunday 14 August, taking participants through the iconic 14km course that starts in the city’s CBD and finishes at the famous Bondi Beach. Usually attracting over 80,000 participants, the event has been run virtually during the past two COVID-affected years but is to set to return to its full glory next month.
From now until 14 August, visit www.etsy.com/au/shop/YoungGunsOpalHunters and use the code City2Surf to receive a 10% discount on purchases with 20% of the sale donated to charity.