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Snippets 27 July 2011
Heritage Cottage will be closed during the Opal Festival with full focus on the Historical Society display at the Bowling Club's Pub in the Club area. Our range of publications will be available along with other items.

New on the display this year is the unique Bitz Bag featuring Linda Jackson's donated vintage hand-prints – a designer accessory for all occasions. And, under 100 tickets for Zena the dolly, are yet to be sold before the raffle is drawn during the weekend. Also, Graeme Anderson, local 'hairy' potter, has donated opal-clay pie rings for microwave use. The best part is that they work - no more soggy-bottomed pies! Great for home use or as a gift.

Our special display to celebrate the Opal Queen is the vintage gown that Sharon Kosloff, the inaugural Opal Queen, tailored and wore to crown the 1972 Opal Queen, Lydi Pardey, who was attended by Judy Howard and Kerrie Lehmann. Diane Brown was MC at the second Opal Queen event. The Festival donated $2030 to the struggling Bush Nurse Association unit.

Please notice the 1911 Lightning Ridge Amateur Race Club Samuel's Cup with the Opal & Jewellery Design's display in the Bowling Club's foyer. 100 years ago, such grand trophies were made by jewellers, hence the opportunity to include this historical icon.

Tickets for the Race Club Ball – a served dinner and dancing to “Crank” – are for sale at the Society's display. Please note that no tickets will be sold at the Ball's door so reserve a table now to avoid disappointment. Celebrate 100 years of the Lightning Ridge Race Club on Saturday night, 3 September.

Have a great Opal Festival 2011!

Barbara Moritz
26 July 2011 09:17pm
Snippets 20 July 2011
6-Mile Beer Can Cottage Ruins

Lately, Nettleton's First Shaft, the destination of the Yellow Car Door Explorer Tour, has added attractions. The 6-Mile Circle (abraxas or labrynith) was laid out by Poppy, Marion and their friends from Queensland at Easter. Since its revelation, people are driving an extended trail and have discovered the Beer Can Cottage Ruins nearby. What is its story?

As far as we know, a local opal miner and his family constructed and occupied the cottage of 4 rooms in the 1970s. He and his wife still live nearby and are known to locals so we won't say where as visitors seem to want to know MORE about this curious dwelling. It does represent a certain freedom we enjoy on the opal fields.

Remnants of the inner walls as well as outer ones are built completely of beer cans held in place with concrete. The story goes that the children carted the cans from the tip – old steel ones that are now rusty. Striking is that the v-holes in the can tops have no artistic order as in the Black Queen's feature walls on Sims Hill.

Window spaces – square and round – stand empty as frames of the unique mining landscape and/or a beautiful sunset. The fireplace is derelict without support of a roof. Sometime after 1996, the corrugation was removed – the beauty of this building material is that you can just take it with you and rebuild or sell it for needed cash. The Census Collector counted the people who lived in the Beer Can Cottage in the Count just 15 years ago.

The owner of the residential claim – yes, it could be spruced up and lived in – is promising to do just that. In the meantime, he's busy emptying more beer cans! No names mentioned.....

Barbara Moritz
26 July 2011 09:16pm
Snippets 13 July 2011
Retired grazier from Walgett, Fred Colwell, recalls an Easter in the mid-1950s when he took his son and daughter camping at the Grawin. Joe Marshall, whose folks managed Boorooma nearby, was mining around Hammonds Hill as were Bert George, Harry Sac (Zack), Ron Gardiner, Harry Alsebrook, to name a few of the old-timers. Joe guided the Colwells in opal mining then took them under his wing when the weather turned cold and their camping gear was limited.

Fred remembers his opal mining days with a chuckle. There was the time Bill O'Brien flew his light plane over from Goodooga with his brother Frank aboard as well as Ian Woodcock, Bowls Club Manager, to pick him up. They flew over to South Australia for a look/see around Coober Pedy and Andamooka. Even though Fred was 20 years their senior, he was good company and a man of diverse interests, reports Woody. The Walgett Show Society celebrated their patron, Fred Colwell's, 90th birthday in May.

Joe Marshall was seen in town recently, wandering through the Sunday Markets with his sister Janie. The two ground to a halt in front of the historical society's display when they spotted their grandfather, Gordon Marshall, in a 1910 photograph of opal miners on the 3-Mile that dominates an historical poster (designed by Jenni Brammall, Project Manager of the proposed Australian Opal Centre). The photo came from Victoria – so our knowledge increases, thanks to the Marshalls' vigilance.

Barbara Moritz
17 July 2011 03:12pm
Snippets 6 July 2011
Forty years ago, the opal rush at Millionaire's Gully Glengarry broke out. The South Australians and Gilgandra boys did well. Others are rich in stories! Retired Walgett grazier Fred Colwell remembered the hype of the day at the historical society last week, when he brought in his daughter, Tonia, a retired nurse visiting from Bathurst.

Fred remembers that back in about 1953, before Lightning Ridge was a part of Walgett Shire, he and other Councillors first did a sweep through the opal fields during Christmas time. They took the bachelor old-timers – there were about 13 – to a hot meal at the Imperial Hotel (Diggers Rest) in the Ridge and, next time, down to Walgett.

Barbara Moritz

17 July 2011 03:11pm
Snippets 29 June 2011
The general meeting on Sunday, 26 June, was well attended and we welcomed three new members. No resolutions were sought, rather an update on achievements and undertakings since the March meeting. President Michael Taylor thanked Rhonda White for accepting the invitation to be our lady Patron, following her mother, Winn.

Volunteer Paula Lloyd will take time off from Heritage Cottage until warmer days and Helen Mulder will step-in on Wednesday afternoons. After the meeting, Dolly Zena (of the raffle) was admired by the ladies and came closer to finding her new home. The men got into an animated discussion of their earlier mining days over a cuppa. Our AGM is set for 28 August 2011.

On an historical note, Stan Leaver, a mining engineer in Kalgoorlie, came last week seeking information about his grandmother, who nursed at the Ridge in mid-1918. He discovered that she joined her sister, Nurse Shepherd, who was employed by the Bush Nursing Association. Mrs Leaver brought her small son, Stan's father, while her husband was at war.

Stan will send us his Gran's personal details for our records. He didn't know that his great aunt, Nurse Shepherd, married a local Mooring and stayed in the district. We just might be able to reconnect him with a few more cousins. Stan likes the life style at Lightning Ridge and knows he'll be back – maybe to peg a claim!

Barbara Moritz
4 July 2011 05:22pm