THURSDAY MAY 21 LIGHTNING RIDGE
After last night’s rain, the caravan park grounds had lots of small puddles, but they had built it up well, above the original black soil flats, before putting on the surface stones, so it was not too bad. I was very glad we were not out at Lorne!
When I got up and came outside, noticed that the neighbour had a lot of water pooled in his awning roof, to the extent I was surprised it hadn’t given way. He was out and about and eventually noticed and drained it – water everywhere!
John was up about 9.30 – early again. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to bowl today as the grass would be heavy and hard on his shoulder. Eventually he decided to cancel.
We had some rain showers through the morning, then it eased off.
Rain at the Ridge
Drove into town, to my favourite shop, the Opal Bin. It was a relatively small establishment that largely stocks just their own locally mined opal. They have really good quality jewellery and cut stones. I picked out a ring I liked – both the stone and the design. But the stone wasn’t fiery enough for John’s liking. After much discussion, I ended up buying an oval stone with lots of greeny flashes in the dark blue background. They would have it set by their Sydney jeweller, which could take up to three or four months, as his work is in much demand. The opal lady and I sketched out the design for the setting. It would be worth waiting for.
A pair of unusual earrings caught my eye. Large ovals of grey, polished, potchy stone, with thin veins of bright green opal running through. Had not seen anything like that before, so had to have those too. That’s my Xmas and birthday presents for this year well and truly taken care of.
The metropolis of Lightning Ridge
We then went and browsed the John Murray art gallery for a while. His art is of the quirky Australiana style – quite unique. Stylized emus feature often. His designs have been put onto postcards, mouse mats and the like. There were prints in a variety of sizes, and some original works of art. The latter were well beyond our means! I bought a stubby holder for M and two smallish prints, already in mats, which John could frame. These really captured the essence of the fields, I thought. Then John was captivated by a Murray emu – a sticker about 50cm tall of its neck and head, with the typical puzzled/resigned expression on its face, that Murray emus have. He said it would go on the glass panel beside our front door. Well, that will make for an entry with a difference!
John was really pushing for me to see the opals at the Chambers of the Black Hand. We drove out there. The two men were there, but they said to come back just after 3pm, as now was lunch time. My thought was that they were really quite lackadaisical about business and I was inclined not to bother at all. But John was determined so back we went at the indicated time.
There was a group of maybe a dozen people, starting the 3pm tour. We were to follow them down to the gallery level. I was not sure when “might bring up trays to show you” got transformed into me actually going underground, but that was what happened.
We had to walk down some sixty steps, of varying depth and width, cut into the rock. Care was required. Once down there, after the tour people had disappeared further into the depths, we browsed fairly thoroughly. They had quite a lot of doublets – pretty, but I prefer to buy solid opal. There were a lot of other items where the stone had been cut to fit pre-cast settings, which I rarely like. But I did find an irresistible ring – a plain gold setting, with a sparkling blue-green stone, with a flash of red. John bargained and got quite a good deal. He also bought an $80 jar containing about eight really nice little opal pieces. I think I am now on to my 2016 presents!
When I went to pay for our acquisitions, my two cards would not get approval, because my earlier transactions had hit our daily limit. A bit embarrassing. We arranged for them to hold our purchases and we would go to their office in town, tomorrow lunchtime, pay and collect.
I was not at ease, underground, and was very happy to be climbing back up the narrow sixty steps to daylight.
We had certainly done our bit for the economy of Lightning Ridge.
On the way back to camp, stopped so I could take a photo of the town airstrip. This was fully sealed – it is a “proper” airport – but I’d noticed, driving past, that the sealed strip appears over a rise, goes down a dip into a hollow, then starts to rise again. Could be an interesting one for pilots new to it…
The undulating airstrip
Tea was pasta with bottled sauce – a chargrilled vegetable one.
The rain set in again at night.