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Snippets 9 February 2005
It was October in 1903 that Nettleton and Murray set out for White Cliffs with their first parcel of black opal. The Opal Miner newspaper edition dated 14 November reported the return of former White Cliffs miner, Charlie Nettleton. Lately, the Lightning Ridge opal fields were creating lots of interest as the local population drifted away and opal production dropped off. Ted Murphy was the prominent buyer at White Cliffs at the time. He was an agent for Tullie Wollaston of Adelaide, the man who had travelled the country and overseas to establish a market for Australian opal. Murphy had seen Queensland’s black opal in amongst the usual boulder, but not such a consistency in quality nor the nodules as seen in the parcel presented by Nettleton and Murray. He was willing to take the gamble, and paid the men £15, with the promise of a possible balance to follow. Wollaston was equally enthusiastic about the potential of black opal and an unknown balance was indeed forthcoming.

Barbara Moritz, Secretary
27 March 2006 01:11am
Snippets 2 February 2005
Although Nettleton’s first shaft on Angledool Station’s land proved to be a duffer, Charlie continued prospecting, moving onto the ridge near Dunumbral Run’s Wallangilla Tank. Prevalent was the familiar seam opal known to him from mining at White Cliffs. This became known as Sims Hill, site of the first opal rush in 1905 – this year we celebrate 100 years! Jack Murray, once boundary rider on this adjacent property, had been mining full-time since his dismissal for not looking after the country (but rather digging it up!). Others were early on the field - the Canfells, Mick, Tom and Jim, along with Bill Buckley, Watty Hennessy (probably Henness, Jack Murray’s brother-in-law), and Ted Bishop. Whenever the sheds cut out, the shearers were back mining! It was mid-1903, when Nettleton and Murray settled into a working partnership at the Nobby field, indicative of a predominance of nodules rather than seam opal. Ferris of the Syndicate had received the sampling from Nettleton’s initial efforts back from Sydney. The offer had been so measly, a return-request was honored, and the Syndicate disbanded, paying Nettleton the balance on the books, £5.

Barbara Moritz, Secretary
27 March 2006 01:10am
Snippets 26 January 2005
The Syndicate formed to support the first shaft sunk by Nettleton, a professional prospector, was organized by Joe Beckett, keeper of the Weetalibah Hotel, coach change station, on the road from Walgett to Angledool township. In 1902, Beckett instigated a group of six district businessmen and property managers to support Nettleton’s endeavors. Members were Armitage, Manager of Dunumbral Run, W.F.Ferris, Manager of Bairnkine (Georongera) Station, Mr.Langloh Parker, once owner but still a resident of Bangate Station, and their bookkeeper Frank Doucott, also a Collarenebri storekeeper, plus Beckett. Each man put in £25 to be managed by Mr.Ferris. He paid Nettleton £2.10.0 weekly to sink a shaft at today’s McDonald's 6-Mile above the Lightning Ridge Tank (sunk 1887), then on Angledool Station, known today as Beckett’s Tank. By the way, the last Cobb & Co run in NSW was the Hebel - Goodooga - Angledool route in 1913. In the early years, coaches ran under that title, regardless of the name of the company. Everyone knew what you were talking about when you said you were travelling by “Cobb & Co” – a coach!

Barbara Moritz, Secretary
27 March 2006 01:10am
Snippets 19 January 2005
One hundred and two years ago, Charlie Nettleton was still sinking his first shaft at today’s McDonald’s 6-Mile under the Syndicate’s support. He bottomed in February 1903, following a natural slide down to 55 feet, with no trace of opal. One comment made later by other miners was that if Nettleton had done as much driving as he did sinking, he’d have been a rich man! Mrs Ryan, the boundary rider’s wife, lived with her family at the Lightning Ridge Tank below the ridge. She had fossicked the pretty black rocks she showed Nettleton, a professional prospector, passing through the district. His knowledge of opal was based on White Cliffs mining, and thanks to his experience, black opal came to the world’s notice earlier than it might have. 2005 marks 100 years since the first opal rush at Sims Hill. We’ll work through the sequence in the next Snippets.

Barbara Moritz, Secretary
27 March 2006 01:09am
Snippets 21 September 2005
Black Opal, one of many published poems by Laurie Hudson, postmaster of Cumborah 1947-1965, hangs in the Hospital Gallery behind Heritage Cottage. It was republished in 1996 for the occasion of the village centenary. Bill, youngest son of Laurie and Mary, was in the Cottage last weekend and remembered eating in the kitchen when he was 8 years old (1942). His father was managing Bendeena Station before they moved to the Ridge for a spell at Nobby’s.

They also lived at the Grawin in a tent not far from Harry Sack’s. Another German, Walter someone and known as ‘Wingy’, was minus a hand so could only noodle the dumps! Bill remembers having to stoop to enter his diminutive hut nearby. The Hudsons bought the Cumborah post office from Roger Bux, only son of the man who built it, Cream Bux, originally a hawker in the district. Bill took a drive ou