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Historical Society News
Opale School at Wallangulla, the original settlement, opened in 1907 with 21 pupils. As the 3-Mile rush of 1908 gained momentum, Nettleton became established just three miles along the ridge on the Flat. By 1910, most families had relocated from 'Old Town' to the booming 3-Mile.
The provisional school at Nettleton operated officially from 1911-1913. However, in 1910, 16 families provided 38 pupils – 25% were Bruces and their cousins – for instruction. The first teacher lasted but three weeks. Tommy Gibson taught until the Nettleton School pupils transferred into the 'New Town'. The government had cancelled commercial leases and called for consolidation into the surveyed area – officially known as Wallangulla but called Lightning Ridge.
We have on tape – as told in 1988 by Jean Parker, a former pupil – the details of Teacher Gibson's curriculum and teaching techniques in the canvas school at Nettleton. She mentions the class photo, one printed in the March 1912 Town & Country Journal along with a photo of the new little school house at Lightning Ridge.
Parker's given us important local information of the day – she was there when Nettleton was named and wonders what became of it. Her family moved to Walgett when the school closed and her father wasn't having any luck with opal. She laments never having returned to Lightning Ridge.
Even though the Imperial Hotel opened in the 'New Town' in late 1909, the miners preferred to live near their mines. Then, in 1911, the first post office went up in Morilla Street; also a wooden school house was completed by September. Leasehold blocks were available. Street names reflected the terminology of geology. By WWI, relocation was mostly complete and the wooden school house was buzzing with pupils. (continued in 20 September 2012)
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