Historical Section
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*1900
Opal found late in the year by Jack Murray, boundary rider on Dunumbral Run, Bundinbarrina Station. He got fired from his job for digging up the land rather than looking after it!
*1901
First registered miner, Jack Murray, was reported by Mr.Andrews, Inspector of Mines in his 1902 report. Other early miners on the field were Nat Hennessey, Peter Ferguson, Ted Bishop, and the Canfell Brothers - Tom, Mick, and Jim.
*1902
Late that year, Charlie Nettleton, the first professional prospector with experience on the goldfields and at White Cliffs, began to sink a shaft at McDonald's 6-Mile, then on Angledool Station. Joe Beckett of Weetalibah Hotel, northend of the Walgett to Angledool road, and a syndicate of businessmen sponsored his efforts. Interestingly, the Manager of Angledool Station wasn't part of it. Apparently, back in the 1880s, opal specimens he had sent to Sydney were returned as valueless.
*1903
Nettleton's Shaft proved to be a duffer, and he mined over on Dunumbral Run near Murray. After a parcel of opal was returned to the syndicate from Sydney due to the paltry offer, the two miners teamed up. Later in the year, they walked a parcel of black opal to White Cliffs, where the market was based on light opal. This unusual nodular dark opal brought but a pittance from E F Murphy, who was willing to take the risk, promising a supplement to follow with the approval of his principal. Tullie Wollaston in Adelaide was enthusiastic. He deserves the credit for developing the world market for black opal. The first mineral lease applied for in Walgett was 22 1/2 acres near Angledool village.
*1905
The first opal rush on Sims Hill named Ted Bishop "Opal King". He took his parcel to Sydney, prompted by a suspicious sale of one big stone in Angledool village. The Western Lands Minister of Mines was amazed at the good quality, in view of former information. Bishop sold his other big opal in Adelaide and made up his losses!
*1905
The first opal rush on Sims Hill named Ted Bishop "Opal King". He took his parcel to Sydney, prompted by a suspicious sale of one big stone in Angledool village. The Western Lands Minister of Mines was amazed at the good quality, in view of former information. Bishop sold his other big opal in Adelaide and made up his losses!
*1906
Wallangulla settlement began forming near the Wallangilla Tank, the closest waterhole on Dunumbral Run. Tenders were called for the sinking of a government tank for the fluctuating community as the farmers weren't cooperative with letting miners use their tanks. Hammond Hill at the Grawin discovered. The first Council of Walgett Shire formed.
*1907
New Town and the Cemetery were surveyed on land least likely to be opal bearing. Hence Wallangulla, where the school and post office had already opened, became known as Old Town. Tanksinker Fred Dowdle was working. His family is still represented in the town. E F Murphy, opalbuyer, relocated to Old Town from White Cliffs.
*1908
Nettleton or 3-Mile Flat settlement sprang up in a gully just three miles west of Sims Hill, when a new rush broke out nearby, on the same long ridge. The government tank didn't get quite finished, but it soon rained and filled. The Great Opal Robbery caused a stir. A local was convicted, based on the witness Ernie Smith, mail contractor. His son and namesake "Sonny" of Walgett will be 90 next year. The George Brown family arrived - grandson Bob Molyneux is still resident. The Dominick Brothers cycled from White Cliffs - two grandchildren still here. Charlie Dunstan found two huge opals, "Fire Queen" and "Queen of the Earth", at Angledool diggings. The railhead was completed to Walgett.
*1909
In its heyday, probably 1200 people, mostly single men, lived on the 3 Mile, an independent community to Old Town. Ion Idriess, miner and well known author, describes the situation in his "Lightning Ridge", published 1940. The first accommodation, the Imperial Hotel, opened December 1909 in the New Town, when Bradys, opalbuyers from White Cliffs, also moved into their home (Walford's today, up from Festival IGA today). The Bruce family arrived on the opalfields from Cobar, as did the ABJ "Pappa" Francis family - some grandchildren are still here! Pappa, as well as Ernie Sherman, both Cliffs' opalbuyers, relocated, as production there fell. Mrs ABJ "Kitty" Francis was the only lady opalbuyer, as reported in the Walgett Spectator. The Vice Regal, Sir Harry Rawson, and his daughter visited Walgett and the Ridge. The Kite Brothers, Temora, came north shearing, later settling permanently at the 9 Mile.
*1910
Population on the Wallangulla Opalfields was larger than Walgett. A call by the miners for permanent water - a bore - to be sunk, fell on deaf ears! First Billiardroom opened across from the Hotel in Morilla Street (where Shell is). Charlie Dunstan was the first reported suicide. A post office agency was established at 3 Mile Flat, and the first New Town post office opened in November, Morilla Street. The first girl baby in the main street was christened Morilla, "Milly" Canfell, by her father Mick. A tender went out for a school at New Town. Mick Donnelly built a nice house - burnt down in Opal Street 1993. Dances were held in Martin's Hall (behind where Terry Barclay lives today)
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Last Update Pre 2006