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Snippets 18 April 2012
In late April, a Seniors Group of the Institution of Surveyors, NSW will spend the weekend in Lightning Ridge as they follow Major Mitchell's fourth expedition route. They will officially mark the Narran River crossing in Walgett Shire at the Jimmy Harper Bridge at Angledool.

Walgett Shire Council has prepared a pull-out space on the east side of the Castlereagh Highway before the bridge for the commemoration plaque to Major Mitchell's crossing. It will be unveiled by Mayor Bill Murray at a time to be announced in next week's Community News. The interested public is encouraged to attend this ceremony at the Jimmy Harper Bridge, Angledool.

Saturday evening, 28 April, Emeritus Surveyor John Read, will give a power-point presentation about “The Controversial Major Mitchell”. John is not an historian, but he brings to his subject the almost innate sense of history that a surveyor has in his work and an appreciation of the difficulties and hardships that a surveyor like Major Mitchell would have had to endure in the field, in the office, and in the Public Service.

John worked in the NSW Lands Department as a Surveyor, Town Planner, Valuer and Administrator for most of his professional career. Since retirement, he has been managing the Major Mitchell Commemorative Project with its aim of making Mitchell and his explorations better known in NSW.

The travelling NSW Surveyors and friends will dine together at the Club before John Read's presentation in the John Murray Room at 8pm. All are welcome to gather and get acquainted with the members of this dedicated group.

Barbara Moritz
16 April 2012 06:21pm
Snippets 11 April 2012
The opening of the Easter Exhibition “100 years of the little wooden school house: 1912-1950s” was delayed when a notoriously cheeky, early pupil 'wagged' the Good Friday event!

In the meantime, early pupils conversed and discussed class lists and dates in relation to exhibited photographs and also shared school memories. It was a good turn-out on a beautiful morning.

School alumni attending included Kevin Dawson, Ray Brown, Jennifer Francis Colless from Walgett, Teresa Molyneux Peady, Chris, Felicity and Damien Waterford from Sydney. Parents of past pupils could join in – Cally Dominick, Pat Waterford, Len Cram, George Mulder, Joy Webb and Yvonne Woodcock. The latter two ladies work at the school and Rhiannon Noltorp is a substitute teacher. Also in company were long-time locals Graeme Anderson, Max Channon and Sandy Thorne, who continue to support to the community. Members and friends listened with interest and joined the chuckling.

A special feature in the exhibition is a 2-pupil wooden desk that serves as a table for the Memories and Class List books associated with the photographs. This pristine piece of furniture was donated by Garry Yeo – we had to restrain ourselves from carving our initials!

Heritage Cottage Hospital Gallery will open reliably on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and whenever Granny is sitting out on the front verandah. Volunteers man the Cottage 10-4pm or ring for an appointment on 0419 639 120. The current exhibition supports the Back to School centenary event September, 21-23.

Barbara Moritz
16 April 2012 06:15pm
Snippets 4 April 2012
The General Meeting of the historical society on 18 March was lightly attended but much enjoyed. Visitors Janell and Kevin Wheelock were present and shared their story of discovery about her Grandpa Fred Chatterton's stint at Lightning Ridge before WWI.

Seniors Week was a busy one with three Mystery Hystery Tours onto the diggings. Stops at the historical sites we never have time to visit proved enlightening after the cuppa on the Hospital Gallery's verandah – a time to get acquainted and have a last look at the 2011 Exhibition. The 2012 exhibit is a work-in-progress for the Easter opening and the beginning of the tourist season.

“100 years in the little wooden school house: 1912-1950s” will be launched Good Friday, 10.30am. Early pupils at the original, modest, wooden school house, now nestled within the modern multi-million dollar complex, will be present. Memorabilia will complement photographs.

All are welcome. Join us on the BNA verandah behind Heritage Cottage in Morilla Street (next to the Crocodile Caravan Park) and linger for refreshments and reminiscing. Meet like-minded people and get acquainted with the historical society facilities. There is a certain charm about the place and you may wish to become a member and/or a volunteer.

Barbara Moritz
16 April 2012 06:14pm
Snippets 28 March 2012
Janell & Kevin Wheelock live in Bremerton near Seattle USA and came to Lightning Ridge in January during their 6-month tour. They hoped to discover more about Janell's adventuresome, Australian grandfather, Fred Chatterton, who died in 1971 in Sydney, before she had a chance to meet him. Fred was born in Wales about 1888, left San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and was in the Ridge before WWI.

Janell arrived wearing her grandmother's treasured pendant that displays little amethysts and a photo of Fred in his military uniform. In her pocket she was bringing a rubbed, crystal nobby 'home' to the Ridge. The pendant is a gift from Janell's 92 year-old mother, Gwen Ahlers, Fred's daughter. She met her American Army Air Corps husband during WWII and lives in Ohio, where Janell was born. Not long ago, Janell helped her mother regain her Australian citizenship.

This is Janell's 29th trip to Australia but her first time on the opal fields. The Wheelocks are campers and found it novel to potentially get isolated by local flood waters. While they awaited roads to reopen, Grandpa Fred's nobby was cut and polished into two stones. When they did get away, it was their intention to return to the Ridge before heading back to USA, and they got here a week ago.

In the past few days, they decided to get Fred's green-purple crystals set. The larger stone features in Janell's prized pendant with her grandfather's photo on the reverse side. She sports the companion crystal in a ring. Janell and Kevin will depart the Ridge shortly with many happy memories and new friends – more stories – and an increased opal appreciation. Like so many, they are hooked on the Ridge and look forward to their return.

Barbara Moritz
16 April 2012 06:13pm
Snippets 21 March 2012
Once again the historical society offers three free Mystery Hystery Tours during Seniors Week on March 20, 22 and 23 at 10am. Please join us on the back verandah (next to the Crocodile Caravan Park) for a cuppa and final glimpse of the 2011 photo exhibition before each tour.

The trip around the diggings takes us to the 6-Mile's Nettleton's First Shaft Lookout, the Abraxas and Beer Can House – the latter two of more recent notoriety. Then we head back to Bill O'Brien Way and onto the Castlereagh to the rest stop and site of the naming of Lightning Ridge. We return via the 4-Mile mining road to the 3-Mile's Lunatic Hill open cut.

The purpose of the tours is to acquaint ourselves with the historical plaques that have been placed over the years by the historical society, celebrating 30 years in 2012. Appreciating our early history reinforces why we live here!

Departure to the diggings is at approximately 11am. The little bus only holds 8 passengers so you'll need to ring 0419 639 120 and book a seat on the day of your choice – Tuesday, Thursday or Friday.

Barbara Moritz
22 March 2012 01:59pm