How did I end up HERE?
Warwick Sherman has lived in Huntleys Point for just over 30 years. A third generation opal dealer – his grandfather being one of the early pioneers – now turned “part time” real estate developer as well as father of one, Warwick has a wicked sense of humour, an equally wicked blog… and did have Lymphoma, cancer of the blood.
Warwick agreed to answer five fast questions for DHH.
Do you mind people asking about your health, or do all the questions just annoy you?
Not at all, it just gets a bit repetitive. I’m certainly not embarrassed by having Lymphoma nor the “attention” it brings. The reason I started the blog was, initially to amuse myself during my first chemo treatments in 2011, but also to let all my friends know what was going on hospital and treatment wise, making medical conversations irrelevant and unnecessary, allowing us to talk about the other stuff that was going on in our lives.
I received a huge amount of press before we won Division 2 of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in 2012. “Yachtsman beats cancer” and I was even “play of the day” on Channel 10, interviewed by them before the race and again, at 4am, when we landed after the race. Liam Cox the interviewer, said the story was one of the most popular of the year, which is very gratifying. Most men hide this stuff but I’ve learned speaking out helps to inspire others, and I have spoken to various groups about my journey. I have plenty of requests for my irreverent and politically incorrect blog – to send friends and other sufferers, to show that you can get through this stuff, with the right attitude. All feedback has been remarkably positive.
You gave up your position in the family opal business because of the endless travel. Most people LOVE travel… has a travel-less life been all you imagined?
Except in the very beginning, all my travel was to Hong Kong or Japan. Great places for a few visits, but tough if you return just to sell, not party! I travelled on weekends, to maximise business days. Add the fact I travelled alone, so dining in a nice restaurant, all of a sudden, is not so sexy! Drinking and carousing when your 18-30 is fine, but after that… Also the other exciting travel destinations were the opal fields, primarily Lightning Ridge, and that’s not an exciting “destination”….no Four Seasons there, believe me. We have a house there which I call the “Fibro Hilton”. To top it off I had to fly in small chartered planes which are to me, pretty scary. Give me Sydney to Hobart any day over little aircraft! Honestly, I have enjoyed the “real travel” I have done since the opal business……Europe, the Maldives, New York and upstate, Egypt and most recently South America….I even swam in the Amazon and have photos to prove it!
Real estate or opals… in a perfect world, which one would you prefer?
The opal industry was fantastic, especially in the early 70’s to 90’s. Sherman Opals, our family business, is the oldest established opal business in the world, started in 1896 by my grandfather, Ernest. With the death of my grandfather in the early 50’s, my father Greg took over. Finally my brother Pete and I followed suit, in 1970 and 1973 respectively.
Opal is such a beautiful stone, it is really under appreciated in Australia. We had offices and agents in New York, Switzerland and Hong Kong. Peter still owns and runs the business, but the demand from Japan and America has waned, causing the business to falter. Supply is difficult and many of the old time miners are now retired. Property is just numbers and writing cheques, I certainly don’t get my hands dirty! I have refurbished four Heritage Listed buildings in the city. I like commercial real estate as the rental returns are far superior to the returns residential real estate yields. Having said that anyone in residential property since about 2008 has done very well with capital appreciation.
My preference? The old days of the opal business of course! Just like the Wild West.
Keeping it PG, what has been your biggest “how did I end up HERE” moment?
Where did I end up? Well, I sold out from the opal business in June 1999 and did nothing for a couple of years. I restored three of the aforementioned buildings whilst I was still in the opal business, so when an opportunity arose to restore another much larger building, in partnership with a very good mate, I decided that I would do one more. If this is the “How did I end up here?” moment it was a journey, frustrating at times, financially stressful at times and with hindsight – the best thing I ever did. For the past 17 years I really haven’t worked but I have played a lot of golf, skied and sailed 1000’s of miles mainly in offshore races! I really do find that work just takes up too much of the day, so I choose not to do it!
In your blog, you have some words you live by… “deny everything” seem to playfully suggest you’ve been in a few scrapes. Got any advice for staying out of serious trouble?
Only been arrested once……and I’m sure it was a case of mistaken identity, George Cooney and I are, after all, Doppelgangers. NOT!!! Maybe a cross between Mick Malloy and Fabio!!! No Police record (they couldn’t prove a thing…..) and I don’t even like Sting anyway! No, never actually been in “real” trouble (sorry): see there we go again, denying everything!!!! Depth and texture are words I live by….(how deep and how heavy the sh*t I’m in). “Trouble” is a word that is often misunderstood by authorities: what some would call good honest fun, others would call a misdemeanour!
Make sure you keep a firm hold on the boat especially when in Bass Strait, would be some sage advice. You’re in serious trouble if at any time, you are not on the boat!! Depth and Texture again…
Thanks for being part of our interview series, Warwick. You really are larger than life and we have no doubt your gorgeous Fabio-like locks are starting to grow back. Happy to be of service! Indeed two years from now you won’t recognise me!
While we can’t publish your blog on our family friendly site, if someone wanted to read it how can they get in touch with you?
Would be so kind as to send it out to any DHH readers on my behalf? I’ll send you the Egypt one… there are some really funny lines in that.
Sure thing, thanks Warwick.
So if ever we need help buying opals or breaking into real estate… you’ll take our calls?
Absolutely….… I’ll have to sell the real estate at whatever the market will bear, but the opals will be “wholesale” via Pete and Valia at Sherman Opals (02) 9233 6355. Thanks Alison, it’s been a pleasure meeting you here at David and Matt Ward’s soiree in the ever amazing Ottimo’s, and I’m loving the DHH energy in our community.
It’s also been a pleasure meeting you and sharing your story, Warwick.
Connect us with someone you’d like to see interviewed for our “How did I end up HERE?” series, email Alison firstname.lastname@example.org
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