David Lane OAM, President
A former mayor and long-serving councillor of Walgett Shire Council, David Lane has an extensive history of volunteer public service in high-level roles including s state president of New South Wales State Emergency Service Volunteers Association, vice president of the Western Group of Councils, controller of Lightning Ridge SES, member of Lightning Ridge Advisory Board (Department of Industry and Investment), member of Lightning Ridge Mining Board, and vice president of Lightning Ridge Police Bush Safari committee. David was instrumental in establishing Lightning Ridge Mines Rescue Unit, where he participated in over 30 mine rescues. He currently serves on the board of the SES Volunteers welfare fund.
David has extensive business experience including as a company director dealing in grain logistics, waste centre management, farming, earth moving contracting and heavy haulage. He was previously owner / manager of an electrical retail and wholesale company and of a bulk wholesale and retail fuel outlet, and an opal miner.
David was the founding president of LROFC Inc and returned to this role in December 2017. He is also a Life Member and Founder of the Australian Opal Centre.
David has received a National Service Medal, a Centenary Medal, NSW SES Commissioner Commendation for Service, was awarded life membership of the SES association and also a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to local government and to the community.
Sally Weeks, Vice President
Sally Weeks is a longtime resident of Lightning Ridge, having grown up in the Cumborah-Lightning Ridge district. Sally has first hand experience of the opal mining industry, as her husband Paul was a full-time opal miner until they purchased Lightning Ridge Newsagency in 1995. In 2017, after a fire destroyed the newsagency premises, Sally sold the business and now works part-time as a bookkeeper for local businesses.
Sally has been involved with many community organisations including junior soccer, athletics and swimming clubs as well as Lightning Ridge Isolated Children and Parents Association (ICPA). She has supported many other local community organisations and activities.
Justine Buckley, Secretary
Justine Buckley has been a local business owner, opal cutter and carver, and jewellery designer for more than 20 years and runs an opal mining business with her husband. Since 2004, she has been manager of Opal Bin, a retail shop in Lightning Ridge.
Justine previously managed a tour company in Lightning Ridge. She was also formerly a board member of Lightning Ridge Tourism Association and a leading member of Lightning Ridge Easter Events Committee. Prior to becoming involved with the opal and tourism industries, Justine was a commercial photographer.
Dr Elizabeth Smith, Committee Member
Dr Elizabeth Smith is a palaeontologist, author, artist and authority on the opalised fossils of Lightning Ridge. Elizabeth is author of Black Opal Fossils of Lightning Ridge – Treasures from the Rainbow Billabong (1999) and many articles on opalised fossils, and is a former Research Associate of the Australian Museum, Sydney.
Elizabeth attended the University of Sydney and Julian Ashton Art School, Sydney and was formerly a professional opal cutter, commercial illustrator, teacher and publicist. She is a Life Member, AOC Founder and long-serving AOC committee member, where she provides a fossil identification service; helps manage the world’s premiere collection of opalised fossils; facilitates donations of significant items to the AOC and other cultural institutions through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program; leads AOC school education programs; facilitates and participates in scientific research, cultural activities and writing of submissions and reports; and is a key team member in the annual AOC/Australian Geographic Fossil Dig.
Elizabeth has made an unprecedented contribution to preserving opalised fossils for scientific research. She is also passionate about documenting and preserving the natural history and cultural heritage of Australian opal fields, and has documented the opalised fossil flora and fauna, sites and assemblages of Lightning Ridge in her PhD thesis (University of New South Wales, Sydney 2009) and subsequent peer-reviewed papers.
Damien Waterford, Committee Member
Damien Waterford is manager of Lorne Holiday Station at Lightning Ridge and is a former president, and current vice president, of Lightning Ridge Tourism Association. Damien’s family has lived in Lightning Ridge for many decades, with Waterford family members playing numerous important roles in industry and community life. Damien is an AOC Founder.
Jenni Brammall, Manager, Australian Opal Centre
Jenni Brammall has been manager of Australian Opal Centre / Lightning Ridge Opal and Fossil Centre since 2004. She has overseen the project’s development from an ambitious dream to a substantial reality; and from local government seed funding to a self-funding enterprise with diverse stakeholders, activities and assets. Jenni has fostered relationships with other organisations in the opal, gemstone industry, tourism, scientific research, education, museum and cultural sectors; developed and implemented AOC programs; and applied for, managed and acquitted local, NSW and Federal government grant-funded projects for the AOC.
Jenni is a palaeontologist, gemmologist, opal valuer, and a valuer of fossils and opal-related items for the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. Her professional background includes postgraduate research and fieldwork in vertebrate palaeontology; scientific photography; scientific research assistant and university tutor; journalism, event management, exhibition development, opal cutting and carving; jewellery design, opal sales and marketing, photography, writing, graphic design and publication.
A former board member of Lightning Ridge Tourism Association, Jenni has involvement with many community organisations. She currently sits on the Reserve Trust for Lightning Ridge Historical Reserve, is a member of the Opal Committee of the Gemmological Association of Australia, a Life Member of Lightning Ridge Historical Society, a Life Member and Founder of the AOC, and serves on the editorial committee of The Australian Gemmologist.
Darren Naumann AM, Honorary Infrastructure Advisor
Brigadier Darren Naumann (retd) is Honorary Infrastructure Advisor to the AOC management committee. Darren brings a wealth of infrastructure delivery experience from his management of Australia’s multi-billion dollar Defence national capital facilities program, and 36 years in leadership, management, engineering and project, program, and portfolio management.
During his career with the Australian Army, Darren held leadership, military engineering and infrastructure management appointments including six years with the US Army Corps of Engineers and UK Ministry of Defence. He oversaw infrastructure projects from Malaysia to the Cook Islands, including in Aboriginal communities across Australia, under both traditional and public-private partnership modes of delivery.
He has developed and implemented business improvement initiatives for management of the Defence estate in the UK and Australia, and seen operational service as the Force Engineer for the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET). During his last five years in Defence, Darren served as Director General Capital Facilities and Infrastructure, managing capital infrastructure works on Defence establishments throughout Australia – a $7 billion portfolio of over 200 projects with annual capital expenditure of over $1.2 billion.
In early 2015, Darren retired from the Australian Regular Army. The Premier of NSW appointed Darren as Regional Recovery Coordinator after the 2015 Hunter Valley and Central Coast super storm. Darren then established Anevay Solutions, a company providing strategic infrastructure, governance, incident management, procurement, and Defence advisory services.
Darren holds an Honours degree in Civil Engineering and a Master of Business Administration. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and an accredited Certified Practicing Portfolio Executive of the Australian Institute of Project Management. Darren was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for exceptional service to Defence.