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Snippets 25 Aug 2010
Remembering the late Father Colin Ogilvie will bring smiles to the faces of those who knew him.

Recent visitor, David Maher, ex-Headmaster of Goodooga Public School, 1960-'63, and retired North West Regional Director of Education, 1982-'89, shared his memories of his former colleague and friend.

“Colin was a very creative and capable teacher at Goodooga and at Lightning Ridge, 1971-'81. He was an uninhibited wag with an original sense of humour – a likable larrikin in selected situations – and an aggressive rugby league player. Until his demise in 2009, Colin was very proud of his work with less privileged children, who adored him enormously.

When the late Bob Garling was Principal in '77 or '78, Colin was one of the instigators for a small swimming pool to be built in the school grounds. At that time, some dedicated parents were driving their children to Walgett for swimming training.

I was was called upon, as the Assistant Regional Director of Education, to officially open the new pool. It was a late afternoon event and, just as I declared the pool open, Colin seized the moment, zealously, and dived into the pool wearing his dinner suit!

When Colin applied for a transfer from Lightning Ridge, he attached a personal note that approximated these words: 'David, the crows have started to fly backwards at L.R. so I think that it is time for me to move forward and to transfer.' I seem to recall, one of his subsequent appointments was at Brewarrina.

Later, Colin trained to be a Roman Catholic priest and his love of Lightning Ridge was reflected in the fact that he chose to be ordained on the verandah of the Lightning Ridge Public School, a venue and an event that matched the individuality of the man.”

To another matter – the Society's Annual General Meeting will be held on the back verandah, 12 September at 3.30pm. All are welcome - members can vote.

Barbara Moritz, Secretary
24 August 2010 02:55pm
Snippets 18 August 2010
An Outsider's View of Lightning Ridge 2001 -

Lightning Ridge is an opal mining centre with a curious name. Supposedly a flock of 600 fluffy white sheep were instantly converted to crunchy
black lamb cutlets with a single bolt from the sky. Sounds more like a Monty Python sketch to me. "No Sir, I did not sell your sheep over the border in Queensland, they were happily grazing away on that ridge and they were killed instantly by a bolt of lightning.”

Unlike Australia's other opal mining town of Coober Pedy, "the Ridge" has both trees and grass but no underground houses that I could see. That doesn't mean there are necessarily any building regulations. Lack of planning controls have allowed residents to construct their dwellings out of glass bottles, old trams, old trains and in one case construct a complete 12th century European castle. However, the most common type of residential dwelling is a pre-fabricated kit home.

There are a lot of large and thriving commercial buildings and businesses in the centre of town, far more than needed to support the few streets of actual houses. The sign at the entrance to town proudly proclaims "Lightning Ridge: Population ?" Apparently about 1200 people are registered to vote here, but 10,000 collect mail from the Post Office. Very few of the "residents" bother themselves with unnecessary red tape like GST, BAS, TAX etc. It's
Australia's concept of a tax haven.

Just out of the official town are a myriad of tracks and opal mine workings, most of which have a caravan and accommodate the not-so-phantom population. The concept of street numbers here is generally regarded as rather too formal. The track to your lot is identified by an appropriately coloured car door hanging from a tree.,,,,,,,,

Barbara Moritz
24 August 2010 02:51pm
Snippets 11 August 2010
It's been a week of donations to the community through the historical society. Barry Reynolds' mother saved the January 22, 1930 'Sydney Mail' magazine that revealed the photo of the Nettleton main street on 3-Mile flat, 1912, in an article on the Ridge. Barry has put it into the Lightning Ridge collection.

Cally Dominick, a bush nurse in the late 1960s, donated Debbie Hodge's (wife of Harold, the man with the opal teeth) nursing belt buckle and badge from the 1915 era to Nurse Lucy, who is of the same vintage and always on her feet in the Hospital Gallery window.

And, who left Harold Hodges' family Bible on the Heritage Cottage door handle? It belonged to his mother, who registered her marriage and the births of their children within. This is a wonderful donation – thank you for letting the society look after it.

We have significant items, important in the development of Lightning Ridge. Thank you for giving them to us to hold for the community. They will be on display from time-to-time and, in the meantime, are safe in the care of the historical society.

Barbara Moritz
10 August 2010 02:48pm
Snippets 4 August 2010
Thanks to all who popped by the Historical Society's display at the Opal Festival 2010 - the Predators drew-in unexpected chats. For those of you who tried to guess our mystery stone, it was crystal glaze on an opal clay, pottery droplet fired by our very own Potty Potter, Graeme Anderson, Life Member of the Society. Margie Schofield of Bluey Motel was right.

Then, Ted Gray, part-time opal miner since 1948, brought in some early photos that were very revealing. Government Tank, beyond the Gem Gardens coming into town, had a market garden. The scaffolding that extended out in the Tank is the same as pictured in our 1910 photo.

Wolf Moosmueller came by with the featured aerial view of Lightning Ridge in the 1960s. He says Bobby Ward's house was built in 1963 so this must be around the time. Billy Goat Lane seems to have been a main street behind Morilla Street. See if you can pick the Anglican Church, Cooper's Cottage and the old house next to the aged units (of 2010) up in Harlequin Street.

As can be seen, Heritage Cottage (in 2010) was very close to the original Tram-o-tel when it was on Chemist-side of Morilla Street. One story we know for sure – apparently, the Graham Brothers had let the old hut run-down to derelict stage. Harold Hodges brought them over a bucket of paint to at least paint the side of their hut that faced his trams. They did, but only that side.

Wonder if Hodgey was wearing his opal teeth when he asked the favour of the Brothers. Have you bought the new postcard of Hodgey's teeth at the Opal Centre next to Tom's Lapidary yet?

Barbara Moritz
3 August 2010 09:43pm
Snippets 28 July 2010
This week's photo is looking up the main street of the 3-Mile settlement, also known as Nettleton, towards Lunatic Hill. Last week's Snippets photo entitled 'The place is becoming civilized', portrayed Old Town, the original Wallangulla settlement. The two locations were occupied up to WWI and equi-distant from New Town, the surveyed village site that has been considerably extended by 2010.

Visit our display in the Club's Hall during the Opal Festival for more historical information. Our booklets are worth owning and/or sending to family and friends. There are always a few surprises!

Barbara Moritz
3 August 2010 09:41pm