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Snippets 29 July 2009
Heritage Cottage will be open Thursday through Saturday during the 2009 Opal Festival. However, the Historical Society display at the event will feature some recently donated mystery photographs. We hope someone will come along and identify the 1950s miners – we think we know one of them. A mystery object will also be on display for your consideration.

Thursday night during the Festival, the Society and the Australian Opal Centre are sponsoring a free film evening at 7pm in the John Murray Room. This is a silent movie of mining machinery 1968-1974 made by Tom Crowe, a man well-known in that era. It will be followed by a very short film with a very big message made by local school children. There could be a second sitting!

See you all at the 2009 Opal Festival. Be sure and stop to say 'hello' and checkout the Historical Society display.

Barbara Moritz

28 July 2009 01:08am
Snippets 22 July 09
Fred Bodel was a shearer and came to the Ridge first in about 1905. He mined between sheds and settled finally on 3-Mile flat in the 1930s. He was fondly known by many as the ‘mayor on the 3-Mile' in earlier years. He died at age 92 in 1973.

In early July, his brother Sam’s granddaughter, Jan Hall, visited the Ridge for the first time, travelling with a good friend, Norm Munro, both of Canberra. Her parents were regular campers at Uncle Fred’s in the 1960s and she’d seen many photos of him at his 3-Mile flat hut. She and Norm took lots of photos and appreciated the ambiance of the place that is still in the hands of Fred’s family in 2009.

Jan loved the story about Fred’s one and only fiancé being photographed with another Bodel brother at the Sydney Royal Show in 1907. That was the end of the liaison and future contact between brothers. Another story was told by a lady on tour in the 1990s about Fred's one and only new car. She was a little girl when he used to stay with her family in Cowra in the 1930s.

Once he was on the way to Sydney to sell opal. Upon return, he was very proud of his shiny, new vehicle but no mention was made of the boot full of rum. Next thing they heard, Fred had driven right into a mineshaft! His family didn't hear about the incident until 70 years later.

Two years ago during school holidays, Jan Hall’s son Scott and family were in the Ridge and took home T-shirts bearing a silk-screened Bodel hut logo as designed by another of the younger generation (you can buy these at Black Opal Tours). This was Jan’s inspiration to finally visit the Ridge and she’s glad she did.

A Bodel family reunion will be held in Goulburn in 2010, which is not far from the Bodel home place, ‘Cherry Lea’, at Collector NSW.

Barbara Moritz
28 July 2009 01:07am
Snip 15 July 09
Recent visitors to the district were Ian Kennedy and his son, Andrew. Ian and his wife Berry managed Llanillo Station in the mid 1950s before their children were born. The men hadn’t been in the Ridge since 1974 and were agog at the changes. Couldn’t even find the pub! During their stint on the land near Cumborah, Walgett was the shopping centre as there was very little in the village of Lightning Ridge.

Over the years, the Kennedys had heard annually from the Knight family, known to them from the 1950s. They could link up with Sally Weeks at the Whiz-Bang Bargains who connected them up with Nick Deshon for a visit out to Llanillo. The original homestead was long gone but a prowl around the grounds still brought back memories and stories of a very different time.

Ian remembers that the Graham brothers came out to give a hand on the property. One time Ian called on them at their cottage in Morilla Street a bit too early in the day and was asked to please come back. Of course, George and Sid’s verandah hospitality was infamous. Upon return, Ian was welcomed by a scrubbed-up George, bright and cheery, and ready for the next session to begin.

The brothers took Kennedys around to look at some opal. They called on a few of the mates who were making ‘tinsel opal’ using foil sandwiched between a black backing and amber potch cap. Where was the really good opal? Don’t worry, they saw that too but not without expressing much more interest and putting some pressure on the Grahams who were young men then – in their 50s!

Ian and Andrew enjoyed looking through Heritage Cottage and the Hospital Gallery where there are photos of the times they remember, generating more memories and points of discussion. The Society is glad to be in contact with people who share their knowledge and stories of a bygone era. Ian has promised to send down a copy of his Llanillo memoirs.

Barbara Moritz
28 July 2009 01:06am
Snip 8 July 09
Is Lightning Ridge a village or a town?

The Lightning Flash newspaper, 21 Feb – 8 Mar 1980, reports:

‘A Western Lands’ spokesman advised us this week that Lightning Ridge was officially declared a town on 15 February 1980.

Documentation was initiated by the Walgett Shire Council last November to change our status from a village to a town. The Geographical Names Board of NSW (Act 1966) gazetted notification to this effect on 14 December and allowed one month’s notice for any protests to be lodged. We understand street numbering is in progress.’

Barbara Moritz
28 July 2009 01:05am
Snippets 1 July 2009
Tony Donnolly and family from Dubbo were in Lightning Ridge on the weekend. They spent Sunday at Hebel, as is their tradition, 15 miles from the family property 'Home View, a soldier settler block his grandfather, Jack Donnolly, drew in 1918.

Donnolly's butcher shop in the Ridge is the one Ted Mooring took over. A recent Snippets mentioned Moorings coming into the village from Gooraway where they'd run a sawmill. The shop was on the corner across from the Imperial Hotel and, later, became Dawson's Store – Artie Dawson Sr had married Eva Mooring in 1911. Maude's Cafe occupied the building in recent times. It burned in 2003.

When Jack Donnolly moved his large family over the border, his daughter, the late Grace Molloy, remembered clinging to the clothes line at the 6-Mile Tank (now Beckett's) on the Travelling Stock Route along the Castlereagh Highway. She was 5 years old and didn't want to leave her home.

Her widowed Granny Donnolly lived in Lightning Ridge so some sisters stayed to finish their schooling. Grace also told the sad story of the death of her 14-year-old sister, Annie, killed when her horse ran into the top wire of a new fence being strained. Many Donnolly descendants are still in the district.

The Dubbo Donnollys are planning a family reunion in the Ridge at Easter 2011 to celebrate 100 years of the Lightning Ridge Race Club. Tony gave the Society the tiny dance card used by his Gran at the ball held after the first race meeting in late 1911. It is in pristine condition and one of our earliest treasures from the formative years.

Barbara Moritz
28 July 2009 01:03am