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Historical Society News
Two Life Members were nominated at the Historical Society's meeting on Sunday, 30 September. Someone who makes an extraordinary contribution towards the Society's goals and to the community, usually beyond the call of duty, is eligible for this rank in our membership classification.
Margie and Warwick Schofield are the honoured recipients, a team making a generous contribution to tourism that is highly valued. As retired teachers, they are thorough in whatever they undertake. Their love of books and nature prompted the development of brochures describing the local flora, fauna and geology of Lightning Ridge and environs. They have hosted Birdos doing the region's annual count, offered star-gazing evenings to those interested and led bush walks to identify native plants and trees. Margie's little shop, Opal Books, Etc is a hive of activity for all sorts of information.
When the Mines Department took the initiative to fence off the Lunatic Hill open cut then erected meaningful signs describing rehabilitation, history and geology at Lunatic Lookout, Safety Officer Warwick fine-tuned the project. He orchestrates the assembly of opal mining icons behind the fence; many are ingenious designs typical of our making-do life style. Eventually, these will be strategically positioned on the diggings, enhancing heritage tourism's opportunities.
In 2009, Lunatic Hill was given further provenance by the launch of the sixteenth edition of Ion Idriess' book, 'Lightning Ridge' to celebrate 100 years – the Schofields are serious Idriess collectors and worked several years to get this result. A plaque to Idriess' credit placed at Lunatic Lookout was modelled after one Warwick did in 1997 to commemorate Idriess' attendance at Primary School in Tamworth, NSW, 100 years earlier.
He also oversaw another Mines Department initiative – the fencing-off of iconic mine shafts, especially hand-shafts but also 3-ft drill shafts on the 3-Mile. These will link into an Old Chum's Wander that continues from the Opal Centre's Black Opal Shed down into the historical Nettleton precinct on the Flat. The Schofields have begun temporary labelling of flora on the track, a work-for-the-dole project supervised by the Historical Society through Best Employment.
We may remember Margie and Warwick Schofield in conjunction with Lunatic Hill – the setting for an heritage experience – but they are our Heroes not Lunatics! They are passionate about Lightning Ridge – having started as fossickers in 1968 then living the life as miners in 1998 – and leave their mark, an invaluable gift to the community.
Thank you Margie and Warwick, newest Life Members of the Lightning Ridge Historical Society!
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