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Black Opal Classic ‘Big Reveal’ painting

Bobby and Madeleine John Murray Style. Photo TWH

Since 1996, Lightning Ridge’s very own artist John Murray has painted a portrait for the Black Opal Classic Bowls Tournament, with Cockatoos representing the players.

This year, the work is titled ‘Aristocrat 2022 – Peter Williams Black Opal Classic’.

Over the years, the Cockatoos have evolved into representing either bowlers or people of importance concerning the Lightning Ridge District Bowling Club.

John worked closely with Peter Williams in the early days regarding the paintings’ characters; now he liaises with Scott Bailey and the Board of Directors from the Club.

In true Lightning Ridge style, John has always kept his fee to a minimum with the proceeds of the painting John puts back into sponsoring the local footy team.

In 2018 the painting was adapted to the shirts of the bowlers. The collaboration has proven popular with bowlers and tourists alike.

The characters in this year’s painting relate to the history and humble beginnings of the Club.

The bird on the left is Bobby Ward, who came to the Ridge in the 1950s and was a passionate man when it came to mining and the town.

Bobby voluntarily invested much of his time into the community when he wasn’t mining. He was a jack of all trades, a great mechanic, and had a passion for ham radio or anything electrical. Bobby was always there to lend a hand.

Back in the day, ‘The Diggers Rest’ was the watering hole where the locals would catch up to have a beer and a yarn and organise things like working bees; anything that needed doing would start at the pub.

Bobby contributed much of his time and energy (as did many locals) to getting the Club opened –from fencing the boundary to electrical work and everything in between.

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