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Snippets 15 October 2008
Well, Time Capsule 2008 has gone into the ground thanks to Greg Lane and his Dingo. About 30 friends and visitors came to the back yard of Heritage Cottage for the event and others sent apologies. Historical Society patrons, Winn White and George Mulder, dropped the first fistfuls of earth around the Capsule with their silent wishes for 50 years hence. Movers and shakers for TC08, Barbara Moritz and Dave Galman, nodded their heads with satisfaction.

Joyce Canfell McIntosh from Charleville was surrounded by three generations – her daughters Kaye and Desley, one of Kaye’s sons, Brett Walton, two of Desley’s three children, Adam Schefe and Amanda and her children, Madison and Aiden Schefe. Desley told us a couple of her mother's memories of life at the Ridge in 1939 when widower Mick Canfell brought his youngest children back after 25 years in Queensland. He and brothers Tom and Jim were among the first seven miners on the field in 1903, thus Canfell’s opal field adjacent to the town in 2008.

Pat Waterford, matriarch of Lorne Station, came up from Dubbo to be with us on the day. She remembered 1947 when she and Bill arrived to the new world of opal mining on their land. By the time they decided to sell the 3-Mile opal fields and northerly extensions to Western Lands in 1984, a thousand sheep went missing annually – everyone seemed to want a roast dinner! Marianne Webb joined her mother in dropping earth around the Capsule.

Gordon Ranger, Fred Bodel’s grand-nephew, happened to be in town. He didn’t recall early visits to Fred’s hut with his parents, Barn and Rita Ranger, but rather when he returned as an adult in 1953. As a strapping young man he got paid to sink shafts by hand, down on the flat for the old timers. Gordon regaled us with new stories of the legendary ‘cranky’ Fred and confirmed a few others. We now have a photograph of Fred’s only fiancé taken with his brother Bill – Fred never spoke to HIM again either!

Bob Hewlett piped up that he had camped next to Fred when he came to Lightning Ridge in 1962. Bob was sure he’d met Gordon as a new chum and it was noted that they shared a few quiet laughs on the side. Good to meet again after nearly 50 years.
Len Cram sent his apologies on the day but we reported his comment that in 1964, there were but 34 opal miners on the fields at the Ridge.

Rhonda White spoke on behalf of her family, partner Garry Yeo and White’s Pharmacy. She and her mother Winn came to the Ridge in 1970 to join Lew who helped Sandy Randell set up the Walk-in Mine. Rhonda’s wish for 2058 is that the terrible diseases – especially cancer, MS and heart disease – will all have a cure. This was a powerful conclusion to a casual event under the gum trees at the Ridge.

The Canfell gang adjourned to meet cousin, Mick, our local dumpster keeper. Mick is the son of Roy, Joyce’s late brother, and some of her children had met him in January for the first time. Bet Mick’s shed was lively with reminiscing and laughter when the Canfells gathered Saturday night. We know we’ll see them back in the Ridge and youngsters, Madison and Aiden, have promised to be here in 2058 when the Time Capsule comes out of the ground! No doubt, some of you will be here too.

Barbara Moritz
15 October 2008 11:31pm
Snippets 8 October 2008
Pamela Smith, local Linda Collins’ mum, has donated her red nursing cape to Nurse Lucy at the Cottage Hospital Gallery. She wore it when she trained between the Royal Canberra Hospital (imploded in 1990s) and the Wodon Nalled Hospital (Canberra Hospital in 2008).

Pam’s original training commenced in 1965 in the Toowoomba General Queensland – Nurse Lucy trained in Toowoomba in 1912 but in a private hospital. After just two years, Pamela left to marry Linda’s father, a returned Viet Nam solder.

Nurse Lucy came away to Lightning Ridge in 1919 to decide on a wedding proposal but returned to Brisbane in 1921 and rather joined the Sisters of Mercy. The new cape certainly brightens up her display window on the verandah of the restored 1915 building behind Heritage Cottage, 9 Morilla Street.

Thanks to people like Pam, our collection grows. So also has our text and photographic collection expanded through Time Capsule 2008 submissions. Come down for the planting of the capsule in the back yard on Saturday, 11 October at 3pm. You’ll have time to linger and see Nurse Lucy and her new red cape.

Barbara Moritz

7 October 2008 05:30pm
Snippets 1 October 2008
Gone are the days when miners built their own cabins out of local stone. Ken Mawhinnew (Scottish heritage) was back and had a look around his old home, Barrakee, a stone cottage he built in the early 1970s. He was great mates with the late Barclay brothers, Lance and Terry. Ken built on the corner of their 3 Mile MPL and mined during winter months around that area for 27 years.

For the past few years the giant stockpile of opal clay from the Lunatic Hill Open Cut occupies much of that area. Ken saw the beginning of the open cut and has photos to show the development. He’s given us access to his collection for posterity and has enjoyed catching up with Lightning Ridge in a new century. He could only grin and shake his head when he saw the Car Door Explorer out to Lunatic Hill.

Barrakee is silent in 2008 but was a great meeting place in the formative years of the 1970s. Ken didn’t strike the ‘big one’ at the Ridge but is rich in stories and he shared a few of them with us on the weekend. He glimpsed a few of the old mates and reckons it seems oh, so quiet. To the listeners, his stories give hope for livelier times.

Barbara Moritz
7 October 2008 05:28pm
Snippets 24 Sept 2008
Bob Bishop is another one who has no recorded burial spot at the Lightning Ridge cemetery. We have the 1962 Walgett Spectator obituary plus a first hand account from his 94-year-old niece, Hazel Gamble, of Sydney.

The family has contributed towards a bronze plaque to be placed on a quiet spot in the front of the Church of England section. Its location balances that of old-timer, Eric Catterall, who suffered the same fate of having no recorded plot.

The late Frank Gunnarson knew just where his friend Eric had been put to rest in 1977 so placed a plaque to honour his friend. We credit Catterall with developing the simple spring brake mechanism on the automatic hoist in the 1960s.

It is never too late to mark a friend or relative’s grave.

Barbara Moritz
21 September 2008 07:55pm
Snippets 17 Sept 2008
Jack Mac (McNamara) was the entertainer on the opal fields in the early years. He played the piano for dances at the Mechanic’s Institute in Nettleton on 3 Mile flat then at Frank Martin’s Hall (behind the late Terry Barclay’s house) in New Town. As a matter of fact, in 1928 Jack struck a patch of opal and bought the community a new piano. He was born in Carinda and his wife Violet nee Jewell was a Walgett girl. They had seven children.

Jack’s granddaughter Vanessa Gilbert and her husband Geoff spent a few days in town last week sharing family history. She had been in the district once in the 1960s. They visited McNamara’s Field across from Bird of Paradise Gallery on the Yellow Car Door Tour as well as Billy Goat Hill (at the top of Agate Street behind the pre-school) where the McNamaras lived when they relocated into New Town.

The Gilberts visited a cousin in Brewarrina for the day and passed through Walgett to catch up with family on their way back to Sydney. Jack died in his mine in 1935, probably of a heart attack. Vanessa had hoped to find Jack’s grave but there is no record of his burial. There are many unmarked graves at the Ridge cemetery.

Presently, white crosses are being placed on disturbed plots as identified with satellite survey. We hope to present a board of names for those unmarked graves in due course, which will help families seeking the final resting place of loved ones.

Barbara Moritz
21 September 2008 07:53pm