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Snippets 9 August 2012
Roy Campbell visits the Ridge regularly. He mined with Max Channon and the late Roy Barker at Canfells in the 1960s. He knew Roy's parents, also mining in the vicinity and living simply, in a water tank. The Roys and Max found trace late one afternoon and when they returned, the ratters had been and left a mess. That was the closest Roy Campbell came to finding opal or was there any? He's rich in stories like so many!

Roy Campbell enjoys cutting opal in his special cutting room on the property near Dubbo – he bought Mick Cullen's water tank, lived-in when he was caretaker at the bore baths in the late 1960s. Rod Hungerford had it stored at the back of the Council Caravan Park for years.

The Barker's Goondee 'Keeping Place' stands on the site of Mick Cullen's Museum 1966-76. The concrete floor from it was salvaged by Graeme Anderson for some unknown future project that turned out to be the back patio behind the BNA at the historical society. It works well as a free-stone surface for a comfortable, community space to have lunch or just a quiet chat off the main drag.

This visit, Roy Campbell and his friend Lois did all the Car Door Explorer Tours and some touristy things in spite of diminished spirits in view of the sad loss of their friends, June and Roy. Memories of a long-time friendship were dominant as they toodled around the diggings and remembered happier days.

Barbara Moritz
8 August 2012 08:24pm
Snippets 2 August 2012
What a busy Opal Festival! The Welcome to the Walkers from White Cliffs at the Black Opal Shed went well on the opening night of festivities with speeches and inspections of the latest heritage icon on display, an opal rubbing-down machine that was brought from White Cliffs by the Francis family.

Pappa and Kitty Francis were both opal buyers and brought their two sons to the black opal fields in 1909. Kitty was the first recorded lady buyer and, as such, awarded Murphy's black opal bracelet to the winner of the Opal Buyers Gift at the LR Races in 1911.

Pappa's sons Jack and Bill learned to work opal on this machine that was ordered in 1896 from USA for 3 pounds 10. Wonder what it cost to ship and how long it took to arrive? Jack's daughter, Jenny Colless, was born at the Ridge and learned to use the machine. When she married and went to a Walgett property in the early 1960s, the machine went with her. She has loaned it to the opal community for our appreciation and to tell the story of her early opal-buying family.

The Walkers from White Cliffs enjoyed lunch on their rest day in Walgett at the Jenny's home. Also present were her brother Terry and his wife Barbara, plus Jenni Brammall, Annie Deane and Graeme Anderson from the Ridge. The group adjourned to the Walgett and District Historical Society rooms to peruse the current display and collection. The surprise for the Walkers was to see the Francis' heritage opal rubbing-down machine for the first time and to help load it on the back of the ute to transport to the Shed on the 3-Mile for their own Welcome to Lightning Ridge on 26 August during the Opal Festival.

Barbara Moritz
8 August 2012 08:22pm
Snippets 26 July 2012
The centre-piece of the historical society display at the Opal Festival is from White Cliffs' Centenary in 1990. It is a personalised cloth that veiled a stone-tribute to EF Murphy and was donated to the opal community's collection by Neville Good, who played a part in the celebration. His grandmother was one of two daughters of the Widow Adams, whom Ted Murphy remarried in 1893. She died in childbirth as did their baby in 1894. Murphy's mother, Annie, lived-in to mind the surviving two of three children from Ted's first marriage and the Adams Sisters were raised by an aunt.

The Opal Festival's display gives a time line of Murphy's life. He did marry a third time before he came to Lightning Ridge in 1907 and they adopted a daughter, Thelma, after his daughter Annie died in 1907 and his son Ned in 1909, both in their early twenties. However, Ned's son Reg lived beyond 1981 but had no children, nor did Thelma. Hence Neville Good's representation at the White Cliff's Centenary in 1990 to unveil the Murphy plaque. Chris Good works on the boulder opal fields. He's the grandson of Murphy's second wife's other daughter. (Are you confused yet?)

Ted and Mary Murphy relocated to The Black Opal Store in Market Street, Sydney, in 1911, where he continued dealing in opal. In those days, opal buyers were often jewellers. He made the opal bracelet for the inaugural Opal Buyers Gift, the feature race at the Lightning Ridge Races in 1911. Murphy more than likely supported the LRRC right into the 1920s, until the Depression took over.

White Cliffs as the premier opal field in NSW holds significance in the history of Lightning Ridge. The Walkers from White Cliffs have commemorated this long-time association and the sale of the first parcel of black opal to Murphy when Charlie Nettleton and Jack Murray walked the stretch in reverse. The Walkers raised more than $7000 for the proposed Australian Opal Centre.

Barbara Moritz
8 August 2012 08:18pm
Snippets 19 July 2012
THE WALK will terminate at Lightning Ridge on the first day of the Opal Festival, Thursday, 26 July. Please be at the T-junction on the Castlereagh Highway to join the intrepid walkers for the final 5km lap into town. Also note that in the evening at 7pm, we'll gather at the Opal Centre's Black Opal Shed on the 3-Mile to celebrate the achievement and to view the iconic machine recently arrived.

During the Festival, stop by the the historical society's display to learn more about Ted Murphy, who was the first resident opal buyer at Lightning Ridge in 1907. There will be a few more surprises.

Barbara Moritz
8 August 2012 08:15pm
Snippets 12 July 2012
THE WALK has special significance for Denise Brady, who arrived from Sydney this week to walk a stretch of about 60km from Bre towards Walgett. She's joining locals, Orel Lea and Barbara Moritz, to intercept the intrepid quartet of Walkers on 21 July.

Denise's grandfather, Phil Brady, an opal buyer, brought his family along the route from White Cliffs to the Ridge in 1909. Her father, Phil, was but a lad and they lived in today's Walford House until around 1920.

Historical society members Lea and Moritz said they “Wouldn't miss the adventure!”, as Jenni Brammall, Annie Deane and Leigh Black also exclaimed two weeks ago. What an exhilarating experience for participating Walkers commemorating the famous walk made by Charlie Nettleton and Jack Murray in 1903, when they reversed the trip and offered the first parcel of black opal to EF 'Ted' Murphy, opal buying agent for TC Wollaston of Adelaide. Ted took the chance and bought the unusual nodular, black opal – the beginning of the Black Opal Industry.

Sunday, 22 July, is a rest day in Walgett for the Walkers after completing 28 days. Some of Walgett's historical society members plan to welcome the team and other Ridgeites, who are driving down to collect some very special cargo. No doubt the odd Walker will secretly wish he could hop on the back of the Ute and forego the final burst up the Castlereagh.

In the meantime, checkout for the latest photos of this valiant effort.

Barbara Moritz
17 July 2012 07:11pm