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Snippets 20 January 2009
19 March 1930 by Gouger:
The new opal-field on the Grawon (N.S.W.), some 18 miles from Lightning Ridge, is very different from the old Ridge field in its manners. In the days when the “Three Mile”, “The Flat”, “Long Gully” and “Cantor's” (Editor's Note: probably “Canfells”) were flourishing 900 men made lively, the best “diggers' filed in Australia for many years past.

“Bull” Massey was boss of the vigilance committee, and a holy terror to “ratters” - dirty thieves who would sneak down a lucky digger's shaft at night, and working furiously, dig out hundreds of pounds' worth of opal while smashing hundreds of pounds' worth more in their ruthless haste. Many a digger with wealth in sight after 12 months of heart-breaking labour, has gone down in the morning to find his claim ruined.

It happened to me once. In any dispute over claims, the whole field would roll up to the tolling of deep-toned bullock bell. Massey, with his huge bare feet and bull roar, was sole arbitrator, enthroned on the highest dump. His judgements were never questioned.

“Cobar Mary” was a famous character of those days. She was a coal-black aboriginal, six feet high and broad in proportion. She could swear more fluently in the King's English than any white man I have known.

“Kelly the Rake” was one of the lads of that rollicking village, and among his colleagues was “Scandalous” Graham, the “Wild Colonial Boy”, the “Mad Scotchman”, “Smiling Jim”, “Tommy th' Loon”, “Old John”, “Darkie the Navvy”, “Lawyer Tom” and “The Count”. Our Count had a dinkum claim to his title, and Tom was a Gent, one in the long ago.

Barbara Moritz

27 January 2010 01:25pm