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Blue Snoopy is a 2012 Nova Vita Caravan pulled by a 2012 Nissan Navara ST Dual Cab Ute.

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9 October 2017 – Lightning Ridge NSW

The rain stopped around 8:00pm (we think so as we didn’t hear anything overnight) and the temperature remained about the 20 degree mark overnight.  Suspecting further rain, we could not open the roof vents but decided to leave the fan (not the compressor) running overnight on the air conditioning.  This proved a great decision as we had a comfortable sleep.

At 7:00am when we ventured out of our door, all we could see was heavy fog.  The fog eventually lifted and after checking emails (we had to waste 20 minutes on the phone with Optus who were supposed to be closing an account for us but the request got “lost” in their system and they continued to charge us) we headed to a local attraction that we had missed when we last visited Lightning Ridge.

The “Chambers of the Blackhand” is an underground mine that is full of sculptures by an artist, Ron Canlin.

Ron Canlin started the “Chambers of the Black Hand” in 1996 and it took him 6 months to dig to the opal level of 60 feet for the purpose of showing visitors the opal mine.  Over the past 18 years, he hasn’t stopped.

Recorded on their web site is the following;

“At this point the carvings were not even thought of but after the first year of unofficial business showing a few people the mine I decided to dig a Little extra room at the 35 foot level to give visitors a demonstration of opal cutting.

As the sandstone was excavated for the new room I decided to carve a welcome on the wall and the Chambers of the Black Hand was born.  One carving led to another and then when one room was completed the next room was excavated to allow for more carvings.

With the passing of time and practice I decided on bigger themes like the Egyptian room, animal room etc, I then decided on “David” and the story goes on.

The Big Budda turned into three big buddas and many more Ideas waiting to be born.  My intention is to make the Chambers bigger and as time goes on I will continue to carry on carving either my ideas or requests from our visitors who have in the past given me good ideas.”

We were given a DVD as part of our entry fee and were also informed we could come back at any time today or tomorrow.  We also purchased a couple of items that will remind us of Lightning Ridge (opals).

We returned to our camp and loaded all the pictures we had taken onto our computer.  We are very happy with what we have taken.  We also watched the video we were given and noticed that many of the sculptures have been changed over time.  When unpacking our purchases, we noticed that one of the gems had come loose so we decided to head back to the place we purchased it.  It was also the ideal excuse to put a wide-angle lens on the camera so we could take more pictures of the sculptures.

We broke our return journey to stop at an art gallery run by a local artist, John Murray. He is an exceptional artist and we purchased one of his books.

Returning to the “Chambers of the Black Hand”, we exchanged our items where the gem had become detached.  We had a quick look at the sculptures and “He” took many more pictures with the wide-angle lens.  We were also given a private tour of the lower level of the mine that was a working opal mine.

After leaving the “Chambers of the Black Hand”, we stopped at another opal dealer and purchased another Lightning Ridge opal.  By this time, the afternoon had disappeared so we headed back to our camp site for some cool drinks.

We took advantage of a “Monday Special” at the local bowling club and enjoyed an inexpensive evening meal.

Returning to our camp site just after 7:00pm, we had a quiet night (no television) before heading to bed early.  We were both very tired from descending and climbing lots of steps.

We expected it to be a hot night so vents over our bed were closed and the air conditioner fan left running on low.

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