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lLIGHTNING RIDGE

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We also visited Gemopal Pottery, which is run by Graeme Anderson and is right next door to the Goondee Aboriginal Keeping Place.  Graeme makes his pottery from genuine opal clay, which is a fine grained clay with a high silica content.  I couldn't resist purchasing several pieces as they were so beautiful.  Unfortunately I did not take my camera the day we visited Goondee and Gemopal.

There are a number of historical sites in and around Lightning Ridge and one of them is Spicers Cottage.  Spicers CottageThis small house was built by Albert Spicer in 1932 and was occupied until 1975 when it was declared an Historical Reserve.  It's fairly obvious that there were no Council building regulations in force in those days as part of the cottage is constructed of kerosine tins which had been hammered flat.

 

Across the same street and a little further out of the main shopping area is Cooper's Cottage which used to belong to Bert and Toots Cooper.  They have now left the Ridge  and it is now used by an opal buyer.  I believe this cottage still has dirt floors, but judging from the television aerial still attached to the chimney, it must  have some modern conveniences. Two doors down is a very modern house and the contrast between the two buildings is startling.

The hub of social activity seemed to be the Lighting Ridge Bowling Club (lawn bowls).  Each week they show a movie in the Auditorium and the week we were there it was Air Force One,  (I'm now turning into film critic) a reasonable action film,  which was spoiled by the last few scenes which were absolutely ludicrous and hilariously funny.  The entire audience seemed to share my view, with everyone breaking up with laughter at their improbability.

The Court House at the Ridge is a small unimposing timber building with a large blue awning at the front.  As the temperatures in the town can rise to 50 degrees C (122 degrees F.) in summer, the awning would be absolutely necessary, however I couldn't help hoping that I was never asked to give evidence or appear before the court during hot weather as this shelter would afford very little relief from the heat.

Unfortunately the weather finally cleared sufficiently in both Lightning Ridge and Canberra for us to fly home and we ran out of excuses to remain. We very reluctantly allowed ourselves to be picked up at the motel by Denise and George and drove over to Dot and Lloyd's house and collected them. We then all went out to the airfield, said our goodbyes and took off for the three and a half hour flight home.   I suspect that they came to the airfield with us to make sure that we actually did leave!!! (Just joking everyone *grin*).

The flooding we had seen on the way up had got worse during the week, and as a result of the heavy rain, the country surrounding the township was wonderfully green in comparison to its normal red brown so we were treated to a very unusual view.

It's very difficult to sum up Lightning Ridge in a few words.  Despite the fact that the town was cut off by flood water and we were unable to get to the main opal mining fields, we had one of the best holidays either of us could remember.  The Ridge is populated by the most hospitable and friendly group of people I have ever met.  They have a warmth and sense of humour which is typical of the Australian country dweller.  Our heartfelt thanks go to Dot, Lloyd, Denise, George, Jane, Jake, Graeme, June and all the others who made our stay so memorable.  In the words of General MacArthur..."We shall return".