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Snippets 14 October 2009
March 1912 by Gouger:
Rode up to the teamster's camp, beside the old two-mile pub outside Walgett (N.S.W.), just about dinner-bell, but didn't expect poultry with the damper. This is how the cook got it for me and the rest of the party. As the publican's fowls cackled round the wagon in search of stray crusts, the teamster threw them some corn which he had previously soaked in the publican's own whisky. Judging by the effect it had on the fowls, the whisky must have been real old time fork lightning. Ten grains had them fairly sozzled, and 20 grains made them blind, paralytic, soused. The rest was easy, and the stew was boshter.

Barbara Moritz
29 December 2009 06:32pm
Snippets 7 October 2009
Idriess' writing career lasted more than fifty years. Besides more than fifty books published through Angus & Robertson, 'Jack' was an active contributor to Australia's well-known publication, The Bulletin, that ran its last issue in 2008.

In commemoration of this popular magazine, avid Idriess book and memorabilia collector, Jim Bradly of Bolton Point, searched the Archives' microfilm for submissions by “Gouger”, Idriess' oft used pseudonym. The selections were published as Gouger of the Bulletin by the Idriess Foundation in 2008.

The following weeks of Snippets will feature those items relating to opal mining and particularly to the Lightning Ridge diggings. These snippets preview Idriess' writing style – he wrote a rattling good yarn – and may prompt you to read his books, all available at Opal Books, Etc in Morilla Street, and in libraries around Australia.

Barbara Moritz
29 December 2009 06:30pm
Snippets 30 September 2009
Ion Idriess started his writing career while opal mining in the 3-Mile rush, 1909-1910. He published his story in 1940 at the invitation of a mate at Lightning Ridge, John Landers, corresponding with the Walgett Spectator as Old Chum.

On page 84 of Lightning Ridge, Idriess reflects on opal: “To me it was a constant wonder that colours far out-rivalling the sun and stars, the birds and flowers and butterflies should lie buried in the abysmal blackness of the earth. And that these stones of surpassing loveliness were destined to flash again in the light of day only when manipulated by the hand of man. No other living thing that we know of in our world could have found and appreciated them. Can it be that these lovely things were actually planned and borne in the womb of time to await the coming of man and Eve?

Barbara Moritz

29 December 2009 06:28pm
Snippets 16 Sept 2009
The 1960s 3-Miler, Eric Catterall, is remembered as developing the self-tipping hoist concept. He needed to mine at his own pace because he'd suffered childhood polio and walked with sticks. Recently, it was mentioned that he also devised a gouging wheel.

Eric drove long nails in a particular diamond-pattern into a 1920s-width tyre, then hooked it up to a Villiers motor. This worked vertically into the wall as does a tunnelling machine work horizontally. Brilliant!

This tyre was cut and tied flat and stored in the ceiling of a 4-Mile carport for decades. The gouging wheel has now been donated to the historical society as a curious innovation, another example of recycling the recycled.

Eric's other passion was greyhound racing and he kept a few dogs in training by running them behind his Fergie tractor. He maintained a walk-in drive into the lea of the ridge at the Deep 4-Mile to use as a dog kennel– nice and cool. There were several discarded fridges lining the walls in which 'roo meat was stored.

Can anyone expand the Catterall Collection?
21 September 2009 07:44pm
Snippets 9 Sept 09
Great to have a quick response to last week's Snippets! Paul Pandel knew these men as living at the 9 Mile in the 1980s not off Aerodrome Road. Some of you may have come to the same conclusion.

Tommy Tattem had a neighbour 'Wobbly Boot', one Des (or Les?) Greenwood, who had the gallery of prosthesis legs on the fence. Anybody have a photo of this curiosity for us to scan? Just pop into Heritage Cottage Wednesday through Friday or check for the little white hatchback TEB down the back lane.

Thanks for your vigilance and keep the constructive comments flowing.

21 September 2009 07:43pm