Monday, 2 July 2018

Another visit to Lightning Ridge

The 6 weeks since my last post have been so busy  and time and energy consuming that I just haven't had time to  sit down and compile a new post.
 Last month Brian and his brother travelled back to Lightning Ridge for 10 days to work with another brother in the opals fields and I kept busy here looking after the farm,animals and catching up on some preserving.
Two weeks ago we  all ventured  up To Lightning Ridge again to help out where possible.
As we drove  into the mine area I was totally  in awe of the Roly Poly grass balls, dried and piled up everywhere  pushed by the wind.
The boys got busy down in the big sandpit playing with those big tonka toys, Brian drives the red and white tipper,
and the brother in law from next door drove the "Big Yellow Ute"
The boys all took turns in loading the stock pile of earth into the hopper with the front end loader.
My Sister in law  Yvette and myself  were on "keeping the hopper flowing to the conveyor belt" duty,
and after a day of doing this, my hands  fell to pieces !(even though I was wearing gloves.)
We resigned from that job (some other men arrived and we happily handed it over to them)
The next job we got was running the water truck down to the artesian bore and filling up the 3 X 1000 litre water pods and  driving them back to  the campsite.
 We were so funny, so nervous and we only drove the little old truck 20 klms /hr and in second gear(nervous Nellies)
While we were at the washery   I decided to do some shadow photos after doing one shot by chance.
Yvette and I first,
then Brian and I,
and finally 4 of us workers.
We girls were on Kitchen duty, putting out many meals and snacks over the 10 days but unfortunately while looking for a knife in the  utensils drawer I found it sooner than expected and sliced my finger badly.
Thank goodness my daughter had made us up a wonderful emergency medical kit to keep in our caravan  and we were able to doctor my finger up beautifully, but it certainly curtailed  my work for a few days. It is all mended now.
I went a little crazy with the camera  up there and I will now bore you to death with a mass of images that I fell in love with at the washery run off area.
As the clay that washes down dries it leaves the most amazing patterns.
Back at camp, the fluffy dust caught my eye, with tyre tracks and boot prints jumping out at me.
 Our brother and sister in law have installed a spa bath at the  washery, there are already rough tin showers erected  there and plumbed into the hot artesian water and now  people can  relax in the bath to soak  away their  aches and pains after a day of back breaking opal mining.
 One day  Yvette and I went down to the spa, only to find that the area we stopped the vehicle in was  a wet spot and when we went to leave, we sunk and the ute bogged. The biggest embarrassment was to have to  wait until Brian passed by in the tip truck and flag him down to get us out of the bog.

 Just  before dark each evening our friends the goats came to visit us each night across the other side of the mine . All up there was about 8 of them, a sweet little family group.
A local man who is friends of my brother in law , had spotted an emu nest  during his  work day on a nearby property and offered to take us to see it. I had seen an Emu egg before, but had never seen an actual nest site.
The male Emu, who sits on the eggs to incubate them ran off as we approached , but Charlie assured us that he would return once we  went away.
At the end of the week, we "tailed out", which is the term for  when all the earth that has been washing in the giant agitator(like a big cement mixer) and all the rocks, stones and beautiful little pieces of timber come  rolling down the shute onto the table where they are sorted through hoping to find those  elusive stunning opals.
This what was sorted, not a great haul, but they told us there were a couple of nice stones  in the bucket.
The boys dug out quite a bit of earth , the pit changes  every day, this was a pic I took on the last day.
One day Yvette and I roped one of those big prickly Roly Poly's, popped it in the back of the ute and took it back to camp, That night we lit it up and rolled it down the road  into the mine.
What I have posted here is just a snippet of what we did, we love "The Ridge" and will probably  be back there many more times to visit and have a working holiday.
Life here has returned to it's normal busy routine and will probably be even busier over the next few months. I will try  to update a little more often , but time will tell.
Take care until we meet again.
Jane and Brian.


  1. Brilliant post, so many lovely photos love the shadow ones. Thanks for sharing your adventures

    1. Thanks Marlene,
      We had such fun out there...
      It's such an unusual landscape out there, a visual feast for the eyes...
      Thanks for dropping by,

  2. i always enjoy your posts, you get up to so much! Opal Mining! gosh, hope they got some nice stones out of all that work!
    looks like you had some fun too which is always good.
    thanx for sharing

    1. Thanks selina,
      We really had a great time...
      Lot's of work too but enjoyable work with family that are good mates...

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks fran,
      Iadored them, saw them green a few months ago but never imagined them to be so stunning when dry.

  4. Love all those things you encountered, it's an experience not many of us would have, so lovely that you shared it here. Those roly poly grass balls seem huge and amazing to see emu eggs too. Hope your finger is healing well. Meg:)

  5. Wow the Emu eggs look great and love all the dry dirt patterns. Not good on the finger injury....I went to Lightening Ridge on a 18-35 camping bus tour when I was 19.