SUNDAY MAY 17 LIGHTNING RIDGE
Another pleasantly warm morning. As I had breakfast, sitting outside, could hear the sounds from the pistol club that is behind the caravan park. There is a Serbian Church next door, but there was no sound from them. In a small settlement like Lightning Ridge, the presence of this church is an indicator of a significant element of the population.
Caravan park gardens, and church next door
After John got going, we drove into town.
First stop was an old tin cottage that dates from 1910. Since opal mining only started here in the first years of the 20th century, this hut dates almost from the beginning of the town.
Maybe they were shorter a century ago?
We explored around, and in it, for a while. Obviously it had been amended and altered over the years, but its essence remains.
Corrugated iron – termite and fire resistant
Inside the hut
The backyard dunny
After that, it was to the Bowls Club, where John went in to suss out games. He came out and said he’d just put his name down to play on the afternoon of the 17th. I pointed out that today was the 17th. He went back in and removed his name, not feeling like playing today. He was definitely in holiday mode now – no idea of days or dates.
We went on, to have a browse at the regular Sunday Markets, set up in the surrounds of the Information Centre. Since they only go until noon, and it was almost that, the stalls were packed – or packing – up. Still, there was a bit to look at. On the recommendation of one stall holder, I bought half a boiled fruit cake from another stall – for $6.50.
Chatted with a couple of stall holders who still had some opal on display. When I asked him, one of the miners said there was still plenty of opal in the area. John got talking to a wholesaler of opal parcels and found he could buy a little parcel for $400. Fortunately, it was not here on the spot, as I could tell John was interested. He did get the man’s contact details for his office in town.
I talked to another stall holder, who said he’d had a good morning. I bought a couple of booklets by a man called Len Cram, about the Ridge and its opals.
Then to the PO. so John could post a birthday card to elder daughter. The Opal Cave shop was over the road, so we wandered over to look in there. It was a big place, totally geared to dealing with mass tourist shoppers. I think just about every visitor to town visits it. The stock – and there was an enormous amount on display – ranged from the very cheap and kitsch souvenir extreme, right up to some very lovely pieces of opal priced well into five figures. They stocked a lot of triplet and doublet opal in pre-cast settlings, thus keeping the prices for these attractively low (doublet and triplet opal is very thin shavings of the stone, glued onto a potch backing).
We had been in here on our last visit and made it clear from the outset that we were not here to buy anything, other than some postcards. Still, the man behind the counter kept trying to guess what might tempt us and telling us to look at this and that, and generally applying the hard sell tactics. I really dislike this so we did not stay long.
Drove back to camp, via some different back streets. Passed the Lightning Ridge Caravan Park, whose sign said they had en-suite sites. More information for my mental file. It does have the advantage of being right in town, if walking to the shops is one’s priority. Could do that from the Opal, too, but it would probably be a round trip of about 4kms. Just from the quick impression gained as driving past, I liked the Opal better.
Lunch was late. John wanted an “electric sandwich” – a jaffle toasted in the electric sandwich maker, which he’d spied was lurking packed away in the oven. I had cheese and salami that would make a decent filling for him. Made myself a salad. The fruit cake was every bit as delicious as we’d been told.
Relaxed for the rest of the day, in between taking Couey for walks and over to the undeveloped area for ball chases. Her morning had been spent in the Terios, while we did our stuff, so she was owed some exercise,
John watched footy on TV. I read, and checked my emails on my laptop. I texted my son to pass on birthday wishes from me to grandson, who turned nine today.
Changed the dressings on my leg. I thought there may have been some improvement. Hoped! John got me to have a look at his leg, where a couple of the wounds from the removal of skin cancers several weeks ago, were being very slow to heal. He was troubled because the lower leg and foot were swollen. I said he should be wearing his compression stocking. He could not find that, so got me to put on an elastic bandage, which he said I did not make tight enough. After a couple of hours took it off because his toes were darkening. Not tight enough – yeah, right! I offered him one of my stockings. Tomorrow, he said.
It clouded over in the late afternoon. On such occasions, sunsets seen from Nettletons Lookout, out to the west, are supposed to be really colourful. We discussed driving out there but couldn’t raise the energy to do so. The sunset did not look at all colourful from the park.
Tea was lemon chicken, with rice and zucchini.
I watched some TV then went to bed. John stayed up late working on his computer game.