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“The foresight of the AOC committee and of this project is wonderful. The benefits it will bring to everyone in the town when it opens are huge.”

Lightning Ridge District Bowling Club
$10,000 AOC Founder
AOC Business Member

At the heart of the Lightning Ridge community, Lightning Ridge District Bowling Club has supported local charities, sporting and community organisations, and people in need for more than 50 years. Here, Club Manager Scott Franklin explains why becoming an AOC Founder was a natural fit for the Club and why other businesses should also support the Australian Opal Centre.

“The Australian Opal Centre (AOC) really is a good idea and something I’ve been passionate about Lightning Ridge District Bowling Club being a part of for a while. I’ve been managing this club for over a year now. When I first came to town I didn’t know anything about opals or mining. I had visited the Ridge before, but it was mainly to play lawn bowls so I didn’t really understand the concept of opals or anything about the industry or way of life.

Last year the Club celebrated its 50th anniversary. Each year, we give over $60,000 back to people and organisations within our local area, as well as provide in-kind support and subsidies. We support things like the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Flying Doctors, the local retirement village, sporting clubs, Meals On Wheels – anyone in town really, if they’ve got something they require that’s a worthwhile project or need, the Club helps.

I brought the AOC project to the Club’s attention after I had the privilege of attending the 2017 International Opal Jewellery Design Awards event, which was held at our venue. When the AOC President Vicki Bokros read out the names of the current Founders during her speech, I asked myself ‘why aren’t we a part of this too?’. I wanted to make sure we did something about that.

I did a little bit of research to really understand what the new AOC building is going to be, and for me it was a no brainer the Club should be involved. The size of the facility is impressive. It’s not just going to be a little shack, and that really hit home to me about how fair dinkum this is. It’s an ongoing concern that will be the biggest tourist attraction outside of Dubbo Zoo in our area.

The foresight of the AOC committee and of this project is wonderful. The benefits it will bring to everyone in the town when it opens are huge, and the flow on effects to the Club will be astronomical, I believe. From the construction of the building to the fact it could potentially double tourism numbers – it’s an absolute winner. Pretty much every business in Lightning Ridge relies on tourism to survive, and the survival of the Club is dependent on the survival of the town. So when it grows stronger, so do we and other local businesses too.

Any visitor who comes to town will come to the Club, have a meal and a beer, play the pokies or bowls – there’s so many things you can do there. When people from out of town come to play bowls, they can’t believe the size of the club for a little town like Lightning Ridge. And it was really built on the opal industry, the successes of the 80s and 90s.

We still have a strong connection; the annual Opal Festival uses the club’s facilities, and when the AOC opens that event can only get bigger. This will help the Club succeed, and the more our business grows, the more we can help the local community as well as improve and upgrade facilities.

Over the past year I’ve learnt a lot about how important opal is – it’s not just Australia’s national gemstone, but our State’s gemstone too. So really, the AOC will not only do great things for Lightning Ridge, but also for the whole opal industry. It can only make that stronger too and put us and other opal mining locations more on the map, not just in Australia but throughout the world. Even the battling little opal miner out in their camp, it can assist them as well. Whether it increases prices of opal or awareness of opal.

This is something that could help the town become prosperous again, create jobs, careers for local kids. A town is alive, it’s a growing thing, the same as a business – and if you don’t evolve you can go the other way. You can judge some smaller towns by their clubs, and ours is still going. But to keep it going, it doesn’t just happen. So we need to make every effort to ensure the town is healthy and support a project like this.

I encourage everyone to think about the direct benefits to them. If you put $10,000 or $30,000 or more into this venture, what’s your return on investment? I really think it’s the best return on investment we’ll get over the next 10, 20 or 30 years – and into the future. If government and private funding is prepared to put that sort of money into this, it’s not just a fly by night thing. It’s here to stay.”

If you’d like to join Lightning Ridge District Bowling Club as an AOC Founder, please click here for a Founders Brochure and Application Form. For more information contact Olivia Ward by calling
0400 225 751 or emailing founders@australianopalcentre.com. We look forward to hearing from you!