TABLELANDER – Tuesday January 12th 2010
“Ancient croc skulls snap up attention”
An unusual window display featuring fossilised crocodile skulls
as old as dinosaurs and 300 million year old sea creatures has been
stopping foot traffic in Atherton’s main street.
The rare objects have made their way from the Sahara desert of
Africa to The Crystal Caves where their display is attracting much
Owner and global collector Rene Boissevain has just released his
latest find to the public, and says the genuinely rare fossils are
snapped up by collectors worldwide.
“These Gavial crocodile skulls are between 65 and 144 million
years old, and are very scarce nowadays,” Mr Boissevain said.
“The species were the ancestors of the Nile crocodiles, and
most disappeared at the time of the dinosaurs at the end of the
“unlike modern crocodiles, their diet was exclusively small
fish, so their slender snouts were built for speed and manoeuvrability.”
Avid collectors of these extremely rare fossilised crocodile skulls
like to display their objects of art mounted and carefully backlit
in a trophy case created by an interior designer.
“Our croc skulls are from Southern Morocco, where we’ve uncovered
a new, exciting supplier who is a well qualified geologist.
“We purchased four, all that were available, and two of the
most outstanding of these are on display at The Crystal Caves,”
Mr Boissevain said.
“Direct importing means we avoid the middlemen, giving us
a super competitive pricing structure.”
As well as the croc skulls, Mr Boissevain’s latest shipment contained
some unique tables and bathroom sinks hand carved from slabs of
Sahara seabed fossil rock featuring sea creatures and shells over
300 million years old which are also featured in the striking window
CAIRNS AND THE REEF – ATTRACTIONS & TOURS DESTINATIONS
December / January 2009 / 2010 Edition
“More than just a rock shop”
What – The Crystal Cave, Ph: 4091 2365
Where – 69 Main St. Atherton www.crystalcaves.com.au
Cost – $20 Adults, $10 Children under 14, Children under four free,
“Not just a rock shop” is the catchphrase of a little
gem of a tourist attraction on the Atherton Tablelands. The Crystal
Caves, at 69 Main St. Atherton, offers a fascinating – and educational
- experience for the whole family. Created by Rene Boissevain, the
underground adventure museum takes visitors on an interactive self
guided tour through nine unique man made caves. Before setting off
into the caves, we are each given a miner’s helmet complete with
LED headlamp, and it’s wise to leave it on as the cave system can
get narrow with low ceilings. At first we notice only the obvious
crystal specimens right in front of us, but then we take a good
look around into the nooks and crannies of the caves and discover
hundreds more. Visitors are encouraged to touch and feel the crystals,
giant fossils, volcanic sculptures and dinosaur eggs, and cameras
are welcome. Each crystal is numbered so you can refer to your guide
book to find out what it is and where it comes from. The specimens
collected in this museum come from all around the world, making
it a very unique collection. Halfway through the tunnels we come
to a wide open chamber housing the Empress of Uruguay. This magnificent
amethyst geode has to be seen to be believed. More than three metres
tall and weighing two and a half tonnes, this is the biggest amethyst
geode in the world featuring tens of thousands of perfect deep purple
crystals. And it’s not behind a big sheet of glass either – you
can touch and photograph the Empress too. At the end of the journey
you can take part in a mini quiz which is purely for fun – not to
test your knowledge. Crystal Caves is a lot of fun, and great for
children who are also given a sample bag of interesting stones and
TABLELANDER – Tuesday November 17th 2009
The Crystal Caves and Fascinating Facets are celebrating the safe
return of their founder and owner, Rene Boissevain, from the wilds
of South America.
Fresh from six weeks in Uruguay, Brazil, Peru and Mexico, Rene
took the trip to explore and document the wonderful, but often quite
wild places that he has been buying amethyst, citrine and many other
semi precious gemstones from over the past 20 years. Although he
is on a first name basis with many of these suppliers, up until
now he has not actually seen some of the mines that the gemstones
actually come from.
“Many people are amazed to learn that semi precious gemstones
usually come from actual gem mines, rather than being found accidentally
or as a by product of other mining,” Rene explains.
“in South America, where many of the highest quality gems
come from, there are mines where they seek only amethyst for instance.”
Many of the mines that Rene visited are in some rather wild areas.
Fin the Andes Mountains of Peru, Rene visited one mine at the incredible
altitude of 5000m!
“The air was so short of oxygen at that altitude that just
walking was a huge effort,” Rene said. “Even the locals
who are used to these conditions need to take it easy.”
The highlight of Rene’s trip was definitely the familiarly named
“Crystal Cave” in Mexico. Here the caves have the largest
quartz crystals ever found, longer than a bus. This amazing place
is not open to the general public an so Rene was fortunate to gain
an initiation to visit through colleagues in the industry. Here,
deep under the ground the temperatures is a staggering 60C, so it’s
not possible to stay very long to see the sights. But according
to Rene the experience was worth all of the discomfort.
“This place is totally unique, and the size and the beauty
fo the crystals is simply breathtaking.”
As he usually does on his trips overseas, Rene was always on the
look out for new, different and exciting things to buy for display
at The Crystal Caves, and again as usual, he didn’t hold back. “I
bought some very special lapis lazuli pieces, amethyst crystal “flowers”,
some truly spectacular new crystal geodes and lots more as well,
and it’s all on its way here now!” he said.
THE CAIRNS POST – 21st October 2009
“Polar Jade reaches tropics”
Pieces of the world’s rarest jade have migrated all the way from
British Columbia to the Atherton Tableland, west of Cairns.
The lucrative nephrite is trademarked as “Polar Jade”
and prized as the hardest, greenest and most translucent of all
Polar Jade is mined in only two places on earth, both located in
the rugged mountains of Northern British Columbia, just east of
Now, a limited number of pieces have been incorporated into the
semi precious jewellery range at Fascinating Facets & The Crystal
Caves in Atherton.
“People associate nephrite jade with the Far East, where jade
has a special significance comparable to that of diamonds and gold
in the West, but the native American tribes of British Columbia
and the Alaska Natives both prized Polar Jade to fashion their tools
and artefacts.” Crystal Caves owner Rene Boissevain said.
Until steel was invented, nephrite jade was the strongest available
material for tools and weapons, being less brittle and better able
to keep a sharp edge than any other stone, or than copper, bronze
“Jade’s superior strength comes from the interlocking “felted”
nature of the tiny fibrous crystals within the matrix. Polar jade
was highly valued as it could be used for tough spears, hammers
and axes, yet could be carved in exquisitely delicate bowls, figurines,
masks and jewellery items,” said Mr Boissevain.
Among the range of Polar Jade items at Fascinating Faces are earrings,
necklaces, pendants, carvings and polished stones.
Samples of the jade are available for purchase from $5.50 for polished
stones. Jewellery and carvings are priced from about $45.
MEDIA INFORMATION – 19 May 2009
“Half Tonne Treasure Chest Direct From Tucson Now On Display”
Rene Boissevain, creator and founder of The Crystal Caves in Atherton,
together with his manager Jim Russell recently embarked on a two
week buying trip to the Tucson Gem Show in Arizona, US; returning
home with a half tonne treasure chest of rare gemstones, crystals,
fossils and jewellery.
According to Mr Russell, their Tucson treasure is now on display
which he says is a magnificent collection not yet seen in North
“While some of the extra special pieces have been created
into the Crystal Caves themselves, the remaining gems are now on
display in the gift shop,” he said.
The Tucson Gem show is the biggest and most comprehensive show
of its kind in the world, with miners, wholesalers and collectors
from every continent showing off their very best gems each day for
the two week duration of the event.
The show effectively takes over the whole city of Tucson, Arizona,
with every conference centre and accommodation house playing host
to the exhibitors and buyers.
Mr Russell said they were amazed at the very competitive prices
being offered at the show this year.
“With increased international competition among vendors this
year in Tucson, we were able to purchase many items – from beautiful
Malachite carvings, rare stibnite crystals and even Australia Opals
- at the lowest prices we have ever seen. And as a result, have
been able to pass the savings on in our gift shop,” he said.
The new stock and exhibits are expected to continue following The
Crystal Caves recent success with visitor numbers this year which
recorded much higher traffic than any previous records and still
Mr Boissevain said he believes this success is partly down to the
fame of Crystal Caves’ prime attraction, the biggest Amethyst geode
in the world, known to visitors as The Empress of Uruguay.
“Since being introduced into our collection last year, the
Empress of Uruguy, word is rapidly spreading, with people from far
and wide becoming aware of what a truly breathtaking sight she is.
To find out more about Tucson Gem Show visit:
COAST & COUNTRY – 29th September, 2008
“A Glittering Occasion”
The sparkle and colour of crystals and minerals makes a visit to
a remarkable museum in northern Queensland a more than out-of-the-ordinary
occasion, writes Clea Stapleton.
Queensland is renowned for its awe-inspiring natural attractions.
From the Great Barrier Reef to its lush tropical rainforests, the
“Sunshine State” has much to offer the lover of natural
wonders. But for an entirely different perspective, the Crystal
Caves in Atherton in northern Queensland offer an experience without
parallel in Australia.
This underground museum, displaying a breathtaking collection of
minerals and fossils, was created by Dutch husband and wife team
Rene and Nelleke Boissevain. Rene boasts a life full of travel and
adventure having served with the Dutch Special Forces in Irian Jaya,
pursued crocodile hunting in the Barkly Tablelands, and worked on
a tobacco farm in Atherton. His passion for crystals was “unearthed”
when a friend took him prospecting for agates near Georgetown in
Queensland’s Gulf Country.
Renes love for mineralogical specimens flourished in the hot and
harsh conditions of the agate fields, and when the Boissevain family
returned to Holland in 1968 they took with them over two tonnes
of select agate to sell on the prosperous European market. In 1969,
Rene and Nelleke established a mineral museum in the village of
Giethoorn based on an “Australian tropical jungle” theme
and which still operates today. As Rene interest in crystals and
minerals grew, he made frequent trips to countries such as Bolivia,
Peru, Uruguay and of course Chile – a long – time source of the
highly sought-after azure coloured lapis lazuli.
After eight years in Holland a desire to live once more in a tropical
environment saw the Boissevain family return to Australia 1977 as
permanent residents. With an ever-growing fascination with minerals
- and collection to accommodate- Rene embarked in 1987 on a lifelong
ambition: to construct a cave underground to house and display his
treasures so that other people could see and admire them. Hence,
the Crystal Caves, the visible – and visitable – culmination of
Rene’s travels and collecting.
The Crystal Caves offer visitors a fascinating experience, the
key to which is the “interactive” principle on which the
museum was conceived. This means that visitors can enjoy the rare
opportunity to get “close and personal” with most of the
exhibits, something virtually unheard of in conventional museums.
Touching and feeling the mineral and fossil specimen is encouraged,
as is photography. You can even have yourself photographed witting
on the largest piece of rose quartz in Australia. You can touch
the biggest amethyst geode in the world (geodes are hollow nodules
of rock the cavities of which are lined with crystals). This one
is called the “Empress of Uruguay” and it is perhaps the
most impressive exhibit at the Crystal Caves. The front half of
the “Empress” has been removed so that visitors can gaze
into the glittering crystalline heart of the geode with its lining
of tens of thousands of amethysts the colour of regal purple. It
is a beautiful sight, a magnificent natural work of art.
Smaller geodes at the Crystal Caves offer a more personalised interactive
experience. It’s call “Crack-a-Geode” and it works like
this. Visitors go to “Fascinating Facets”, the Crystal
Caves gift shop, and select a geode for purchase, which they are
then assisted to crack into two neat halves to reveal the crystal
formation inside. Each geode is unique and no one , until you crack
it, has ever seen inside it before. Identification and information
sheets, with advice on care and display, are available for the new
owner of these 44 million year of treasures.
“Fascinating Facets” is worth a visit in its own right.
Spread over an area of 400 square metres, the shop stocks a very
comprehensive range of jewellery to suit all budgets, lots of cut
gemstones, fossils and of course spectacular crystals, at near-wholesale
The Crystal Caves complex has been expanded three times since it
was opened and visitors find that on average they need to spend
at least an hour to see it all. Is there perhaps something a little
ironic in the fact that one of the most unusual attractions in the
“Sunshine State” is to be found underground?
THE CAIRNS POST – Friday, April 19th, 2002
“Open sesame for cave of treasure”
There’s an underground movement going on in Atherton which promises
earth-shattering consequences, reports Narelle Muller.
The Crystal Caves, a man-made labyrinth set among the shops of
businesses in Atherton’s Main St, may seem an odd attraction at
But, if you consider the geographic formation of the Tableland,
the volatile volcanic history of the region and its mineral riches,,
a museum dedicated to underground treasures isn’t so out of place.
“Billed as a “mysterious underground crystal and fossil
museum”. The Crystal Caves cover more than 250sq m over two
Combining natural history with fantasy, the experience is an exciting
for children as it is educational, with its colourful crystals,
delicate minerals and ancient fossils.
On entry, visitors are equipped with a miner’s helmet, complete
with torch (more for authenticity than practicality) and encouraged
to enjoy an interactive adventure – you are invited to touch whatever
is within reach – discovering more than 600 crystals and fossils.
Entering the Calcite Cavern, crystals form a glittering star-like
Guided through the darkness by hundreds of tiny spotlights, visitors
troll through the caves, peering at unique formations such as an
80 million year old water agate with water gliding about inside.
A 525kg rose quartz boulder provides a makeshift seat as well as
popular photo opportunity and the spectacular Magic Temple, a walk-through
grotto, houses the largest collection of fluorescent minerals in
Set amid the fairytale chamber are the largest selenite crystals
in the world from Mexico’s Cave of Swords.
Some specimens in the museum are worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Built by Dutchman Rene Boissevain in 1987, The Crystal Caves ahs
become on of the town’s biggest attractions, drawing more than 250,000
Rene admits on first hearing his idea, many locals concluded he
“had rocks in his head”, and they weren’t wrong, really.
His collection reflects a lifetime’s passion, travelling the world
“looking for treasure”.
Having owned a mineralogical museum in Holland, Rene has collected
gemstones, crystals and fossils from remote parts of the US, Brazil,
Uruguay and Mexico.
Arriving in Australia in 1963 with his wife Nelleke and young family
in “search of adventure”, he fossicked for agates at Agate
Creek and fell in love with the country.
“I realised I couldn’t go back to a land as small as Holland
which fits into Australia 365 times,” he laughs.
The Atherton Tableland offered all of the diversity the Boissevains
had discovered in foreign parts, in one small area and in 1977 they
emigrated, Needless to say, the mineral collection came too.
While the caves are not real, Rene says it seems fitting to build
a museum replicating a natural environment to display his specimens.
And of course, wearing a helmet is all part of the caving experience.
The torch does come in handy though, as some specimens are purposely
kept in the dark, awaiting revelation by curious visitors.
The Tableland is endowed with some magnificent natural caves. West
of Atherton are the limestone and crystal Chillagoe Caves and the
volcanic lava tubes of Undara continue to enthral, but what the
Boissevains have created makes mineralogy accessible to people of
“To create a museum with only Australia specimens would have
meant a substantially smaller collection,” says Rene. “We
have the best quality of each crystal formation or a complete fossil
sort. Australia is known world wide in mineralogical circles for
Tasmanian crocoite, Palmer River gold and opals from Cooper Pedy
and Lightening Ridge, Uruguay has the best quality amethyst, Argentina
is famous for rhodochrosite and the Congo for malachite.
“And while Australia does have many of the minerals we display,
Australian companies tend to mine for ore, not crystals,” says
All over the world there are mining operations large and small.
In poorer countries, where the ore is not plentiful enough to attract
larger mining corporations, smaller companies and families find
it worthwhile to mine the crystallised specimens, especially as
by products from lead, zinc and silver. In some cases entire families
work in small mines, removing only the crystals because they can’t
afford extractors and crushers to mine the ore. Larger mining companies
with modern equipment can go deeper into the earth’s crust for ore
and sometimes they break into cavities which are filled with the
most spectacular, colourful crystallised minerals the eye has ever
Rene and Nelleke have salvaged many of these precious specimens
over the years.
“The biggest frustration of mineral collections across the
world is the awful thought that the big multinationals going as
deep as 4km, throw everything into big crushers, including rare,
valuable crystal formations.”
Describing the crystallisation of minerals as “one of Mother
Nature’s incredible creations”. Rene makes a geology lesson
sound simpler than it ever did at school.
“Millions of years ago, the earth was trembling, volcanoes
erupting and hot glowing molten rock flowed over the surface,”
he says. As the lava cooled, gas bubbles, cavities and other large
open spaces were trapped beneath the earth’s crust, which forms
“Inside these cavities crystals formed. Small crystals formed
when it cooled off quickly and large ones when it cooled slowly.:
But the only way to really appreciate The Crystal Caves is to see
it for yourself.
o The Crystal Caves, 69 Main St. Atherton, open seven days from
8.30am until 5pm weekdays, 8.30am – 4pm Saturdays and 10am – 4pm
Sundays. Allow at least 45 minutes for visit. Phone 4091 2365.
THE CAIRNS POST – Saturday, May 15th, 1999
“Rene’s Last Crusade”
It took a lifetime of hunting gems, chasing dreams and uprooting
family, but the passion appears to be paying off. Roz Pulley reports
on a pair of adventurers who’ve cast off their wanderlust to share
a fairytale collection of crystal clusters with the rest of the
When gem collector Rene Boissevain set eyes on three super-sized
amethyst crystal formations in Brazil three years ago, he just knew
he had to have them.
It didn’t matter that they cost $20,000 each or that he was about
to blow the entire year’s budget of the business he and wife Nelleke
ran in Atherton’s main street.
“I’m a hopeless person with money,” says the irrepressible
Rene, whose candour is matched by generous laughter. “that
was all so stupid. Honestly and truly, it’s the first time my wife
and I had real trouble staying together. She thought ‘you’ve got
to be crazy’. That was our budget to buy things all over the world.
I blew it in one hit – phhooom.”
The three rare amethyst “geodes” Rene bought – giant
grey boulders on the outside, encrusted with brilliant purple gems
on their hollow insides – are the biggest of their kind in Australia.
But they very nearly proved to be the undoing of everything Rene
and Nelleke had worked for during the previous 30 years.
“it was like ‘I don’t want anyone else to have them’, “recalls
Rene. “Instead of buying one, no, I want the three biggest.
That’s me. I was stupid. It was so dumb, I realise now.”
Nelleke stuck with Rene. Rene, meanwhile, it stuck with the giant
geodes. “You want one?” he asks optimistically, “Fifteen
thousand dollars, take it away, I’ll deliver it.”
Rene might be having trouble finding takers for the largest and
prettiest rocks in his collection, but he and Nelleke have had no
trouble selling tourists on the idea of coming to visit them – or
the hundreds of other semi precious gems and prehistoric fossils
they’ve accumulated since the mid ’60′s and deposited in Crystal
Caves, their mineralogical museum at Atherton.
Seen by 125,000 people in the past seven years, it’s also just
received tourism’s official seal of approval. Crystal Caves won
the significant Regional Attraction Award at 1999 North Queensland
It’s the pay off for the long and often lean years when Rene and
Nelleke struggled to turn pipe dreams into a visible and visual
reality. Rene a self confessed eccentric who’s part Indiana Jones,
part Nutty Professor – had wanted to build a series of man made
“caves” beneath the couples rock shop in Atherton. It
was to be a mystical and eerie fantasy land, where visitors could
see and touch Mother Nature’s most colourful creations in a world
of pure make believe.
He started small at first. A single chamber that took about 10
minutes to wander through. It was enough to whet a visitor’s appetite
- and Rene’s. Within five years, he was digging deeper. More chambers,
secret passages, revolving rock doors (a la Harrison Ford’s Temple
of Doom). Stalactites and stalagmites.
By the time it was officially opened in July 1992, Atherton’s underground
cave system – not quite on the scale of Undara or Chillagoe, but
certainly impressive – had soaked up 4500 soundproofing egg cartons,
enough chicken wire for hundreds of chook pens, truckloads of spray-on
polystyrene foam, 450 assets of Rene and Nelleke Boissevain – including
“I would have preferred to keep the house, of course,”
says Nelleke, “but we were getting so far mortgaged, that was
getting too expensive, so we sold it. We rented for nine years.”
While they were out of a home, their agates and amethysts, dolomites
and fluorites, garnets and geodines were well taken care of. Each
had its place in the scheme of things. Their limestone cave look-alikes
made the perfect setting for 385 million year old marine fossils
and jawbone of an Ice Age woolly mammoth, petrified legs from Arizona,
a pair of dinosaur eggs from China and a agate that’s had the same
water sloshing around in it for 80 million years.
It’s a museum with a difference. Built fro the serious collector
(adult visitors outnumber children for four to one), it still offers
theme park fun for children, minus the ride. Miner’s torch hats
are a must – not for protection from foam rocks, more for peering
at things in dark, eerie places. Then it’s case of look and learn,
touch and discovery. A chance to run fingers across prehistoric
logs that have turned from wood to shiny stone over millions of
years. A chance to look into a mouth of a mammoth. Get up close
to a meteorite. Plot the evolution of the nautilus.
Even the most hardened of rock rubbishers can’t help but be dazzled
by Rene and Nelleke’s weird wonderful collection.
Okenite puffballs which look like fluffy cotton wool, but whose
find fibrous crystals can penetrate skin painfully. Charcoal coloured
creepy crawlies freeze framed on stones from which they haven’t
moved in 350 million years. Brilliant green malachite from Zaire.
Ancient sea fossils from Australia’s dry as dust interior. Grey
rocks which reveal their true colours only under fluorescent light,
formed as perfect interconnecting cubes. And golden pyrite crystals
- fool’s gold – which people were robbed, shot at and killed for
over the centuries.
The crystallisation of these minerals took place millions of years
before man was around to prize them. Planet Earth was a trembling
mass of erupting volcanoes, glowing molten rock and unbelievable
high temperatures. Eventually, everything cooled off. Small crystals
were formed when the temperature dropped quickly; large crystals
when it cooled slowly.
Rene and Nelleke’s crystal gazing, rock chasing and gem collecting
days began in the mid ’60′s after the pair moved here from Holland.
Rene was born into a dairy farming family and joined the Dutch Marines
at age 17, getting a taste for travel and tropical living in Irian
Jaya, then known as the Dut5ch East Indies.
Back in Holland, he threw himself into a variety of ventures -
from mink farming to breeding guinea fowls. “We had 30,000
guinea fowls walking around,” says Rene, “and we had to
wear ear muffs because they make a terrible screaming sound. But
when the economy in Holland went down, so went we, because all the
good restaurants closed doors and that was a luxury article. So
we emigrated to Australia”.
Australia was a land that suited Rene’s free spirit. He tried his
hand at crocodile hunting, tobacco grading and, finally, digging
“Once we were, we said ‘that’s it,” recalls Nelleke,
adding that it wasn’t just a case of her traipsing along after Rene.
“We were both in it. When we started off digging for agates
in Agate Creek, that’s wheat we did for about two and a half years.
It started off just digging for agates for something to do.”
It ended up with a pile of agates weighting 2,500kg and their return
to Holland, where they hoped to sell their wares – intending only
to stay long enough to stitch up some sales and visit family.
“In the meantime, I went overboard again,” says Rene,
“and did all these crazy things by building a museum in Holland,
which is still going and very successful. I created an Australian
jungle inside the museum and we got 150 different tropical birds
and they flew through the museum, which was dark and had a huge
aviary at the end.”
When he wasn’t running the museum, he was off hunting for 8000
year old fossilised elephant ostrich eggs in Madagascar or visiting
gem mines in Mexico.
It took nine years to establish their business to a point where
they could ditch and freezing Dutch winters and escape once more
to the tropical Tableland of Atherton.
“We returned in 1977 and we were retired,” says Rene.
“I was then 42. And we lived off what we created in Holland,
which was very good. And I thought this was never ending. Never
saved anything. Just blew it away. Four wheel drives and whatever.
Anyway, there came the day that the cheques didn’t come through
anymore and the whole thing nearly collapsed in Holland. So we packed
up with the three kids and went back, lived a year and a half, sorting
out a few things, sold out for a little money because the business
was run down. We returned to Australia half broke and we have to
start all over again.”
First they opened their gem and rock shop, Fascinating Facets.
Then came the caves. “from one thing, came another,” says
Lately, they have been joined in the business by their daughter,
30 years old Ghislaine, who has taken up the role of marketing manager.
While claiming to have “no qualifications whatsoever – just
lots of experience and a pretty big mouth”, she came with a
background in Dutch film and television, followed by work at a Noosa
It was enough to give her the media savvy and business nous to
create new marketing strategies for Crystal Caves, tighten the reins
on her free spending father and put together the sort of presentation
that could gain them credibility on the tourism awards circuit.
Crystal Caves was a finalist in the Significant Regional Attrition
Award of the Ansett Australia Tropical North Queensland Tourism
Awards in Cairns in March, before winning the same category at the
North Queensland Tourism Awards in Townsville last month. Ghislaine
was delighted. “We can never win a major awards because we’ll
never be a major tourism attraction,” she says. “We just
haven’t got the funds, we haven’t got the staff, we haven’t got
the money. So for our area, that is the biggest award that we could
possible ever win.”
If anyone knows the business, it is Ghislaine. Growing up in a
thoroughly unconventional family, she remembers a childhood of trips
back and forth to Holland on the gem trail – with the occasional
adventure in Africa thrown.
“As a kid, I probably complained a lot that Mum and Dad weren’t
there for me, Mum and Dad didn’t come to swimming training with
me, Mum and Dad didn’t take me to the Girl Guides – that sort of
thing. But they did take me on safari. So at the time I gelt I was
getting the raw end of the deal, but in hindsight I’ve learnt so
much more about life from travelling than you could ever learn at
“Other kids always thought my parents were great – particularly
Dad. I mean, with the big moustache and all that sort of thing.
He doesn’t do normal things. Put it this way, most kids, for their
birthday parties, they’d have smarties in a bowl and cake, Dad would
organise an entire treasure hunt with teams and four wheel drives
and canoeing across Tinaroo and digging up chests of treasure. I
went to my school reunion last year and they’re still talking about
that treasure hunt I had on my 10th Birthday.
“Or they bought me a donkey on my birthday. Instead of just
a little bicycle, no, a donkey, which threw me off and I ended up
in hospital and had concussion. They’ve never done normal and traditional
things, which as a kid is always really embarrassing, but once you
get older…. I think they’re pretty good parents. They taught
me a lot. Now I’m teaching them.”
Then, with the disarming honesty of her father, Ghislaine states:
“I’m not that much into rocks. They don’t fascinate me as much
as they fascinate him. But I love the tourism industry. I think
it’s absolutely incredible that one person was so obsessed with
rocks, he went and built this place – and that’s the angle I market.”
Financial management improved soon after Ghislaine began work,
says Rene. “Because I just kept building and making and spending,
she said ‘Dad, you can’t keep going like that’, She gives me the
figures and I say ‘oh, it is that bad?”‘
Rene’s head had been spinning with ideas. With the right financial
backing, he was convinced he could come up with a great finale in
his cavernous creation that “would give us world exposure”.
“I was a bit sad,” he says of having to curtail his fanciful
fantasies. “I’d love to work with millions of dollars. That’s
what it boils down to. I could build this bigger, better. It’s endless
what I come up with.
“But I’m not complaining. I can’t have it all. I’m very easy
living. I’m always happy. I say tomorrow’s another day and one of
my mottos is there is a solution for every thing. I believe that
strongly and if you keep saying that – if there’s difficulties,
in any line- suddenly the door opens again, you know?”
The visitors book at Crystal Caves shows 14 different nationalities
among a group of 20 visitors – and that’s just half a page. One
door may have closed for ht present, but people from around the
world are making sure the doors into Rene and Nelleke’s amazing
mineralogical museum stay wide open.
AUSSIE POST – March 21st, 1998
“Crystal Gazing Caveman”
Some say he’s mad but Rene has dedicated his life to an amazing
Rene Boissevain’s wife reckons her husband is a little crazy, but
his obsession for crystals and fossils has grown into one of Queensland’s
major tourist attractions – the Crystal Caves.
Rene has travelled the world for more than 30 years collecting
perfect crystals, fossils and mineral specimens for his underground
museum in Atherton.
His passion for crystals began in 1965, when Rene and wife Nelleke
gathered two tonnes of agate from Agate Creek in Queensland and
returned to their native Holland, where they started their first
museum in 1069. Rene then travelled the world collecting spectacular
crystals to display.
“We couldn’t stay in Holland and were back on our beloved
Atherton Tableland by 1977. I had been thinking about the ultimate
museum, the Crystal Caves.”
“He is a little crazy, “says Nelleke, “but I wouldn’t
have him any other way”.
The Crystal Caves, the only attraction of its kind in Australia
and one of the most spectacular mineral museums in the world, was
built deep below the main street of Atherton “to create an
air of mystery”. “There’s a whole series of caves with
tunnels and chambers and a rotating rock wall like in the Indiana
Jones movies,” is Rene’s description of his master work.
Tiny spotlights guide the way on his underground adventure. You
can touch giant crystals, walk through caves and run your hands
over a two million year old mammoth jaw, complete with teeth, before
standing beneath a giant agate done.
eople come here to see the Barrier Reef and rainforests, but
they forget there’s another world below the ground that is just
as spectacular,” says Rene.
“You can touch any crystals except the ones smaller than your
fist. I was told by experts not to let people touch them because
they will break them off, but I knew people would respect hem, and
To build a cave where he could finally display his extraordinary
collection – now worth hundreds of thousands of dollars – had been
Rene’s dream since childhood. “While all the other children
were building tree houses, I was digging out old rabbit burrows
and reinforcing my hollow with branches to try and make a cave,”
When work on the caves began in 1986, there was no need for architects
or draftsmen; it had already been mapped out many years ago in Rene’s
Rene’s latest addition to the museum is a 63kg water agate, from
Brazil. The agate still holds almost two litres of water, trapped
when the crystal was formed 80 million years ago after streams of
volcanic lava began to cool.
“The water agate is very unusual and the only other place
you can get them is Brazil,: he says. “the smaller ones are
not so rare, but one this size is very rare and stunning. You can
see the air and water moving inside it.”
Tests run by the Queensland Health Department found that, even
after all this time, the water is exceptionally pure.
The 61 year old says, “There is so much more I want to do.
I want to build another cave and fill it with balls of fluorescent
rock. These will be magical, with fabulous colours unknown to the
“No Ordinary Museum”
” There are more than 480 crystals and mineral specimens to
see in the museum, including three of the largest amethyst geodes
in the world, a 525kg boulder of rose quartz from Brazil, and a
330kg pyrite crystals (fools gold), from Peru.
” Most of the crystals on display are from South America, especially
” The museum is looking for good Australia specimens, including
gold nuggets, blue topaz, opal and sapphire.
” The museum has a permanent display replicas of world’s four
largest gold nuggets. The nuggets are the Welcome Stranger, the
biggest nugget ever found in Victoria (uncovered in 1869 and weighing
2284 ounces); the hand of Faith, found in Victoria 1980; the 330
ounce Little Hero, found in the 1890′s in WA; and the 1235 ounce
Golden Eagle, also found in WA, in 1931.
TABLELANDER – Tuesday, July 21st, 1998
“Tableland tourist map launched”
A new Tableland map has been produced to assist the Far North tourist
Tourism livewire Ghislaine Boissevain, of the Atherton firm Fascinating
Facets, produced the map.
It is designed to be a practical driving map with up to date information
on the area including Undara west, Innisfail south and Kuranda north.
The map/brochure, which is the size of a standard road map, was
launched at a function in Cairns last Thursday at the Pacific International
Hotel, attended by tourism and media personalities.
Ms Boissevain said the map created tremendous interest and was well
received by the tourist industry.
The Atherton Tablelands relies heavily upon Cairns to promote our
region so, basically, we need the Cairns operators to like us and
to recognise what the Tableland has to offer.
“Cairns operators can influence tourists to go that little
bit further to experience the Tableland and gain the total tropical
She said the Crystal Caves in Atherton has been operating for more
than 11 years, and six years ago stage 2 of the museum was officially
“Since then, there has been a stead increase in the number
“Most of the visitors to Atherton these days have heard of
the Crystal Caves,” Ms Boisssevain said.
More than 23,000 visitors had been through the museum and, according
to surveys, 60 per cent of these heard of their attraction through
reading a brochure they had picked up somewhere, either in their
hotel room, information centres or a car rental company.
:The response has been tremendous, even thought it was only launched
on Thursday. People from as far away as Townsville have heard about
it and are ringing me up asking for copies for tourists who are
intending to visit the Tableland.
“The map is such a complete package with a great variety of
products in it, that every business on the Tableland will benefit
from this publication.”
The publication will be delivered between Townsville and Port Douglas
this week, Ms Boissevain said.
THE CAIRNS POST – Saturday, July 1st, 1995
“Fascinating facets of an adventurer”
Smuggling a fossilised elephant ostrich egg out of Madagascar using
an aphrodisiac as a ploy is only one of the adventures former crocodile
hunter Rene Boissevain has had in his life.
The tale of how Atherton gem collector Rene Boissevain smuggled
an 8000 year old fossilised elephant ostrich egg out of Madagascar
might be an unlikely one but anyone who knows the former crocodile
hunter would have no trouble believing the story.
How he found such an egg in the first place was nothing short of
amazing but to think he managed to leave the country with it using
a local aphrodisiac powder to grab the attention of customs officials
is something else.
But that’s Rene for you. When the owner of the tourist attraction
Fascinating Facets and Crystal Caves says he doesn’t want to be
like anyone else, he certainly sticks to his guns.
“I think I’m just a bit of an adventurer,” he said with
a wry smile. “I just jump from one adventure to another. I
love a new challenge.”
The 58 year old certainly had a challenge ahead when he saw an
article in the National Geographic magazine about the discovery
of a fossilised elephant ostrich egg (aepyornis) and decided he
wanted to find one too.
Convincing a friend to join him, he set off for Madagascar with
a friend and they dug in the dunes for five weeks.
Surprise, surprise, they not only found a complete egg but also
quite a lot of fragments of broken ones from what Rene assumed was
the same nest.
“That was the easy part, ” the greying, somewhat acentric
but very likeable adventurer said.
“Then we had to smuggle it out of Madagascar and that’s another
With a bit of encouragement, a somewhat embarrassed René
reveals the smuggling act involved a local aphrodisiac called fanafu,
a special bark that when made into a tea was rumoured to give men
“that loving feeling” for around two hours.
“My friend had a suitcase full of it and when he opened it
for inspection he made a big song and dance about it saying “fanafu,
fanafu and making all the men laugh,” He said.
“While they were getting right into it I just walked through
with the egg in an old handbag, wrapped up in old dirty clothing
- and we got away with it.
“We probably risked jail and I’ll never forget how much my
legs were shaking. Later, I went back to Madagascar with my wife
and three children and we camped for half a year. It was the best
experience of my life.”
And Rene has certainly had a lot of experiences to judge by.
Born and raised on a diary farm in Holland, he served in the Dutch
Marines in Irian Jaya (part of the Dutch East Indies in those days)
as a young man and says he couldn’t settle down afterwards.
There was the mink farm he set up in Norway, his guinea fowl venture
which made money until the recession saw the restaurants which bought
his fowls close down, his marriage to Nelleke….
And then there was his plan to go to Africa and run safaris which
didn’t come off because of Mau Mau unrest there.
So Rene and Nelleke decided latitude 17 was their preferred climate,
sat down with a globe and targeted Cooktown in Far North Queensland
as their new home. But when he arrived, he found he could only get
work on the Tableland in the tobacco industry and they settled in
Atherton. Around the same time, Rene became involved in crocodile
shooting, in the days when It was legal, and digging for agates
It wasn’t until one fateful day in 1968 that Rene discovered his
as yet untapped passion for semi precious gemstones.
“We got lost on the Barkly Tableland in the Northern Territory
for seven weeks,” he said with a grimace.
“We knew where we had to go but we couldn’t get out. We were
at a point of no return, petrol wise, and we came very close to
death. We survived mainly by shooting galahs and eating them.”
The experience was enough to turn Rene right off crocodile hunting
and he decided to return to Holland to sell the two tonnes of agate
he had gathered.
Although the couple, who, by this time, had two daughters – Lefje
and Cecilia -had only intended to go for one year, it was eight
years before they returned to Australia.
In their home country they set up their first museum and imported
semi precious stones from all over the world making quite a name
Their third daughter, Ghislane, was born in Holland (“this
is when I gave up on sons”) and the family had a number of
what Rene calls “adventures”.
One of the more memorable was the time he wrapped an entire house
in aluminium foil “because I had to do something”.
Back in Atherton, in 1977, Rene decided it was time to realise
his greatest dream, to build a museum for the hundreds of thousands
of dollars worth of stones, crystals, minerals and fossils he had
collected over the years – a museum with a difference.
“People are like little monkeys, they like to touch things,”
he said. “In the Crystal Caves we try to make people find things
for themselves. There are lots of mysteries here, even finding their
way out of the cave is a challenge. I wanted to build a cave system.”
But first, Rene ventured into the restaurant business with a café
with a name so long he had trouble registering it.
Shortened to Where People Can Meet, the cafe, along with everything
else the family had, was sold to fund the construction for the Crystal
It was to be an expensive dream, building the surrealistic caves
that take a person about 45 minutes to explore cost $800,000, but
Rene says it was all worth it when the then Minister for Tourism,
Bob Gibbs, came to the Far North on July 4, 1992 to officially open
Of course, there had to be an adventure or two involved and one
of the most publicised was when the over exuberant Rene, delighted
at seeing his cave dream become reality, sprayed his wife’s brand
new four wheel drive all over with the same fire proof polyurethane
used in the construction.
Resembling something off The Flintstones, the foam and follow up
paint job, however, have remained and Rene now has a most interesting
“when we had finished, I called Nelleke to show her my good
idea but I can’t tell you what she said, ” Rene said.
Still, his artistic nature and passion for natural things shines
through in the cave network, which takes people through a number
of domes and passageways, past a huge variety of fascinating natural
“It’s my passion, close to an obsession, for crystals and
minerals,” he admitted.
“I travel all over the world – to US, Mexico, Bolivia, Brazil,
South America and Argentina – to collect the things from mines and
“My latest find is group of fossilised dinosaur eggs that
are 65 million years old, from Henan Province in Central China.
“they were smuggled out of China and I bought them in America.”
Rene has a giant crystal formation from brazil valued at around
With the caves now operating smoothly, anyone who didn’t know Rene
might think he would be starting to slow down, but not so.
He has decided it is time to build a house having rented since
selling the first house to finance the caves.
There’s only one problem, Nelleke won’t let him build the house
of polyurethane – but that won’t stop him from trying!
TOWNSVILLE BULLETIN – Saturday, March 19th, 1994
“In a World of his own”
Beneath the busy main street of Atherton, bustling heart of the
Atherton Tableland in Far North Queensland, seems an unlikely place
for a Dutch crocodile hunter to realise his dream, but that is where
Rene Boissevain has built his bizarre Crystal Caves.
“It’s a fantasy world, built around crystals and fossils which
appear in all colours, shapes and sizes – as you find your way through
the underground caves new surprises pop up around every corner to
delight the eye and the soul,” said Rene, creator of this remarkable
“I think I am an artist – just as a painter uses his canvas
to create a work of art, I build a cave and create a work of art
for everyone to see, to marvel at, to touch and to get a little
closer to the beginning of time and the creation of the Earth.”
Born on a diary farm in the Netherlands, René did his army
service in Irian Jaya (then part of the Dutch East Indies) and when
he returned he had the spirit of adventure in his veins.
“I was looking around for something different to do and I
set up a mink farm in Norway with a partner.
“It was going well when my partner decamped with all the money
and that was the end of that.
“I tried guinea fowls and made a good business out of that
for a while until we had a recession and all the expensive restaurants
which bought my fowls closed down.
“By the time I was married to Nelleke and we decided to go
to Africa and run safaris. Our plans were well advanced when Nelleke
read a book about the Mau Mau and that immediately meant Africa
They sat down with a globe and, having decided latitude 17 was
their preferred climate they chose Cooktown, in Far North Queensland
as their destination.
“We landed in Cairns but it was far too hot and humid, so
I got a job on a tobacco farm up on the Tableland. Then a Yugoslav
friend took me prospecting for agates up north and I got more and
more interested and began to study them.”
At the same time, Rene began going on crocodile shooting expeditions
- they were legal then, in 1966, and a good way of making some extra
money and pitting himself against the elements.
“After I’d been doing it for a while, I went shooting on the
Barkly Tableland and we got lost. We were lost for seven weeks and
we came very close to death.
“we survived mainly by shooting galahs and eating them and
eventually found our way out. That finished me off with crocodile
In 1968, now with two daughters in tow, Rene and Nelleke went back
to Holland, along with two tonnes of selected agate nodules and
they opened their first museum.
“It was called The Old Earth and is still very successful
“We couldn’t stay in Holland, though, and by 1977 we were
back on the Tableland, and I was thinking about my ultimate museum
- the Crystal Caves.”
Over the years he had been building his unique collection of rocks,
crystals and fossils Rene had designed most of it in his imagination
- he planned an adventure which would not only be exciting and beautiful,
but accessible to people in wheelchairs, and interesting on all
levels for all ages.
The first stage ‘was the rock shop, Fascinating Facets opened in
1977, which they started up to finance Rene’s dream of the caves.
“It was a new idea when we began, but of course now there
are crystal shops all over the country.
“we also began selling precious stones and crystals wholesale,
and soon we were getting along famously.”
It was to take some considerable time, however, before work would
begin on the caves.
“it needed a lot of money, more than we could lay our hands
on, even with all our savings,” he said.
“We sold our house and everything else, and finally the bank
came to our aid.
“The first thing we had to think about was the noise of the
traffic – you could hardly imagine you were deep underground if
you could hear the cars whizzing by overhead.”
The experimented with 2500 egg trays. They glued two layers of
them on to boards and nailed the boards to the wall sand ceiling,
stood back and listened – silence!
The construction of the timber framework, chicken wire and Hessian
kept them busy for the next six months.
At the same time they had people making frames for hundreds of
stalactites and stalagmites which were then stapled to the frame
Each spectacular stone, crystal and gem had to be placed in special
framework to simulate naturally occurring outcroppings, and smaller
Once these were built in and carefully masked, the actual “construction”
of the caves was undertaken by spraying polystyrene foam over the
painstakingly constructed framework.
It was a long hard job, and when they were finished Rene sat down
out the back of the shop with he sprayer and took a breather.
“We had both been working hard and we sat down with a few
beers to relax. Halfway through the second carton, I had a brilliant
idea – it was to spray the car, Nelleke’s new Suzuki Sierra as it
happened, with polystyrene foam as well, to make a promotional vehicle.
“so we did, straight over the spar tyre, the bull bar, everything.
When we had finished I called Nelleke to show her my good idea,
but I can’t tell you what she said.”
Nelleke won’t repeat her words either, but she did say that she
had drawn the line when Rene wanted to build a house using the same
construction methods as in the caves.
“A shop and a car is enough – I didn’t want to live in a polystyrene
house as well.”
Aside from the stories and anecdotes, nothing can quite prepare
you for the experience of walking down the winding ramp into the
caves – logically you know you’re in a giant Esky, but so spectacular
are the crystals and rocks in all the nooks and crannies, so cunningly
lit that you really feel that you are underground.
The narrow passageways lead you through all sorts of experience
s- yo can reach out and touch most of the displays – into the fluorescent
dark room, “The Temple of Gloom” which demonstrates the
fluorescence of rocks and shows what they look like in normal light,
and down into the “Agate Dome”.
The dome is best viewed by lying on your back and looking up into
a hemisphere dotted with paper thin slices of brilliantly coloured
agate, illuminated from behind.
Tripping over a softly pink rose quartz boulder the size of a small
car, you advance into the fossil chamber where one of the most remarkable
exhibits is housed.
It’s a “water rock” and is mounted on spring base, so
you can agitate it and see, trapped inside the stone, liquid thousands
of years old which has never solidified.
It’s impossible to describe the hundreds of fascinating exhibits
- some of the fossils have to be seen to be believed – but when
you finally emerge, blinking, into the light again, it’s hard to
realise that it was all illusion … Rene Boissevain’s dream.
THE TABLELANDER – February 4th, 1992
The Atherton Rotary Club has initiated a courtesy award for Atherton
businesses who showed courtesy and friendliness in serving customers.
The club’s vocational service director, Mr Kevan Goodworth, said
the perpetual award – a polished wooden clock from Tolga Woodworks
- would be awarded to a new business every three months.
The first award has been awarded t the staff and management of
Fascinating Faces and Crystal Caves in Main St. Each business will
also receive a certificate.
The next award will be presented around Easter and in the meantime
Rotary members and their friends will frequent Atherton businesses
of all types to witness the courtesy displayed to locals and tourists.
Mr Goodworth said the public was more than welcome to nominate
businesses which had excelled in courtesy and could contact him
at the Atherton State High School on 91 2688.
ADVERTISER – May 6th, 1992
“New areas to explore at Crystal Caves”
Soon, you can go on your own adventure of discovery through a recreated
cave full of impressive mineral and rock specimens.
The success of the Crystal Caves at Atherton’s Fascinating Facets
has seen these caves become one of the top attractions on the Atherton
Owner of Fascinating Facets Rene Boissevain said his plans to enlarge
the Crystal Caves will make the display of rocks and minerals one
of the largest and most fascinating to be found in the north.
Armed with a miner’s helmet, visitors will wander along a path
through several sections, each designed to enhance the individual
quality of specimens.
A “fairytale” section aims to bring the fantasy of life
to the fore so that visitors can leave the hectic pace of life behind
for a while.
In another section, fluorescent minerals, collected over 15 years
will be lit by a special black light.
Rene is sure this will be an extremely popular display as fluorescent
minerals are not normally displayed.
The extended Crystal Caves will be a course of self exploration
and will also cater for people in wheelchairs or those with prams.
Rene hopes to ope the new caves on June 1.
To celebrate, he will offer free after hours tours of the intriguing
caves during the first 10 days for people who have booked, by phone.
Further details of this offer will be available closer to the opening
date but Rene urged people to keep this exciting special offer in
The very special effects that are recreated in the Crystal Caves
S Fascinating Facets are being extended. Pictured is owner of Fascinating
Facets Rene Boissevain as he checks with David Ali of Granite Engineering
as he sprays the polyurethane foam that will form the mass of stalactites
and cave formations.
THE TABLELANDER – June 23rd, 1992
“Caves set for opening”
The creator of Fascinating Facets and Crystal Caves in Atherton,
Rene Boissevain, recently had the opportunity of showing off the
completed stage two project of the attractions underground caves
to the senior advertiser for the Federal Tourism Office, Mr John
Mr Brumby was on the Tablelands as part of a Far Northern tour
of tourist attractions.
The expanded caves will be officially opened by State Tourism Minister
Bob Gibbs on July 16.
Mr Brumby and Mr Boissevain are pictured.
THE TABLELANDER – Tuesday, July 7th, 1992
“Caves we can be proud of”
Something unique …. Something for Atherton to be proud of
… that is how Rene and Nelleke Boissevain see their expanding
Rene and his family are in the final stages of completing a vast
man made cave complex.
It expands the original Crystal Cave to about 200 sq m of meandering
walkways which pass a glittering array of crystals and exotic minerals,
highlighted by hidden lighting as well as the light from the miner’s
helmet worn during the tour.
An official opening of the expanded caves will be conducted in
the presence of invited guests by the Queensland Tourism Minister
Bob Gibbs on July 16.
But the Boissevains are keen to show their project to Atherton
Promotions manager Ghislaine Boissevain said Atherton residents
who make a prior booking will be able to see the new caves free
of charge on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week
in tow sessions at 5.30 pm and 6.30pm.
Describing the experience, Miss Boissevain said the cave had been
designed to allow one way traffic for viewers and the walk is expected
to take up to one hour to complete.
And the caves are fully accessible to disabled people in wheelchairs.
The expansion was prompted by the success of the original cave
which now becomes, part of the overall project.
Miss Boissevain said the cave had probed popular with tourists
and locals alike during the five years I has been operating.
The new section, which runs for an entire street block, took about
six months to create.
Visitors enter the cave through Fascinating Facets in Atherton.
They are equipped with a miner’s helmet and set off through the
Calcite Cave where crystals glitter to form a star like galaxy.
The tour continues down a winding walkway through a stalactite
gallery to a lower level.
Here the highlights include the Magic Temple, where a sequence
of ultra violet and conventional lighting turns dull rock specimens
into glowing crystals with an amazing range of colours.
The adjacent Agate Dome forms an igloo so big visitors can actually
walk inside the dome.
The illusion of being underground continues as visitors stroll around
the Cathedral and pass through Split Rock into The Fairytale chamber
where the earth’s history unfolds.
Fascinating Facets and the Crystal Caves are the results of Rene
Boissevain’s dedication to and fascination of the earth’s liner
minerals and crystals.
He said the collection was built up over a period of 27 years and
comprises major pieces from around the world.
“These are not just rocks,” he said, gesturing to the
glittering display in the caves.
“Crystals are very different. They are part of the earth’s
The family came to Australia in the 60′s from Holland and quickly
made a home in Atherton.
Mr Boissevain said the public’s safety and comfort was taken into
consideration during the design and construction of the caves.
“our motto is “Caving in Comfort”,” she said.
The project is fully air conditioned to create a cave like atmosphere.
He stresses the “secret” materials used to create the
illusion of the caves rock walls and ceilings are extremely fire
Tour parties will be restricted to about 40 to prevent overcrowding
in some of the confined galleries.
Miss Boissevain said an exciting experience was planned for the
invited guests at the official opening on Thursday week.
She declined to reveal details but said the guarantee guests would
be blasted into a new experience.
THE CAIRNS POST – July 18th, 1992
“Tourism goes underground”
A new tourist attraction, described as having a great impact nationally
and internationally, was officially opened by State Tourism Minister
Bob Gibbs in Atherton on Thursday night.
Mr Gibbs opened the extended Crystal Caves, a caving complex housed
beneath the mineral and crystal shop Fascinating Facets, owned by
Rene and Nelleke Boissevain.
The original “caves” were opened in 1987 and have proved
a popular attraction.
The enlarged caves now cover 200 sq. m and have been hollowed out
at basement level beneath the shop. The complex consists of two
levels, with slopes, small caves, grottos and passages, all with
appropriate names such as the Magic Temple and the Cathedral.
Describing it as an incredible complex Mr Gibbs said the tourist
industry in ‘Queensland was a lot more than just beaches, island
resorts and tropical rainforests.
“Eco tourism is becoming important, that is something which
reflects the natural environment,” he said.
Mr Gibbs said tourism would be the State’s biggest industry by
the year 2000.
TABLELANDER – Tuesday, July 21st, 1992
“Rock on Mr Gibbs”
State Tourism Minister Bob Gibbs is shown a crystal sample by Crystal
Caves promotions manager Ghislaine Boissevain during the official
opening of the complex in Atherton last week.
Before a gathering of invited guests, Mr Gibbs “blasted”
the entrance to the caves open with a simulated explosion, only
to be confronted by a “caveman” bearing gifts.
Mr Gibbs then led the gathering, supplied with caving helmets, on
a caving expedition and all received a memento of the official opening
to the Crystal Caves.
COURIER MAIL – December 26th, 1991
“Rene in search of gems for his Aladdin’s cave”
When visitors to the bustling town of Atherton catch sight of Rene
Boissevain’s multi coloured jeep and his gaudy trousers made of
curtain material, they can’t help themselves.
Eventually curiosity gets the better of them and they ask a local:
“Who is that guy?:
The answer, always given with a laugh, is: “Oh, that’s Rene.”
And is usually followed by the comment: “Wait till you see
Rene Boissevain is internationally recognised for his collection
of crystals – many of which decorate the display window of his crystal
and jewel shop in the main street of the far north Queensland town.
Inside the shop, at the back, is a discreet sign saying “The
Descend the darkened stairs, while the taped sounds of dripping
water add to the feeling of being underground, and you enter a world
the locals proudly call their “Aladdin’s Cave”.
Rene, a self confessed eccentric, has created a wonderland below
his shop – from Hessian, chicken wire and polyurethane – to sho
off some of the best examples of crystal formations and configurations
in the world.
In every corner, and on every pillar and wall of the cave, crystals
and precious stones glitter and shines.
Rene, who began collecting crystals 25 years ago while working
as a tobacco picker in the Gulf country, near Georgetown, today
travels the world looking for more samples for his collection.
This week, he was again overseas seeking out more crystals and
precious stones for his shop and the cave.
“South America, Africa, he goes everywhere seeking the best
and the most amazing examples he can find,” shop assistant
Fay Pink said.
“when he gets back, Rene plans to expand the cave.”
He will have to if his past trips are any indications.
“Visitors say people can see crystals and other things here
that they will not see anywhere else in the world – and they are
right,” Fay said.
THE TABLELANDER – July 31st, 1990
“Rene is a man of many colours”
Rene Boissevain is a man of many colours – from his crystal, gem
and jewellery business, Fascinating Facets, in Atherton, to the
specially tailored trousers he wears.
It is easy to pick Rene out from a crowded street on most days,
as the pinks, oranges, greens and blacks of his pants catch the
In fact, Rene often takes a liking to a swatch of fabric, and wills
end the material to a tailor to have the pants made up. It’s something
he has been doing for some years, and the pants have become a trademark
of Rene’s zany way of marketing himself and his business.
Another example has been the tiny four wheel drive which ahs been
dressed up in polystyrene foam and painted to depict the crystals
which are on display in the Crystal Caves below Fascinating Facets.
The vehicle is a real eye catcher, and has been featured in national
magazine for its originality.
And going back even further when Rene and his wife, Nelleke, lived
in Denmark – Rene wrapped an entire building in aluminium foil as
a special treat and to promote his business.
But according to Rene, marketing and promotion do not depend only
on the outlandish. Quality is an essential ingredient, along with
making sure that the local market is properly serviced.
“We are here for the local people as much as any ting else,”
“and while we do attract a lot of tourists, we intend to continue
looking after the people who live here and support us.”
Rene and Nelleke make frequent trips overseas to restock on their
supplies of crystals and unusual rock formations, a task which is
becoming increasingly more difficult.
“Modern mining techniques destroy almost all these formations.
You can’t find them walking on the ground, they are underneath and
modern mining just blows them apart,” Rene says.
“It means we have to go to the underdeveloped countries where
the mining techniques are not so advances to get much of our stock”.
CAIRNS POST – October 5th, 1990
“Crystal facets go on display”
While much is made these days of the beauty of the environment,
emphasis is generally placed on natural beauties as typified in
the rainforest and mountains.
Often overlooked is another aspect of nature’s incredible diversity
of colour, shape and form – the much less known mineral world.
Mineral in this sense does not mean iron, zinc or tin, but the
magnificent world of crystals.
In every shape, colour and size, crystals over the centuries have
attracted legends and stories, beliefs and superstitions.
From the minute to the height of a tall man, crystals have the
power to fascinate, impress and soothe the beholder.
One of Australia’s foremost collectors of crystals, Rene Boissevain,
has just received a specially commissioned consignment of these
crystals from South America.
The consignment includes an amethyst geode as tall as Rene, which
he believes to be probably the tallest and largest of its type known
to exist at present.
In Australia, these geodes are known colloquially as thunder eggs,
and are generally thought of as being around the size of a large
Anyone with that impression will quickly find how wrong he is on
a visit to Fascinating Facets in Main St, Atherton, where the consignment
is on display.
These geodes, referred to more correctly as “blisters”,
are mined in Brazil and Peru by workers skilled in this particular
The consignment also contains magnificent e3xamples of fool’s gold
or iron pyrites, and quartz crystals.
For those unable to travel to Atherton, the Cairns Crystal Ball
in the Orchid Plaza in Abbott Street also has a selection on display.
Fascinating Facets is open seven days a week. Weekend trading is
from 8.30am to 5pm on Saturdays and 10am to 5pm on Sundays.
TRAVEL & TOURISM SHOW – October 21st, 1990
It was great to have a Holiday and Travel Show – something for
the locals and transient tourists to see.
It was pleasing to see a lot of effort had gone into all of the
presentations, with videos, static displays and a few samples of
their cuisine. Congratulations to Fascinating Facets who won a show
display award. However, I was disappointed at the lack of motivation
from a majority of representatives from the companies who could
not see their way clear to come forward with a brochure and a “Have
you heard of us before?” or “did you know…?”
Come on, Cairns. You are just starting to get over your last tourism
depression. You need to sell yourselves a lot harder and a lot better
than others to make it to the top again.
CAIRNS POST – October 21st, 1990
“Facets firm win award”
Atherton – The Atherton gem and crystal firm of Fascinating Facets
has won this year’s Northern Building Society / Tablelands Promotion
Bureau Award of Excellence. The award is presented annually to an
individual or firm which makes some outstanding contribution in
its chosen field. The Parks and Gardens crew of Mareeba Shire Council
was highly commended.
THE TABLELANDER – October 30th, 1990
“Excellence award to gemstone shop”
The family gemstone business, Fascinating Facets, run by Rene,
Nelleke and Ghislaine Boissevain, has won the 1990 Northern Building
Society Award for Excellence and $1,000 in prize money.
The award was presented on Friday night at a small reception at
Dunlops Hotel in Mareeba, by the regional manager of the society,
Mr Kev Maher.
“an absolute flair for presentation” was how the entry
by the Boissevains was described.
Mr Maher said Fascinating Facets had made an outstanding contribution
to the Tablelands tourism industry.
“About eight years ago, Fascinating Facets was just a small
shop with displays of gemstones and crystals, but Rene’s absolute
flair for presentation has seen the shop constantly change.”
Mr Maher said.
“In the past two years, the Boissevains have built a large
cave in the shop in which is displayed many gemstones an crystals.
The shop’s ‘cave’ is now a tourist attraction in its own right.”
ADVERTISER – Date unknown
“A win for Fascinating Facets”
Now in its fifth year, the Northern Building Society / Tableland
Promotion Bureau Award for Excellence was announced at a function
in Mareeba on Friday night. Atherton’s premiere attraction, Fascinating
Facets, operated by Rene Boissevain and his wife Nelleke, picked
up the prestigious award, while the Mareeba’s Parks and Gardens
Department, headed by Ken Mayo was given a credible mention, Pictured
- from left – with the trophies and a cheque for $1,000, Northern
Building Society FNQ Regional Manager Kevin Maher, Suzanne Bailey
of Fascinating Facets and Tableland Promotion Bureau Chairman Brian
ADVERTISER – November 14th, 1990
“Best small business award for Rene”
Rene Boissevain of Atherton’s Fascinating Facets may be considered
outlandish by some people but his novel ideas certainly do help
to promote his business. Judges at this years QTV Tourism and Travel
Show must have thought so, too, as Fascinating Facets won an award
for the Best Display for a Small Business. With the help of Charlie
Andersen, Rene’s display recreated the entrance to the “Crystal
Caves” in Atherton where he has a unique display of gems and
crystals. Rene said the cave was created to stimulate people’s interest
in visiting Fascinating Facets and the Crystal Caves.
THE TABLELANDER – October 31st, 1989
“Crystal Caves award winner”
Atherton’s Fascinating Facets is more than just a rockshop – it’s
a wonderland that glitters and shines just like any of its crystals.
One section of Fascinating Facets, the Crystal Caves, recently
won a high commendation in the Northern Building Society’s Award
This underground museum is a fascinating way to see crystal formations
which are spotlighted to show their brilliance.
So beautiful are some, that it is impossible to believe they come
from the inner parts of Earth.
Another “facet” of Fascinating Facets is the street level
Gallery where a wide selection of hand crafted jewellery, gemstones
and crystals are displayed.
By dealing with highly skilled local craftsmen and dealing directly
with miners and manufacturers, high quality items can be offered
at very competitive prices.
With 20 years experience to back up the friendly service, a rich
mineral department also operates.
From a beginner to an advanced collector, there are many crystallised
mineral specimens on sale.
Rockhound and tourist alike will lose any sense of time once they
have entered Fascinating Facets.
Gembead necklaces, healing stone pendants, watches and rings are
all so individual that you will certainly be buying something that
is a little different from the norm.
AUSTRALIAN GOLD GEM AND TREASURE MAGAZINE
- February 1988
“The Secret Power of Gems”
Are you the owner of a healing stone? You may have one in your
possession without realising its potential: your own gem collection
may well include the means to a happier, healthier, even wealthier
Since time began gems have been prized not only for their enchanting
beauty but for their hidden powers. The crystal has long been regarded
as a sacred stone by American Indians and an invaluable aid both
in healing and in communicating with the spirits.
In medieval Europe powdered crystal was mixed with wine to relieve
stomach disorders. Scottish highlanders used crystal charms to cure
poisonous infections in both humans and animals.
An ancient legend states that rock crystal was originally holy
water which froze into ice on its way down from Heaven and that
angels miraculously purified the substance in its present form,
endowing it with secret powers to benefit mankind.
Today there’s increasing interest worldwide in the healing properties
and cosmetic value of quartz crystals, especially transparent rock
crystal. Some overseas celebrities are said to keep huge chunks
worth up to $10,000 in their homes or offices.
According to one American scientist each crystal has its own energy
pattern an unique as fingerprints and he advocates care when choosing
a personal crystal, to ensure that its energies are harmonious with
At Fascinating Facets Gem and Mineral Centre at Atherton in North
Queensland, a world class collection of quartz crystals can be viewed.
The centre is a treasure house laden with glowing gems, with jewellery
and gifts for sale; handcrafted silver and turquoise necklets, natural
quartz crystal balls, marble goblets and tiny perter figures set
in sparkling geodes.
The most unusual feature of the centre however is the ‘Aladdin’s
Cave’. Proprietors of “Fascinating Facets; and creators of
the cave are Rene and Nelleke Boissevain, who ingeniously converted
their shop basement and opened this wondrous cave to the public
in September 1987.
I can vouch that a visit to this wonderland is an unforgettable
experience. It’s like another world where tiny ceiling lights twinkle
like glow-worms, where stalactites and stalagmites have illuminated
cavities filled with precious stones and gems, and the sound of
dripping water promotes an authentic underground atmosphere.
In this magical setting treasure from all over the world are cleverly
spotlighted – giant amethyst geodes from Brazil, mottled green malachite
from Africa, crystallized pyrites from Peru and 120 million years
old ammonites from Walsh River near Chillagoe in North Queensland.
There’s even a ;swan Lake’ ballet display of clear white crystals.
Cavern walls and columns are amazingly realistic, and foundations
sprayed with lightweight polyurethane foam give an incredibly true
to life effect.
Following the cave theme, Rene’s Suzuki vehicle has been similarly
treated with foam, and the ‘cave mobile’ is always the centre of
interest wherever it goes.
The Boissevains can recount endless stories of customers whose
ailments have been cured by crystals. Nelleke herself has several
times experienced their healing effects and the couple’s daughter
Cecilia recalls that on many occasions she’s experienced strong
energizing sensations in her hand and arm when handling various
Some time ago when Cecilia was suffering from back complaint she
had a friend lightly pass a crystal up and down over the painful
area. After just a few of these treatments, Cecilia says her back
troubles were over.
The strongest and most renowned healing stone appears to be the
amethyst. It’s claimed to be not only effective in relieving headaches
but also insomnia when gently rubbed against the temples.
One long time migraine sufferer mentioned to the Boissevains that
he’d tried all the patent medicines without relief. On their advice
she wore an amethyst crystal for several hours each day, and reported
that after a short time her headaches disappeared completely.
The stone of romance, rose quartz, is said to enhance artistic
ability and increase creative urges; while aquamarine promotes a
feeling of youth and courage and is attributed with the power to
help martial happiness.
Tourmaline gives inspiration and promotes general contentment,
carnelian can control a violent temper and tiger eye is used to
treat eye diseases.
Each of these healing stones is a marvellous asset to own but for
the budding treasure hunter a garnet can’t be beaten. Not only does
it create unbounded energy but it’s said that the wine red gem has
power to reveal to its possessor, secret hordes of hidden treasure!
NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER MAGAZINE – February 24th, 1988
“A Crystal cave ….. in the centre of town!”
Limestone pillars, twinkling crystals and the sound of dripping
water conjure up thoughts of Jenolan or Chillagoe, but there’s another
limestone cave gaining popularity in the centre of Atherton.
The cave is the brainchild of Atherton businessman and crystal
expert Rene Boissevain who operates the crystal and mineral shop,
Rene felt that his vast crystal collection which included magnificent
specimens from all over the world could be displayed to best advantage
in a cave setting, so he decided that he would build one.
After months of work and after spending $75,000 Rene’s crystal
cave is fully stocked and is attracting increasing numbers of tourists
to the town.
Rene said the superstructure of the cavern was designed with wood
and copious quantities of Hessian, which was then sprayed with enormous
volumes of a polystyrene foam, similar to that used in the building
industry for insulation.
The foam was shaped into stalactites, pillars and grottos and then
painted brown and green, the texture and colour greatly resembling
that of damp cave walls.
Even the shop’s four wheel drive receive3d the treatment and was
totally covered in foam. Cuts had to be made in the covering to
allow access to the doors and bonnet, and the ‘cavemobile’ has become
a familiar sight around the streets of Atherton.
The crystal cave is air conditioned, which adds to the subterranean
atmosphere as does the taped sound of constantly dripping water.
Set in the walls of the cave and around the pillars are the prize
exhibits of Rene’s renowned collection of exquisite crystals.
Price of place is occupied by two recent additions from Brail,
a huge amethyst geode and thousands of individual crystals, each
of faceting quality.
Crystals have long been believed to hold mystical powers and the
perfect quartz crystals for sale in the shop attract many people
who believe in the healing and supernatural powers of crystals.
Some believe that crystals possess an energy that can cure a range
of illnesses and promotes well being (a crystal ‘hit’) and some
visitors to fascinating facets buy them for their supposed powers.
Whether they really do possess these qualities or not, no on can
deny the rare and timeless beauty of a perfect crystal, be it quartz,
aquamarine, topaz or amethyst.
A Crystal cave under Atherton’s main street may seem a strange
and ambitious project, but not to those who know Rene’s penchant
for the unusual.
ADVERTISER – February 17th, 1988
“Fascinating specimens from Brazil”
Some of the largest and most spectacular mineral specimens ever
to come to Australia have arrived in North Queensland.
They include a quartz crystal cluster in excellent condition weighting
almost 100 kg, believed to be the largest such specimen in Australia.
Rene Boissevain, of Fascinating Facets, who arranged for the specimens
to be brought to Australia, says that even the best of the museums
in our capital cities cannot boast a mineral exhibit of this calibre.
He says that as well as the crystal cluster, there is an amethyst
geode weighting almost a quarter of a tonne.
This, he said, was not as rare as the crystal cluster but very
bit as spectacular.
Rene plans to use these specimens as the focal point of shopping
centre displays throughout Australia.
When not involved in such displays, they will be exhibited at Fascinating
Facets underground crystal museum in Atherton.
Rene says it requires months of protracted negotiations with contracts
in the remote part of Brazil to acquire these magnificent specimens.
There are only a few parts of the world left where primitive hand
mining techniques are in operation and it is only from these places
that undamaged mineral specimens can be obtained.
“Machine mining destroys or badly damages specimens making
them almost worthless,” Mr Boissevain concludes.
TRAVEL & TORUISM – THE CAIRNS POST- March 1988
“Magic cave under Main St.”
Hidden in the heart of Far North Queensland’s rainforest country
is a jewelled cave with treasures which sparkle like Aladdin’s treasure.
Hobgoblins could well be lurking behind the stalagmite columns.
But the jungle containing this piece of fairyland is the ‘concrete
jungle’ of Main St, Atherton – the major farming and tourism centre
of the beautiful Atherton Tableland.
The jewels are a spectacular collection of crystallised mineral
specimens including quartz, amethyst, topaz and many others with
names less familiar but equally stunning.
The most valuable piece is a single crystal of erythrite, a type
The rarest is a minute crystal called kottigite, and the most spectacular
the medallic grey stibnite.
There is crystallised pyrites (fools gold) from Peru, rose quartz
from Madagascar, barite from Germany and desert rose gypsum from
Beneath Fascinating Facets, a shop specialising in precious stones,
healing stones, fossils and imaginative jewellery, the display is
housed in an ingenious man made cave resembling the places kilometres
under the earth from where these beautiful and rare specimens were
mined by hand.
It was devised by adventurer Rene Boissevain who built up most
of the collection over the eight years he spent travelling the globe
as a buyer and seller of mineral specimens.
Many of the specimens were displayed in his museum in Holland,
but following the museum’s sale four years ago it was carefully
packed for shipping to Australia – only to be ‘lost’ in a cargo
transfer shed between Sydney and Brisbane for 3½ years.
Since opening his Crystal Cave a few months ago, Rene has proudly
shown the pick of his 23 years of mineral collecting to fascinating
tourists and locals.
“Quite a few people just don’t believe the crystals are natural
formations,” Rene said.
“they ask how they are cut and polished and whether dyes have
been used to obtain the brilliant colours.
“Of course all the specimens are completely natural.”
The journey into the cave, through a darkened tunnel, is punctuated
with the sharp sound of dripping water, simulating the natural forces
at work which create the stalactites and stalagmites.
Like Merlin, in his own crystal cave, the visitor to this other
world of disclosed beauty must first push through the darkened barrier
- in this case just a black curtain but the atmospheric effect is
a good one.
The journey back to the real world and the Main St pavement is
softened by the many interesting or rather fascinating items in
Rene and his wife Nelleke’s shop.
There are rare agate bowl sets – a whole solid agate scooped out
into six or eight or even fifteen perfect bowls which stack to form
the agate nodule again.
There is beautiful cleverly designed jewellery, huge chunks of
amethyst and other beautiful specimens, 120 million year old fossils
and crystal healing stones.
These range from amazonite, which is claimed to have aphrodisiac
properties to citrine, reputed to relieve tiredness, bring happiness
and strengthen the nerves, emerald, which is supposed to strengthen
memory and eyes and help epilepsy, jasper, which is claimed to help
morning sickness, relieve stomach, liver and kidney diseases, help
stroke, epilepsy and loss of smell. Magnesite is claimed to be good
Hil latest purchase includes two perfect quartz crystal formations
from South America which together weighs 146kg.
Rene says they are probably the biggest perfect specimen ever found.
One will be put up for sale while its partner goes on display in
Collectors Australia wide with a passion for crystallised minerals
also use Rene and Nelleke Boissevain’s mail order service.
The healing stones may require the addition of a bit of good luck
to work their magic.
But the cave in which their mightier examples are displayed has
magic enough of its own to provide some relief from the workaday
AUSTRALIAN POST – August 6th, 1988
“There’s a cave at the back of my shop!”
Crystals have supernatural powers, say some devotees. This fan
displays them in an extraordinary way…
Atherton (Q) businessman Rene Boissevain is not a man to shy away
from a challenge.
When he decided his world renewed crystal specimens could be shown
to best advantage in a cave, he built one – complete with “limestone”
pillars, stalactites, ledges and grottos.
After $75,000 and 3 ½ months work, Rene had constructed the
cave in the basement of his mineral shop, called Fascinating Facets.
You enter through a winding, dimly-lit tunnel from the back of the
shop. Sounds of dripping water add to the atmosphere.
The cave superstructure was formed from timber, chicken wire and
Hessian sprayed with pressurised polyurethane foam, similar to that
used in insulation. This was painted green, with tinges of brown
giving a damp effect.
Event he shop Suzuki four wheel drive didn’t escape the “treatment”.
It was covered to give the impression of a rolling stone.
The Impulsive Rene has a passion for the unusual.
His outlandish streak was revealed during the Atherton Maize Festival.
The mineral shop won the prize for the best decorated premises,
with the crowd-stopping spectacle of Rene, dressed as a cat, pursuing
63 real white rats around the shop window, supposedly protecting
the farmers maize.
In the cave, 40 spotlights play on glittering Brazilian amethyst,
blue celestite from Malagasy, Moroccan vandanite and hand shaped
The more familiar Australian specimen include Tasmanian crocoite
and boulder opal from Winton (Q) as well as ammonite fossils from
the Walsh River (Q).
Much of the collection originates from mining areas in less developed
countries where operations are still carried out without mechanisation.
The crystal deposits are often found in volcanic blisters, sometimes
4 km below the earth’s surface.
Many devotees of the New Age, who believe in extra-ordinary powers
of crystals, visit Fascinating Facets. They buy quartz crystals
for $5 to $1,500.
Believers in “crystal consciousness” say crystals radiate
vibrations through water and that drinking the water produces a
“crystal hit” with increased energy and well-being.
Others claim that crystals can alleviate bodily ailments or even
that a crystal attached to a carburettor can improve fuel economy.
What is certain is that crystals do emit precise oscillations in
response to electrical current, a property employed widely in the
The collection includes “healing stones” which are said
to emit a wide range of stimulating rays to aid anthi9ng from varicose
veins to impotence.
Apart form any claims of paranormal qualities, the sheet natural
timeless beauty of geometric perfection of crystals has a great
attraction for Rene.
“You can turn a crystal over and over in your hand and see
that it is so beautiful,” he says, holding an impressive steely
grey Rumanian antimonite cluster. “Every piece is so different
and is exclusively Nature’s creation.”
TRAVEL & TOURISM, THE CAIRNS POST – October, 1988
“A man-made cave full of nature’s crystal creations”
Atherton businessman Rene Boissevain is not a man to shy away from
When he decided his world renowned crystal specimens could be shown
to best advantage in a cave, he built one – complete with ‘limestone’
pillars, stalactites, ledges and grottos.
After $75,000 and 3½ months work, Rene had constructed the
cave in the basement of his mineral shop, called Fascinating Facets.
You enter through a winding, dimly lit tunnel from the back of
the shop. Sounds of dripping water add to the atmosphere.
Rene has a passion for the unusual.
His outlandish streak was revealed during the Atherton Maize Festival.
The mineral shop won the prize for the best decorated premises,
with the crowd stopping spectacle of Rene, dressed as a cat, pursuing
63 real white rats around the shop window, supposedly protecting
the farmers maize.
In the cave, 40 spotlights play on glittering Brazilian amethyst,
blue celestite from Malagasy, Moroccan vandanite and handshaped
The more familiar Australian specimens include Tasmanian crocoite
and boulder opal from Winton as well as ammonite fossils from the
Walsh River, both in Queensland.
Much of the collection originates from mining areas in less developed
countries where operations are still carried out without mechanisation.
The crystal deposits are often found in volcanic blisters, sometimes
4 km below the earth’s surface.
Apart from nay claims of paranormal qualities, the sheer natural
timeless beauty and geometric perfection of crystals has a great
attraction for Rene.
“You can turn a crystal over and over in your hand and see
that it is so beautiful,” he says.
“Every piece is so different and is exclusively Natures creation.
Below: a foam spray job ahs turned Rene’s car into a rolling stone.
AUSTRALASIAN POST – December 24th, 1988
“Lets face it – he’s…… CRAZY!”
Once he even tried to drive his wife’s brand new jeep across a
river … she’s never forgiven him.
To say Rene Boissevain is a bit of an eccentric is an understatement.
The 51 year old Dutchman wraps buildings in tin foil, cages himself
in display windows with hundreds of rats, tears around town in a
chariot looking for jousting partners and tries to float his wife’s
new car across a raging torrent on tractor tyres.
And most of it has taken place in the small country town of Atherton
(Q), about tow hours drive from Cairns.
So how do the townspeople relate to his antics? “Most of them
probably think I’m crazy.”
About 12 years ago Rene decided to sell his crystal rock business
in Holland and open a shop in Atherton Called Fascinating Facets.
“I had been travelling all over the world buying and selling
gems but my family was getting older and I decided it was time to
settle down,” he said.
The year before last, Rene took part in the Atherton Maize Festival
by painting himself as a cat and caging himself in his shop window
with hundreds of rats for more than eight hours (something about
protecting the maize from the rats). Last year he attracted attention
by building a morbid street float over flowing with mutilated mannequins.
“I was on the float, poised like one of the dummies, watching
as everyone was freaking out at what they was,” Rene said.
“I don’t mind if people think I’m eccentric as long as they
don’t think I’m a total bloody idiot.”
Rene also dressed as Sir Lancelot and drives a chariot around town
looking for jousting partners.
Last year he also tried to float his wife’s brand new jeep (it
had been drive only 500 km) across the Normanby River on tractor
“I was confident it would work, although my wife was a little
anxious when we discovered the river was in flood,” he said.
“anyway, we tied a rope to a tree on the other side and hitched
it to the car, then drove it on to the tyres and set out across
the river. I guess I must have miscalculated. The rope broke and
next thing we know my daughter and I are in the middle of a raging
torrent being swept down river in a car. It was not one of my greatest
Rene is well known around Atherton for the car he drives. Having
survived its river ordeal, his wife’s jeep again became the centre
of attention when he converted it into a multi coloured version
of something out of the Flintstones.
“I was having my shop renovated to look like a giant cave
and we had some materials left over so we remodelled the car. My
wife could have killed me when she sae it. I sometimes wonder who
she puts up with me.”
Rene says on eof his most spectacular projects was when he wrapped
an entire building in tin foil back in Holland. “I also wanted
to wrap all the tress in town but they wouldn’t let me,” he
THE TABLELANDER – 13th January, 1987
“Lost, collection comes to light”
A three and a half year old mystery was solved recently when a
valuable collection of crystallised mineral specimens, owned by
Rene Boissevain of Atherton, turned up after being lost in transit
from Holland to Atherton.
The collection of 450 specimens, was put together by Rene during
his eight years of trading in mineral specimens on the International
Over the years, Rene, a minerals expert, kept the best of what
he bought gradually putting together the superb collection.
Initially, it was displayed in his museum in Holland, but following
the sale of this museum four years ago, it was carefully packed
for transportation to Australia.
“It took weeks and weeks to pack the crate,” says Rene.
“Each of the specimens had to be handled with great care as
their values lies in the crystals being undamaged”.
The 650kg carte was shipped and disappeared. At the same time,
Rene had consigned a ride on motor mower from Holland, and that
turned up quite safely in Atherton.
“Holland blamed Australia and Australian blamed Holland,”
“The phone calls and telexes and letters flew back and forth,
but the crate couldn’t be located.”
Rene went personally to Brisbane and Sydney obtaining permission
to look in all the bond stores, but after 10 days of fruitless searching,
had to accept that the crate of specimens, had vanished.
“it took a long time to get over the shock,” he says
Then, to his astonishment, about six months ago, a letter turned
up from the customs department asking why he hadn’t collected a
crate stored in a Sydney to Brisbane Transfer shed.
The letter warned that if the crate was not picked up within seven
days, the contents would be sold at auction.
Rene immediately contacted his agent who made arrangements to collect
the crate and pay the $700 demanded for storage.
“We paid the money – we thought we would argue after we got
the crate back,” says Rene with a grin.
Finally the precious collection arrived in Atherton where it was
unpacked and found to be in excellent condition.
Now it is on display prior to its sale, in Fascinating Facets,
Rene’s shop in Main Street, Atherton.
Rene says that considerable interest in purchasing the collection
has been show by a mining company and a museum, but he is hoping
it might stay here in the north.
The most valuable piece is a specimen of Erythrite, a type of cobalt,
which owes its value to its size rather than its rarity.
The rarest is a minute crystal, “nothing much to look at”,
called Kottigite and the most spectacular, the metallic grey Stibnite.
Rene says the public’s reaction to the collection is most interesting.
“Quite a few people just don’t believe the crystals are natural
formations,” he says. “They ask how they are cut and polished,
and whether dyes have been used to obtain the brilliant colours.
“Of course all the specimens are completely natural.”
THE TABLELANDER – 11th August, 1987
“What’s Rene up to now?”
Atherton businessman, Rene Boissevain, has a reputation for originality.
Remember last year, when he shocked and delighted Maize Festival
crowds with his winning shop window display featuring 40 live white
rats with Rene himself in their midst, complete with ears and whiskers,
as King of the Rats?
Now he has come up with a new idea that looks certain to put Atherton
on the tourist map.
Atherton Is about to get its own treasure cave.
Rene, originally from Holland, has operated his business, Fascinating
Facets, in Atherton for several years.
Visitors from all over the world are drawn to his shop to see his
outstanding collection of gems and minerals, and to buy specimens
Now Rene is to provide a fitting setting for his gem and mineral
No longer will it be displayed on mundane shelves, but instead
will be shown off to best advantage in an artfully created “cave”
in the basement of his shop.
Strategically placed spotlights will highlight the specimens.
Carpenters are already busy constructing the cave and winding tunnel
which starts at the rear of the shop.
“It’s the first cave I’ve ever had to build,” said one
of the workers with a grin.
Rene is hoping his cave will exert a magic influence, drawing visitors
to Atherton to see his world standard collection of minerals and
gemstones in a setting worthy of their intrinsic beauty and interest.
TRAVEL & TOURISM – THE CAIRNS POST – September, 1987
“Cave of crystals”
Rene Boissevain is pictured with one of the unusual pieces which
makes up his crystal mineral collection, described as one of the
best in Australia.
This collection, containing 429 separate pieces, is on permanent
display at Rene’s shop Fascinating Facets in Main street, Atherton.
Until recently housed on specially designed shelves, Rene has now
moved the collection into a more realistic setting, by designing
a “café” in the basement of his shop where the
crystals can be shown in an environment closer to their natural
In addition to the “mineral department”, admission to
which is free, Rene and his wife Nelleke carry a wide range of gems,
gold, healing stone and quartz crystals for sale.
THE TABLELANDER – 1st September, 1987
“Would you believe…. A crystal cave and a rock car?”
All I can say is that it’s absolutely fascinating! I’m talking
about the exciting new tourist attraction opening soon in Atherton.
Local identities, Rene and Nelleke Boissevain, have expanded their
Fascinating Facets store, to include the Underground Crystal Museum.
It’s an underground cave that houses the most beautiful crystal
and mineral deposits ever seen in the area. Included are quartz
crystals, rose quartz, amethyst crystals, agate, Australian “thunder
eggs”, and much, much more.
The displays are made up of Mr Boissevain’s private collection
of crystals and minerals as well as special imported samples of
these lovely rocks.
The museum opens to the public next week.
In conjunction with the opening of the museum, fascinating Facets
is running a competition to name the “rock car”.
The competition is open to all schools and their students and the
winners will receive a free tour of the museum for their class.
As well as being a wonderful display of crystals, the museum is
full of interesting information on how the crystals were formed
and where the stones were discovered.
THE TABLELANDER- 8th September, 1987
“Crystal cave beauties”
Rene Boissevain, of Fascinating Facets, and his bevy of cave-girl
beauties, are pictured after the opening of his new Crystal Underground
Museum, located in the basement of his Main street shop.
With Rene and Del Hamilton and the two small daughters of Mr and
Mrs Joe Tanko, Krystina-Ann and Tanya Maree.
The new museum was officially opened on Friday afternoon by the
manager of the Queensland Tourist and travel Corporation, Mr Brett
Gilbbert, and it certainly went off with a bang as a wall was blown
out to reveal the cave entrance.
What was previously a very ordinary basement in the shop has been
transformed into a realistic looking cave entered by tunnel.
Artfully placed spotlights paly over the glittering exhibits and
here also, Rene’s world class mineral and gemstone collection has
an appropriate setting.
Rene believes that the new tourist attraction will draw many additional
visitors to Atherton, and based on the enthusiasm of guests at the
opening, his optimism is entirely justified.
“Spectacular crystals in underground cavern”
While a collection of rare and spectacular crystals mounted in
display cabinets is a thing of beauty and wonder, to see those same
crystals set in grottos and stalactites in an underground cavern
is to truly appreciate the extraordinary beauty of these naturally
Add to this the sparkling of the crystals in the glow of concealed
lights, with a low stone roof and the sound of dripping water, and
you could be forgiven for thinking you are in a fantasy world.
It has taken Rene Boissevain of Fascinating Facets in Atherton
three and a half months and $75,000 to create the underground cavern
in the basement of his shop where he now houses his crystal collection
- described as one of the best in Australia.
The most spectacular of the 429 pieces in the collection have been
selected for the cavern, while the remainder are on special display
Vast quantities of polyurethane foam were used to create the ‘cavern’
effect, complete with stalactites and stalagmites. To enhance the
‘underground’ feeling, entry is via a dimly lit tunnel, which leads
the visitor into the ‘treasure chamber’ gleaming with marvellously
In their natural state crystals are found mainly in volcanic blisters,
small pockets of stone embedded deep beneath the earth, within which
the crystals form. They are commonly found by mine workers, who
dispose of them to crystal collectors throughout the world.
The shape and colours are completely natural, but according to
Rene this is the thing people find hard to accept.
“I am constantly being asked how I cut and polish them to
such shapes, ” He said. “I have trouble convincing some
people the pieces are totally natural.”
Fascinating Facets is situated in Main street, Atherton, and in
addition to the crystal display carries a wide range of gems, gold,
healing stones and quartz crystal , as well as gift items made form
these materials. A charge is made for admission to the cavern, which
is entered through the shop.
TOURIST SCENE – December, 1987
“Discover your own Aladdin’s cave”
Millions of years ago, deep down inside the earth, volcanic action
was forming minerals into crystals.
Only now are these natural crystals formations being brought to
the surface by mine workers, some won from the earth up to 3.5 kilometres
below its surface.
In many countries, the miners still use the old fashioned methods
of extracting these precious stones – picks, shovels and raw muscle.
Sometimes the miners trike a pocket, a cavity or mini cave lined
with most spectacular and sometimes bizarre crystals.
Carefully and with great patience, they loosen and remove these
natural treasures from inside volcanic blisters.
The thrill of happening across a rich pocket of these wondrous
crystals has been reserved for a select few. Until now.
Now you too can discover your own Aladdin’s cave of spectacular
crystals – without even getting your hands dirty!
You can embark on your own voyage of discovery, heading underground,
deeper and deeper until you hear the tinkling rush of running water.
Through the tunnel you’ll go…. At first it is rather dark,
but soon you’ll see the first of the light pockets jealously guarding
the most amazing variety of minerals.
At the end of the tunnel is a curtain. Open it and you’re in a
Hidden between stalactites and stalagmites are little spotlights
that pick the crystals out of the walls
The spectacular formations embedded in their natural looking cavities
will make you shake your head in wonder and gasp with awe.
This amazing underground crystal wonderland is the work and brain
child of adventurer and rock expert, Rene Boissevain.
His shop, Fascinating Facets, si located in Main Street Atherton,
and is truly a “one of a kind” experience.
Here, Rene has set up his own treasure trove of minerals, gemstones
and jewellery. He also stocks the famous healing stones.
Collected world wide, Rene’s crystal display is the best in Australia.
It’s a must whether you live her or are just visiting
CAIRNS WEEK – 2nd March, 1986
“Stone of the month”
February’s birthstone is the amethyst. A semi precious gemstone,
it is said to protect the wearer from the effects of drunkenness
and to insure justice. The Chinese have been known to rent amethyst
to people involved in court cases. Amethyst is reputed to be effective
against headaches, especially migraine. In cases of insomnia, gently
rubbing the stone on the temple is supposed to induce sleep. This
interesting example of the gemstone comes from Brazil and is displayed
by 18 year old Cecilia Boissevain of Fascinating Facets, who believes
in the power of this beautiful purple stone.
THE TABLELANDER – 16th September, 1986
The interest in “healing stones” is booming in Europe
with Australia close behind, according to Rene Boissevain, of Fascinating
Rene, who has been involved with healing stones for the past eight
years, initially overseas, and now in Atherton, is firmly convinced
that the beautifully polished gemstones he sells, do have remarkable
At his Atherton shop, he stocks more than 20 varieties.
“For instance, there’s amethyst, very helpful for those who
suffer from migraine e and headaches, amber which is good for asthma
and chest conditions, malachite, stronger than a copper bracelet
for alleviating rheumatism and arthritis, and many more – even one
to help you slim,’ he said.
Rene says people have been conditioned to believe that inanimate
objects like stone or metals are totally lifeless. However, scientists
have found that there is great activities in the most passive looking
object with its atoms and molecules in constant motion.
And, he says, ancient teaching indicates there exists a very important
inter relationship between the human being and the kingdom of nature,
the mineral world in general and precious and semiprecious stones
Rene stresses that the theory of healing stones I not his. It is,
he says, a well known world wide concept featured in several major
magazines and about which almost 60 books have been written in various
He commented that a recent television program, “Good Morning
Australia”, had featured a segment on crystalline healing energy
which had created a great deal of local interest and as a result
he had received a number of enquires about the crystal which eh
“Those who really know about it,” he says, “come
in and are able to choose the piece of crystal that is right for
them by holding their hand over several pieces until they feel the
Rene says the theory si that healing stones work best when placed
as close as possible to the heart so it is a good idea to wear them
as pendants. And very attractive ones they make!
Each healing stone comes mounted ready to take a chain r can be
purchased beautifully presented in a box with a chain and a miniature
dried flower arrangement, for under $15.
The stone by itself, of course, costs very much less than this.
“And,” says Rene, “what you are actually getting
is a genuine gemstone with the healing properties thrown in free.”
As well as healing stones, Rene has lots of other fascinating things
in his shop … beautiful jewellery, all genuine, ornaments featuring
natural minerals, and miniature pewter animals and lots lots more.
You are always welcome to call in and browse.
THE CAIRNS POST – 30th December, 1986
“Rare mineral collection goes on sale”
A Far North Queensland mineral collection of rare excellence will
be offered for sale in early 1987.
The collection has been assembled over a period of 20 years by
Mr Rene Boissevain.
The carefully selected crystalline specimens come from many different
Examples include specimens from Trepca in Yugoslavia, Vera Cruz
in Mexico, stibnites from Rumania and green apophylcites from India.
Mr Boissevain’s position as proprietor of the famous Dutch mineral
museum, “the Old Earth”, and his Australian companies,
Gemstones of the World and Fascinating Facets, have given him the
unique opportunity of being able to select from undamaged specimens
of the highest quality, said the selling agents, Dave Sinclair and
Collections of this calibre deserve exhibition at the most prestigious
locations. State or National museums would no doubt be excellent
venues, but it would appear that current economic conditions may
preclude this option unless assisted by a publicly spirited company,
the agents said.
Mr Boissevain is currently involved in the laborious task of compiling
a catalogue which will provide a photograph, measurements, and a
description of each specimen.
In most instances, collections like this are purchased by overseas
buyers. As we rapidly approach our bicentennial year it would be
stimulating to realise that Australia was developing the sophistication
to take an interest in acquiring perfect specimens of the minerals
that actually constitute our planet, said a spokesman for the agents.
The collection may be inspected personally at Fascinating Facets
in Atherton by contacting the agents.
“Excellent trophy for champion maize”
As a gesture towards the Atherton Centenary, the Atherton Maize
Festival Committee has decided to donate a trophy to the grower
of the champion maize exhibit at the 1985 Atherton Show.
The trophy was designed and manufactured by Fascinating Facets,
of Atherton, and depicts three cobs of maize which have been copper
plated and mounted on a highly polished timer base. The trophy is
valued in excess of $100.
Committee chairman Mr John Hardy, said “As maize has been
grown in the area since the turn of the century, the maize industry
is fitting as a pioneer crop of the area.
“it was decided to highlight this for the Atherton Centenary
celebrations by donating a trophy for the champion maize exhibit
of this year’s show.”
So, Mr Maize Grower, consider making an entry in the maize section
of this year’s show and have the once only opportunity to win this
highly valued and fancied trophy.
ADVERTISER – 9th January, 1985
“New gallery in Atherton”
An exhibition by Tableland artist Bettina Glass was an appropriate
choice for the opening of a new art gallery in Atherton recently,
as three years old Bettina ran a private gallery only a few doors
from where her present exhibition is on display.
The new gallery is the idea of Atherton businessman Rene Boissevain
who runs a gemstone and mineral shop, “Fascinating Facets”
in the town’s main street.
When Fascinating Facets moved into larger premises three months
ago Mr. Boissevain decided to convert one wall of the new shop into
a small gallery, to provide a place for exhibitions by local artists.
To those people who know Bettina mainly as a portrait painter,
the exhibition comes as something off a surprise. The dozen or so
paintings have been chosen to illustrate the artist’s versatility,
with only one portrait, a head study done in pastels, among them.
The main comment among people who have visited the gallery, according
to Rene Boissevain, has been surprise that all the paintings are
by the same artist.
Bettina explained the differences in style by saying that for each
different subject she painted she reserved a different treatment.
Paintings range from the extreme realism of Winter Sunrise and
Old Ravenswood through an interesting study of youthful movement
in On the Wind, to the bold abstraction of Irrigation Channels with
its cloud of rising bubbles.
Nor has the artist confined herself to the use of oils. The paintings
demonstrate her technical ability in such diverse mediums as pastels,
acrylics, enamels, and water colour.
Her “Eacham Shire” described as “acrylic and mixed
medium with found objects”, uses a montage technique combining
various forms of paint, stones and other small objects.
Bettina and fellow painter, Maree Cohen will be travelling to Florence,
Italy in June to study art. “The trip will be for about a month,
and I will be concentrating on my portraiture,” she said.
Bettina recently completed a life-size portrait of Cooktown’s “Flying
Padre”, now the Anglican Bishop of Carpentaria, Anthony Hall-Matthews,
which was submitted for consideration for the Archibald Prize.
The exhibition will remain open all this month.
Rene hopes to have an exhibition of a different artist each month.
“To make the exhibition worthwhile, the artist will need at
least a dozen paintings.”
Bettina said the idea was a good one, and would do a lot of Tableland
While on the subject of Tableland Art, Bettina a member of the
Atherton District Art Society said that the Society desperately
needed more members to help with work such as their Annual exhibition.
“The office bearers and members are having to do so much work
that they are not getting the time needed to devote to their painting,”
“We would like to see a lot of young people join the society.
The ability to paint is not a necessity, only an interest in art
Anyone who wishes to join the Society, or is willing to give assistance
can get in touch with them care of the Secretary, PO Box 368, Atherton.
THE CAIRNS POST – 17th December, 1985
“Fascinating gem store opens in Cairns”
Fascinating Facets, a gemstone retail outlet, is now open in Cairns.
Situated in Abbott St diagonally opposite the post office, this
new store offers both the serious gem collector and amateur fossicker
a vast range of collector specimens and advice. For the shopper,
Fascinating Facets provides different gift ideas from its collection
of cut and polished gemstones and handcrafted jewellery. The new
store in Cairns was opened as a result of the success achieved by
tis sister store in Atherton. This feature tells you of the fascinating
storey behind the store and its owner, Rene Boissevian, who came
to Australia from Holland 20 years ago to work in Atherton, where
he became interested in his gem foraging hobby.
Following the success of the unusual, Fascinating Facets, gemstone
retail outlet in Atherton, over the past three years, Rene Boissevain,
has opened a new store in Cairns, in Abbott St. diagonally opposite
the post office.
Fascinating Facets is not strictly a gemstone shop, or a jewellery
shop, nor is it a rock collector’s shop or gift shop, but all of
these – as multi faceted as the faces of a natural crystallised
mineral and as stunning as the facets cut into a stone that will
make it into an exclusive gem.
The new store is as beautiful as the products displayed, having
a quiet, gallery atmosphere, where shoppers can select from an unusual
and exquisite collection of cut and polished gemstones, handcrafted
jewellery made from imported turquoise, natural opal, jade, crystal,
as well as silver of all types and gold nuggets.
There are natural crystals, birth stones, healing stones, genuine
quartz crystal balls, exclusive imported fish fossils, beautiful
malachite and collectors mineral specimens.
Fascinating Facets is one of the few gemstone stores in Far North
Queensland catering for collectors and amateur fossickers, with
a vast range of collectors specimens, crystalline samples and helpful
advice on identity and authenticity.
Rene points out that all the stones are crystals at Fascinating
Facets are genuine, all natural and nothing artificial. For example
the quartz crystal balls are carved from huge rock crystals, unlike
some crystal balls available, which are often man made lead crystals
or cut from glass.
As well as the range of exclusive jewellery and finished stones,
Fascinating Facets has some very different but much appreciated
gift lines. Rings and pendants inlaid with different stones, polished
alloy cigarette boxes and cigarette lighters also inlaid, imported
silver and gold chains, gold plated flowers and leaves, and a selection
of bead necklaces cut and polished from a variety of stones including
amethyst, which will last a lifetime.
There are fascinating, do it yourself mosaic pictures supplied
with a kit of coloured stone chips to be glued onto outline pictures
of birds, wildlife and bush scenes – a variation on painting by
Another participation gift is the revived version on the ancient
native game of Man-Kala. Originally played with 36 pebbles moved
around a series of cups dug in the ground, Fascinating Facets have
recreated the game with 36 polished gemstones, on an Australian
timber board. Naturally instructions are included and as well as
being a great conversation piece it is reputed to be as addictive
All terms are superbly displayed and remarkably inexpensive.
“Just because we display things nicely, doesn’t mean we are
expensive – we have something to suit all budgets”, Rene said.
To complement the vast and beautiful retail lines, Fascinating
Facets will cut and polish client’s own stone’s design settings,
repair all jewellery and repair and maintain antique jewellery.
The workshop and studio on the Tablelands also has the facility
for electroforming – a process by which loose stones of any shape,
including facet cut or tumbled, can be set in silver or gold edging
to take a chain, clasp or earring, depending on how the client wants
to wear the piece.
THE CAIRNS POST – 17th December, 1985
“The inside facet”
When Rene Boissevain first came to Australia from his native Holland
in 1965, he was living and working at Walkamin on the Atherton Tableland.
He spent a lot of time foraging for agate and gemstones in Agate
Creek, near Forsythe and Georgetown.
In an old Nissan Patrol, along almost impassable bush tracks, accompanied
by his wife Nelleke and young daughter Lifje, Rene became more and
more fascinated by the rich variety of gems to be found in the Far
North and the concept of Fascinating Facets started to take shape.
He had been involved in one of the few privately owned museum/
galleries in Giethorn, Holland, called De Oude Aarde meaning The
Old Earth and many of Rene’s Far North Queensland specimens were
sent there for cutting, polishing and exhibition at the gallery
which attracts almost 50,000 visitors each year and is still a major
So from a long experience in minerals the Fascinating Facets retail
outlet and workshop was established in Atherton, three years ago.
A wholesale department – Gemstones of the World was also established
with Rene importing mineral specimens from all over the world, and
travelling extensively visiting mines and selecting the most beautiful
specimens for display and sale in Australia and Holland.
Genuine Indian furquoise from the Nevajo Indians has been imported
from America and limited quantities of stunning fish fossils have
been imported from Brazil, while some fantastic Australian specimens
and fossils have been exported to many countries.
The turquoise, in particular, is handcrafted in America by the
Navajo Indians and has become a highlight in the Atherton shop and
now, the new Cairns shop.
Rene has introduced Healing stones from Europe which have been
little known in Australia and he also imports silver and gold chains.
He believes that by importing direct from overseas suppliers and
with his personal involvement in overseas buying trips, that he
can keep prices affordable and offer the very best in value and
quality to his clients.
The recent opening of the Cairns shop has been major expansion
for Fascinating Facets.
Wife Nelleke is still very much involved and maintains the Atherton
shop and co ordinates overall administration, while daughter, Cecilia
is operating the Cairns shop with the assistance of Karen Serum-Lewis.
Rene shares his expertise between the two locations.
With more than 20 years experience in minerals and gemstones, Rene
is pleased to share his knowledge and offer advice to his clients
and assures the staff of both shops also have excellent knowledge
of the multi facets that makes Fascinating Facets a delightful shopping
and browsing experience.
THE CAIRNS POST – 17th December, 1985
“Take a close look at these gems”
Gemstones have fascinating backgrounds and were used many hundreds
of years ago for their healing and mystical powers as well as for
For example aquamarine means sea water and the blue to blue green
colour of this precious gem brings it to mind. It is the stone of
clairvoyants and mystics. Aquamarine is supposed to help against
eye disease, neuralgia, swollen glands, throat, jaw and tooth conditions.
It also is a gemstone which is supposed to be useful for stomach
and liver conditions. It is said aquamarine keeps one young, fearless,
warm hearted and faithful and supposedly gives happiness in marriage.
Tiger eye has a band of light which resembles an eye and was used
in ancient times to ward off the evil eye and to protect against
eye defects. It is said to give the wearer increased insight into
himself and to enhance his outlook on the world. Tiger Eye is supposed
to help eye diseases, colds, to relieve cramps and give one self
Amethyst is a beautiful purple gemstone popular for its colour.
It is said to protect the wearer from drunkenness and to insure
justice. The Chinese have been known to rent amethysts to people
involved in court cases. Amethyst is reputed to be effective against
headaches, especially migraine. In cases of insomnia, gently rubbing
the stone on the temple is supposed to induce sleep.
Rock crystal is water clean quartz. The ancient Greeks believed
it is to be ice turned to stone. This gemstone is used to manufacture
crystal balls for fortune tellers. In hot summers the Romans used
such spheres to cool their hands. Rock crystal is reputed to be
useful for diarrhoea, dizziness and fainting. This gem is supposed
to clarify knowledge and to conquer fear, therefore it is used for
centre of meditation.
THE TABLELANDER – 17th December, 1985
“Beauty that lasts a lifetime”
More and more people are going for the real thing, the natural
beauty of genuine gemstones, says Rene Boissevain, of Fascinating
With real gemstones, he says, you have something precious that
lasts a lifetime and can then be passed on to your children.
“buy a dress,” says Rene, “it lasts a season. Yet
if you buy a necklace of real gemstones at about the same price
as that dress, it will last forever.”
At Fascinating Facets you will find over 40 different types of
gemstones, some already made up into necklaces, or you can have
your necklace strung to any length you desire, missing or matching
stones, whichever you prefer.
The style is baroque with the polished irregular stones making
a bold statement very much in line with current fashion trends.
The colours are endless and quite beautiful. There is the pale
pink of rose quartz, honey coloured citrine, apricot carnelian,
snowflake obsidian, perhaps alternating with white magnesium nuggets
or amethysts ranging from deep rich purple to lilac, and much, much
Every necklace is individual and as Rene says, people recognise
the real thing when they see it.
Some clients, he says, even bring in their new dress or dress material
to have the perfect necklace made up to go with it.
Prices generally speaking, range from around $60 to $95.
As well as the gemstone necklaces, Fascinating Facets has many
other ideal items for gift giving including beautiful silver and
turquoise jewellery, plus cases for cigarette lighters, key rings
and belt buckles, all handcrafted by the Red Indians of Arizona
and imported direct by Fascinating Facets.
Or what about a pair of petrified wood book ends, mineral specimens
which make beautiful and unusual ornaments as well as collectors
items, wall hangings from India, healing gemstones (ask for the
pamphlet) or the old/new game, Man-Kala, played with polished gemstones
on an Australian timber board. Remember, Fascinating Facets has
an electroforming studio where you can have your own polished gemstones
made into pendants for as little as $15.
And Fascinating Facets has the cheapest gold and silver chains
in the north because they import direct.
Fascinating Facets is now at 53 Abbott Street, Cairns as well as
69 Main Street Atherton.
“A fascinating new shop”
Fascinating Facets has moved to new premises n Main Street, Atherton
right next to Rockmans.
“We just outgrew our former shop,” says proprietor, Rene
The décor of the new showroom is dramatic and different,
complementing the truly fascinating stock.
There are mineral specimens from all over the world, with some
spectacular items from the famous Jewel Tunnel at Poona, India,
There are superb piece s of furniture, such as the hand carved
bar in the photograph, jewellery and other interesting knick knacks
such as carved jade pieces.
Plus of course, Rene’s special love – up to 40 different species
of palms, both common and rare varieties for sale.
Fascinating Facets also offers an exclusive jewellery designing,
alteration and repair service, together with stone faceting.
An additional feature of the beautiful shop is what Rene calls
“The Gallery”, a specially lit wall, designed to provide
a showcase for local artists. Fascinating Facets draws customers
from all over Australia and in addition, provides a comprehensive
mail order service.
THE CAIRNS POST – 27th July, 1984
“Healing powers of stones”
The ancient theory of healing powers being associated with precious
stones is alive and apparently booming in Atherton, and Rene Boissevain
and his daughter, Lefje, are experts on the subject.
The pair (pictured) operate Fascinating Facets – a shop which sells
healing stones – in the town’s main street.
Authoritative writings on the use of precious stones have been
made since the First Century AD. They reached their peak of proliferation
in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Theoretically, a person’s zodiac
sign governs their birthstone.
According to research in Australia, if a girl wants a diamond for
a best friend she should be born under the Libra sign. To be effective
it is believed a stone should be of good quality and weight not
less than two carats. The stone must touch the skin to allow the
subtle energies to penetrate the tissue.
ADVERTISER – 31st October, 1984
“New location for Fascinating Facets”
Fascinating Facets officially opened for business at its new location
on Saturday, October 13. The shop moved from 69 Main Street in to
the shop space formerly occupied by KnitWit.
Fascinating Facets in its new location has completely updated the
shop and is entirely different from its former location which was
next door to the coffee lounge, Where People Can Meet.
It is much larger, and beautifully equipped with three spotlight
rail systems for lighting, greatly expanded stock and an exhibition
wall space which is intended to be used as a gallery area for the
exhibition of various artists work at monthly intervals.
Fascinating Facet is a family business Lefje Boissevain is the
manager of the shop.
Rene Boissevain, her father, has been in the mineral business for
20 year starting in Australia with three years in Walkamin, then
to Holland where he and his wife Nelleke, owned and operated a very
successful mineral museum.
The museum has been sold, but is still a very viable business under
Rene and his family returned to Australia and have resided in Atherton
for the past eight years.
Throughout the entire 20 years Rene has spent much time travelling
the world to purchase excellent mineral specimens.
The world wide contacts he has established in the mineral business
makes it possible to obtain the finest materials, many of which
are on display in the new shop.
Also on display and for sale are jewellery, gift items, oriental
object d’art, the largest collection of gold and silver chains in
the North, fine stone carvings and even t-shirts.
In addition there is a wide range of collectors species of palm
The shop stocks all sorts of faceted stones in all price ranges.
They do custom faceting, jewellery design, construction, alterations
and repairs including antique jewellery repairs. Plans for the further
include stocking rough gemstone materials and to extend the gift
All in all, it’s a lovely place to visit, to browse, and to shop!
THE TABLELANDER – 7th December, 1984
“Rare specimens at Fascinating Facets”
The results of 20 years travelling the world collecting mineral
specimens are now on display in the aptly named Fascinating Facets
in Main St. Atherton.
The business, owned and operated by the Boissevain family, Rene,
his wife Nelleke and daughter Lefje, specialises in gemstones and
mineral specimens, many of which are collectors items and have attracted
attention from as far south as Sydney and Melbourne.
A recent move into larger premises has enabled the business to
expand into oriental objects d’art, stone carvings and jade.
Rene’s interest in collecting dates back 20 years to his early
days in this country.
He went to Holland some years ago where he established a successful
mineral museum, subsequently coming back to Queensland and eventually
settling in Atherton eight years ago.
He continually travels, acquiring new and rare specimens, which
are added to the display.
The additional space provided by the new shop has enabled Rene
to set out the display impressively in large showcases with special
lighting so the specimens are shown to best advantage.
According to Lefje, who manages the business, many of the pieces
attract purchasers simply because they’ like the look of the stone’,
while the best items in the display are purchased by collectors.
“we have several from Cairns who come here regularly, and
we often have collectors from Sydney and Melbourne dropping in.
They are always amazed at the range we carry,” she said.
The Boissevains plan in the near future to expand their stock to
include rough gemstone material in addition to cut stones.
They also do custom faceting.
Their stock includes jewellery, gold and silver chains, and they
undertake jewellery design and repairs.
Their next project is the establishment of a small art gallery
on one wall of the shop, where they plan to hold regular exhibitions.
They also carry a small selection of rare and uncommon palm trees
which are proving popular with keen gardeners.
PEOPLE MAGAZINE – 17th December, 1984
“The healing stones!”
Rene Boissevain reckons he has a good cure for your ills – get
stoned! That is, put your body in touch with stones – amethysts,
agates, aquamarines – the kind of stone depends on your ailment.
It’s called gem therapy, and according to gem specialist Rene,
it’s becoming increasingly popular in Europe, especially in his
“there are specialists there who feel your pulse, and just
by touching you can tell the stones that you need,” says Rene.
“People wear the stones sewn in their underclothing, so that
they get full benefit,” adds Rene’s daughter Eifje.
“Jade is worn in underpants for kidney complaints, and amethyst
under the pillow will cure insomnia.”
And if that sounds like double Dutch, Rene will tell you that scientists
have proved that the atomic energy in stones reacts with the atoms
in our bodies – especially since we share with the gems many of
the same mineral and chemical properties.
Most people think of gems only as jewellery, but with the growing
interest in alternative healing methods, gem therapy is gaining
They’re not just the sparkling, inanimate ornaments we’re lead
to believe. Gems are in fact teeming with atomic and molecular energy
- energy that can be used in spiritual and physiological healing.
Rene and Eifje sell the healing stones from their shop, Fascinating
Facets, in Atherton, North Queensland. Both are well qualified in
the gemstone business.
For the best results, a stone should be worn close to the skin.
There are a number of ways of selecting the gemstone that’s right
for you. One way is by using a well researched horoscope and a birthstones
You may also find yourself drawn intuitively to a particular gem.
When I visited Fascinating Facets, Rene and Eifje invited my two
year old daughter to choose a stone from their dazzling display.
Alana made straight for an agate – which Rene later revealed was
her birth stone. She was born on June 14, under the star sign Gemini.
Agates are said to give courage, strengthen the heart and protect
the wearer from extravagance. It has a calming effect, can cool
fevers and improve hearing.
Unsuitable stones, however should be avoided – they can have ill
effects, and bring out negative aspects of the wearer’s personality.
And just to show that healing stones do impart their good vibes
to our bodies, they’ll sometimes fade and crack when they’ve been
drained of their energy.
A few days in the sun will restore a gem’s potency.
TABLELANDER – 8th February, 1983
“Fascinating Facets”, a new business which opened last
week in Main street, Atherton, next to “Where People Can Meet”
coffee lounge, certainly lives up to its name.
The shop specialises in mineral specimens, jewellery, and palm
trees – and there is such fascination in the display cases that
the customer could literally spend hours browsing.
Rene Boissevain and his pretty blonde daughter, Lefje, are the
brains behind the business.
For the last 17 years, Rene, who originally came from Holland,
has been importing and exporting minerals and gemstones.
“We decided to open the shop in Atherton so that people could
see why we found gemstones so interesting,” said Lefje.
“People come in and they just don’t believe their eyes.”
And that’s not surprising. There are large glowing slabs of polished
agate, geodes, sliced in half to disclose a fairyland of shimmering
crystals inside the plain rough stone, hundreds of mineral specimens,
and delightful jewellery which utilises the natural beauty of the
Pure gold or silver edgings add a rich finish to the individual
One unusually display si of the so called “healing stones”
- polished gemstone pendants which reputedly have the power to cure
headaches, bad temper, even drunkenness.
Fro the budding collector there are boxes of mineral specimens,
Lefje is very knowledgeable about her stock, “I grew up with
it because of my father’s interest,” she says.
She also mines some of the locally found gemstones and minerals
and does the initial shaping of the pieces made into jewellery.
Many of the minerals and gemstones are imported from Mexico and
Brazil while others, particularly the opal, agate and fools gold
is Australian in origin.
“New stock si coming in all the time, so there is always something
different to display,” says Lefje.
There are eight varieties of palms on sale as well as the minerals
Prices for the lush green plants range from $7 to $15 with some
rarest specimens a little more expensive.
ADVERTISER – 9th February, 1983
“New shop opens in Atherton”
Fascinating Facets, a new shop being managed by Miss Lefje Boissevain,
opened in Main St., Atherton, on Tuesday.
The shop is stocked with crystallized mineral specimens, including
amethyst which is imported from Brazil and others imported mainly
from Mexico, agate slabs from Brazil, jewellery such as gold and
silver edged agate made in Cairns, palm trees suitable for indoors
or patios and coffee tables with slate and agate inlays made by
Miss Boissevain’s father.
Miss Boissevain said her father had helped her set up the shop
and at this stage all the stock was bought from her father. Later
she said she hoped to buy from other dealers.
Miss Boissevain said the response from the public had been pretty
good so far.
“it’s a gamble to start off with, but people seem very interested,”
Miss Boissevain said. “they’re really fascinating.”
“I think people are more interested in the minerals,”
she said. “minerals are an investment and to enjoy looking
at, like a painting.”
Miss Boissevain said she gained experience in their business when
she worked after school and in her holidays in her father’s mineral
wholesale business in Holland in 1981.
“I know the minerals because I’ve been brought up with them
and they’ve always interested me,” she said.
31st May, 1983
“A real gem”
A major drawcard at Rusty’s Bazaar shopping centre in Cairns is
this imported Brazilian “geode” amethyst, priced at $690.
It was brought to the country by an Atherton mineral dealer, Mr
Rene Boissevain, and its brilliant purple and mauve colouring causes
most passers by to stop for a look.
Admiring the stone’s unique formation and colours is four year
old Luzena Adams.
TABLELANDER – 14th December, 1982
“Gemstone therapy for a better love life”
Looking for a cure for your headache, insomnia, or perhaps an uneasy
stomach? The answer could lie in gemstone therapy.
According to local gem expert, Rene Boissevain, gemstones were
believed by the ancients to have the power to relieve the symptoms
of many illnesses, plus an ability to calm bad temper, strengthen
self control and even to improve the quality of your love life.
Different qualities were attributed to different gemstones, for
instance, amethyst is reputed to be effective against headaches
and insomnia as well as protecting the wearer from drunkenness.
Aquamarine is supposed to help neuralgia and to bring happiness
On a recent trip to Europe, Rene found that gem therapy was sweeping
the Continent and he heard many first hand stories of seemingly
So when he returned home he decided to introduce the concept to
the Far North.
He has set up a series of attractive boards with beautiful polished
stones suitable for hanging from a chain. Each is accompanied by
a list of its particular virtues.
They will be for sale from local health shops.
Did Rene himself believe in gem therapy? “It seems to work,”
he says. “And in any case a beautiful gemstone for just $5
is a lot more fun than a box of pills.”
TABLELANDS ADVERTISER – 15th December, 1982
“Gemstones to make you healthy, wealthy & wise?”
Crystal balls, talismans and amulets are all part of the myth and
legend of various ancient cultures, and even today there are those
who hail the curative power of gemstones.
Atherton gemstone importer, Rene Boissevain, has been on the Tablelands
for 17 years and his first experience with the local rock industry
was a trip in 1966 with a fellow tobacco worker to dig for agates.
It was then that he decided to open up his gemstone business in
Atherton. In 1969 he returned to Holland to establish a rock shop
and museum “The Old Earth” in Giethorn in Holland, which
is still open today.
For years people have been coming to Rene’s shop and to his home
in Atherton asking for stones for “this or that ailment”,
and although he knew little about the supposed curative powers of
gemstones his curiosity was soon kindled enough to start reading
a few books.
Rene is not about to make any promises as to the virtues of various
gemstones, but he has done quite a bit of reading and often shares
what he ahs read with people who buy his stones or who are interested
in the theories of gem therapy.
One theory is that the stones redirect the energy within the human
body, creating a chemistry like reaction which can correct certain
physical ailments in certain ways.
Some maintain there are benefits from communication with a natural
substance, while another theory is that it is simply a psychological
effect – much the same as colours of, for example, the walls of
a hospital can create a certain frame of mind.
Perhaps a quote which best sums it up is “Each individual
is different, as is each stone, and the vibration comes from within”
- (Natura and Health Autumn 1982).
But whether or not we believe in the powers of certain stones to
make us healthy, wealthy and wise, there is still a tendency among
us all to intuitively wear the stone which will most benefit us.
A practice which hails from Poland and is fast gaining popularity
is the belief that 3each month is associated with and under the
influence of one or another precious stone.
For January the Jacinth or Garnet (whose possessors are
likely to be faithful and true)
February - Amethyst
March – Bloodstone
April - Sapphire or Diamond (which endows the virtues of
love, joy and purity)
May – the Emerald
June – the Agate, Chrysophase (eloquence and good luck)
July – Cornelian, or Ruby (protecting from harm by poison)
August – the Sardonyx
September – Chrysolite, Sapphire
October – Aquamarine, Opal
November – Topaz, Cats Eye (Chrysoberyl)
December – Turquoise, Malachite
Rene has complied a display case and collection of literature for
most Tableland health stores and in Cairns, which includes stones
he imported and supposed benefits of wearing them:
AMAZONITE: Held in high esteem by the ancient Egyptians and used
in ornamentation and jewellery. Although not generally accredited
with healing powers, it should be worn for beauty alone. It is said
to be aphrodisiac.
BLOODSTONE: (Heliotrope) Birthstone for March. Ancient Greeks and
Romans used this stone for easing labour in childbirth and the early
Christians claimed the red spots on the green stone were the blood
of Christ on the cross. It is said to stop bleeding when dipped
in cold water and applied t a wound. It is supposed to protect the
wearer from wounds, nose bleeds, bladder stones and haemorrhoids.
Also said to endow wisdom, idealism and sympathy.
AMETHYST: (birthstone for February) A beautiful purple gemstone
know for its colour. It is said to protect the wearer from drunkenness
and ensure justice. The Chinese are known to have rented them to
people involved in court cases.
Reputed as effective against headaches, especially migraine. In
cases of insomnia, gently rubbing the stone on the temple is supposed
to induce sleep.
AGATE: Probably has the widest variety of patterns and colours of
all stones. Named after the River Gata in Sicily where the stone
was first found. Reputed to give one courage, strengthen one’s heart
and protect the bearer from extravagance. Also said to have a cooling
effect on fevers and create a calming effect and improve hearing.
AQUARMAINE: means sea water and the blue in blue green colour of
this precious gem brings it to mind. It is the stone of clairvoyants
and mystics. Supposed to help against eye disease, neuralgia, swollen
glands, throat, jaw and tooth conditions. It is also a true gemstone
supposed to be useful for stomach and liver conditions. Reputed
to keep on young, fearless, warm hearted and faithful and give happiness
in marriage. It is another birthstone for March.
TIGER EYE: has a band of light which resembles an eye and was used
in ancient times to ward off the evil eye and to protect against
eye defeats. It is said to give the wearer increased insight into
himself and to enhance his outlook on the world. Tiger Eye is supposed
to help eye diseases, colds and to relieve cramps. This beautiful
stone is said to give one self confidence, its attractiveness alone
should do this.
ROSE QUARTZ: the soft lovely stone of Venus, is said to enhance
artistic ability, awareness of beauty, colours and musical sounds.
It is said to bring out creative ability. It is claimed to be the
stone of romance.
ROCK CRYSTAL: water clear quartz. The ancient Greeks believed it
to be ice turned to stone. It is sued to manufacture crystal balls
for fortune tellers. In hot summers the Romans used such spheres
to cool their hands. Rock crystal is reputed to be useful for diarrhoea,
dizziness and fainting, and is supposed to clarify knowledge and
conquer fear, therefore it is used for the centre of meditation.
ADVENUREINE: is the stone to give unexpected adventure. It is supposed
to bring good luck in love and in games, and is reputed to have
healing powers for skin diseases and to bring a sense of independence
and increase one’s self control. Mica inclusions in this green quartz
causes its beautiful glitter.
CARNELIAN: the stone of family togetherness. It is generally accounted
to increase fluency of speech, to protect against accidents, nightmares
and to stop bleeding. It has been claimed that it cures infections
and blood poising and reduces fever. Carnelian is a supposed to
help control violent temper and relieve rheumatism and neuralgia.
It is the birthstone for July.
RUTILATED QUARTZ: is a clear rock crystal with gold and red gold
hair like needles are known as Venus hairs. Rutilated Quartz, especially
in France, is reputed to be useful against bronchitis and other
RED JASPER: was an honoured gemstone in ancient Peru. It is supposed
to prevent stomach ache, destructive diseases and bladder stones.
It has been used to treat diseases of the liver, gall bladder and
kidneys, and anaemia and morning sickness. It is supposed to improve
willpower and a sense of smell.
SODALITE: is a beautiful mottled blue stone sometimes dishonestly
represented to be lapis lazuli. It is supposed to protect against
evil influences and is particularly good as a friendship stone.
It is reputed to brighten moods, promote healthy sleep and to purify
the blood. Sodalite is claimed to give confidence to shy children
and is said to be useful for head, spleen and skin diseases. In
addition to its pure beauty it is reputed to strengthen love.
For further information call into our local health store or phone
Rene on 91 2124.
“Copper plating on display at show”
Rene Boissevain and company, owners of Fascinating Facets have
recently acquired copper plating equipment and are now offering
a new and versatile service to Tableland people.
Their display at the Atherton Show next week will include items
that have undergone the copper plating process.
Visitors are invited to come and inspect the latest results of
Copper plating is not new – in fact it has been very popular overseas
for some years but until now there have been no facilities for doing
this type of work on the commercial basis in Queensland.
Rene says the technique is actually electroplating; a process preserving
the article in its entirety, so no detail of the original is lost.
In fact, smaller items can also have the added effect of 24 carat
gold plating if the customer so desires.
He says that almost anything can under go copper plating – the
only limit being the size of the article fitting into the tank available
Persons wanting to know more about the process should take advantage
of the opportunity to seeing the work on display at the Show and
further enquires are most welcome.
The Stand will include a selection of items from the Fascinating
Facets Shop in Atherton’s Main Street.
The Boissevain’s do all their own buying from Australia and overseas
and can assure customers of bona fide value and quality.
They also offer a large range of silver and gold chains at wholesale
prices, a jewellery designing and stone setting service and a comprehensive
collection of beautiful semi precious and precious gemstones.
“Keep it – in copper”
Copper plating has been very popular overseas for many years. Mothers
have their baby’s first shoes copper plated as a keepsake, roses
and many other flowers are copper plated, even that first tooth
to hang on a charm bracelet.
Soon a similar service will be available on the Tablelands.
Rene Boissevain, of Fascinating Facets, Atherton, said this week
that everything needed for the copper plating process was now set
up and almost ready to go, and very shortly, Fascinating Facets
would be offering a copper plating service at a price that everyone
One of the most exciting things about the new service, eh said,
was that it would almost certainly be the first commercial venture
of tis kind in Queensland and could be expected to attract business
from a very wide area.
Rene said there was virtually no limit to what could be copper
“Anything that stands still, we can do it. We are only limited
by the size of our tanks.”
He explained that the process is very similar to gold and silver
plating but very much cheaper which means that quite large objects
could be copper plated at an affordable price.
The copper can be left in its rich apricot toning, or given an
antique bronze finish which highlights fine details. A special lacquer
finish prevents tarnishing.
The process can be used not only to preserve mementoes but also
to cover articles like door knobs, car accessories, sculpture.
And what better trophy than the winning golf ball copper plated
“We can even do wheat or barley for decorative arrangements,
copper fruit – the possibilities are endless,” said Rene.
If you would like to know more about having an article copper plated,
call in to Fascinating Facets, Main Street, Atherton.