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Snippets 18 October 2006
Morilla Street in Lightning Ridge is said by some to be spelled incorrectly. Moorillas are ‘low hills’ in a local aboriginal dialect and are descriptive of the ridgey country on the opal fields. Morella Station near the Grawin, established for over one hundred years, occupies this same sort of country, i.e. low pebbly ridges.

In 1910, Morilla Canfell was the first little girl born in the Street. ‘Milly’ later married Jack Murray Jr., second son of the founder of the opal at the Ridge as well as the first registered miner, Jack Murray.

Morella seems to have a more aesthetic quality, compatible with ‘low hills’, but Morilla has gone down in Lightning Ridge history on a survey map and with the birth of a child. Is the variation in spelling because the aboriginal dialects were not a written language?

Barbara Moritz
29 October 2006 03:53pm
Snippets 11 October 2006
The names of our streets have to do with famous opals, geology and local history. A W Mullen’s original survey of Lightning Ridge in 1907 named Harlequin, Gem, Kaolin and Onyx as the village boundaries. Morilla Street was the main street. Three streets ran east/west and five streets ran north/south. Brilliant, Opal and Agate Streets are named.

Today, we’ve extended well and truly up the ridge and are built over old diggings. Len Cram as our first Counsellor on Walgett Shire Council back in the 1970s had plenty to do with naming the streets in the town extensions.

There’s no mining allowed under the town these days but it’s a place you don’t mind moving the swimming pool around the back yard – you might just pay for it!

Barbara Moritz

29 October 2006 03:50pm
Snippets 4 October 2006
Visitors inquire regularly about family history. Miners were transient but many names are on our register of early pioneers, thanks to the diary of our early Surveyor A W Mullen, a man who served Western Lands into the 1920s.

He described the land – also flora and fauna – in great detail. We have copies of these notes in our collection, thanks to Barry Hayes, former secretary of Western Lands. The layout of the original settlement, Wallangulla, is carefully sketched, even the buildings are described – hessian, bark, tents, bough, bag, tin.

A surveyor’s map has been re-presented by the Society. It names early miners on the field as well as residents. You can view it and/or obtain a copy at Heritage Cottage. Old Flash newspapers also are a fun thing to send to family and friends. We have a selection thanks to members of the community.

Heritage Cottage Hospital Gallery will be open through October on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, 10-4pm or by appointment. Our doors close November – March.

Barbara Moritz
4 October 2006 04:08pm
Snippets 27 Sept 2006
Darkie Anderson mined here in the early years and we read of his adventures and opal finds in the Walgett Spectator, thanks to John Landers, the local correspondent. We’ve republished some of these articles in An Old Chum Remembers. Five of Darkie’s nine children are still living and in recent years, two granddaughters have called in. One even has claims at the Grawin.

Recently, the family sent us four photos set at Lightning Ridge. One we already had but a new one complements it (same men in a different pose). Another new photo complements the photo from Ion Idriess’ book ‘Lightning Ridge, again, same men in a new pose.

The fourth photo is a close-up of miners standing in front of a canvas building. A rabbit has just been shot and is dangling on a crossbar amongst the proud group. Some faces are familiar.

Our early photo collection is very revealing about life on the opal fields before WWI. Along with the stories told, we can get a grip on what conditions might have been. People were surprisingly mobile, even large families. I wonder if they complained about the roads as we do in 2006?!

Barbara Moritz

4 October 2006 04:06pm
Snippets 20 September 2006
Ruth Davis Ross, Stretch’s wife, formerly Ridge residents, has discovered her family connection to the Legges, owners of the Imperial Hotel 1909-1927. It burnt to the ground and they did not wish to rebuild but rather sold the leased land and liquor license to Charlie Thomas of Walgett, who rebuilt in 1928.

Leah Davis married Richard Legge in 1898. They didn’t live at Lightning Ridge but visited. George, Richard’s brother, managed the 22-room hotel for the first year then sold the lease to run the hotel to A Renisch.

In the Davis family history book, Ruth found two photos – one of the Imperial Hotel we already had from a Legge granddaughter – is on view in the Hospital Gallery behind Heritage Cottage. One sees the timber construction with uprights on the outside of the building, an economical way of building in earlier years, just the same as the BNA that is today’s gallery space.

The other photo is of Leah Legge with her favorite horse in front of the stables behind the Hotel. The Society was able to send Ruth a wedding photo of the Legges as well as a snap of them in 1929, a small thank you for sharing her discovery.

Barbara Moritz

4 October 2006 04:02pm