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Snippets 24 June 2009
An interesting study that could run into the unprintable would be an A-Z of nicknames over the years. One of the ominous ones floating around the Grawin was Mungindi Charlie. This chap didn't seem to know which side of the border he was on when in the grip of the grog! Then there was Dirran for the man who had bandi legs.

And Herman the Shark, self-named to balance Honest John across Opal Street, is, of course, alive and well in 2009. However, tis very quiet at Potch Point since Have a Chat departed this earth. How has Castro the opal buyer from the 1970s, weathered in comparison to his namesake? Bingo at the 3-Mile is really Ingo by birth in Germany. Speck Rush and Russian George were his neighbours in the 1960s and 70s

Many remember the Piano Tuner on the 3-Mile, and always a friendly greeting from Dollar Bill in Morilla Street. We see Poverty Pete on a Friday in the town and was there ever a Gorgeous George? Mulder is better known as Cowboy said Oxford Terry. Santa Claus still keeps a low profile at Christmas.

Guess that's the beginning of a list in just five minutes so let's add to it. Slip your bits of paper under the Heritage Cottage door if you pass on a day that we're not open.
We'll keep you posted with the 'printables' but all genuine nicknames and descriptions will be documented.

Barbara Moritz
28 July 2009 01:02am
Snippets 17 June 2009
Victor Prendergast and his wife came to the Ridge on a coach tour late May and were amazed at the changes in their absence of 40 years. His father's people were on Glenhope near Wilcannia in the early 1900s. His aunt Sarah came this way with Ted Mooring, who set up a sawmill at Gooraway. He cut the timber in about 1912 for the little, one roomed schoolhouse still in use on the Central School campus in the Ridge.

The Gooraway Hotel was a Cobb & Co change post on Dungelear, along the old road between Walgett and Lightning Ridge near the intersection of the Dunumbral turnoff (from the Castlereagh Highway in 2009). Artie Dawson Senior was the hotel keeper there from 1898 to 1911. His first family of five children was born during that time.

Mooring's daughter Eva married widower Artie at Gooraway in February 1911. There were four surviving Dawson children when they moved onto Ingie in Queensland in 1913. Artie Junior preferred to stay with his Newton grandparents at Cumborah. Five more children were born by the time Artie Sr died in the 1919 influenza epidemic.

Eva Mooring Dawson brought the children to the Ridge where her parents, Ted and Sarah, nee Prendergast, and her sisters ran Mooring's butcher shop (later Dawson's Store 1961-1980) across from the Imperial Hotel. Ted died in 1921 and Eva remarried Alf McNaught who took over the butchery until 1924. They moved out to Dungle Bore on the Angledool/Collarenabri road. McNaughts had seven more children.

Victor Prendergast remembers visiting the Ridge all those years ago and calling into Dawson's Store. When he introduced himself, it didn't take Millie or 'Mah' Dawson long to make the connection back to her father-in-law's second family's great uncle, Tom and Flora Prendergast, Victor's parents.

His/hers/theirs/ trees can get pretty twisted, but think how confusing it'll be in years to come. There could be big surprises in store for many people trying to establish just who is related to whom. The folk song, 'I am my own Grandpa', may have real meaning to some!

Barbara Moritz
28 July 2009 01:01am
Snippets 10 June 2009
“Brisbane is not the only place with sandwich attitude,” says Frank Kelett of Terrigal in Column 8, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May 2009.

In Lightning Ridge some years ago he came across a shop with a big 'Sandwiches' sign. We inquired what sandwiches they had. “Mutton, tomato or cheese,” was the reply.

“I asked for a mutton and tomato sandwich and a cheese and tomato sandwich,” but was told somewhat grumpily, "Yiz can have mutton or cheese or tomato!”

Barbara Moritz
30 May 2009 04:18pm
Snippets 3 June 2009
Jeweller Glenn Regan returned to Lightning Ridge after 40 years and enjoyed getting acquainted with locals and gaining a sense of place for the setting of his novel, The Opal House.

Glenn's grandfather, Ted 'Stumpy' Regan, came to the diggings in 1906 with his mate, Ted 'Snowy' Brown, and married one of the Brown girls. Their son, Ted Junior, was born in 1917 and, in the 1920s during the Grawin rush, the family moved out to the fields to operate Regan's Store that specialised in cordials and sweets from family recipes.

Ted Junior came back to the Ridge in the mid 1930s to spend some time and learned to make doublets. For health reasons, he didn't go to WWII with his brother Tim and cousin, the late Bob Molyneux ,but later, he was Bob's partner in opal. After Tim Regan was shot on the tennis courts behind the Imperial Hotel in 1957, Ted never returned to the place of his birth.

In the 1960s, Ted dealt in Coober Pedy opal, working from home in Parramatta – buying, cutting and polishing – and Glenn is basing his novel on growing up in the Opal House and his father's stories. Two of Ted's four sons became jewellers. Glenn, the youngest, grew up with opal yet he sets mostly diamonds and other faceted stones. He lives in Laurieton not far from his widowed mother at Lake Cathie.

Out at the Grawin last week, Glenn met up with his cousin, hobby-jeweller Ian Birk, Snowy Brown's grandson. The chaps hadn't met since the 1960s and promised to keep in touch. In general, Glenn is impressed with the new face of opal – off-shapes and carved stones – and enjoyed catching up with a modern Lightning Ridge.

We'll see him again soon with renewed enthusiasm as he works towards publication of 'The Opal House' that will be in memory of his pioneering family. We can expect the launch on the diggings in the next couple of years. Thank you Glenn Regan for coming back to the Ridge.

Barbara Moritz

30 May 2009 04:17pm
Snippets 27 May 2009
Museums Australia National Conference was held in Newcastle 16-20 May. Also attending were representatives from historical societies, keeping places, heritage centres, memorials and art galleries from across Australia.

Barbara Moritz, secretary of the local historical society, was granted a bursary to join the 400-fold delegation. Guest speakers from the Netherlands, USA, China, South Africa,Thailand and Australia presented topics and workshops under the theme of 'Work in Progress'.

The most obvious outcome of such a conference is networking. Barbara chanced to sit beside a Canberra woman whose grandmother served as a bush nurse at Lightning Ridge in 1918. She also met the curator of the relatively new Brisbane's Mercy Heritage Centre.

Local bush nurse (1919-1921), Hannah Lucy, who graces the front windows of Heritage Cottage Hospital Gallery, joined the Sisters of Mercy at Brisbane as Sr Mary Audrey in 1924 and served 55 years. Our historical society will contribute to Mercy records in developing the profile of her earlier life and they will add to our records.

History-gathering institutions present exhibitions of objects and text supporting a theme, so viewers can gain knowledge and confidence to draw a conclusion and/or tell their own story relative to the theme. This job of gathering information is never ending. Indeed, 'Work in Progress' is the perfect title for the 2009 Museums Australia National Conference in Newcastle.

Barbara Moritz
27 May 2009 03:43am