In the 22nd edition of this book, Ion Idriess tells of his beginnings, of his childhood in Lismore, Tamworth and Broken Hill, of his apprenticeship in bushcraft, and of the growing love for the Australian Outback which illumines all his work. He tells of the jobs he had, - as rouseabout, horse breaker, horse tailer, shearer - and of his wanderings to the opal mines of Lightning Ridge. He became one of the band of opal-seekers who live in these pages, sharing their heartbreaks and their sudden, wild exultations. And the stories he tells of his mates are little gems in themselves, vivid in characterization, rich in sympathy and understanding. In the descriptions of opal gouging, and the technique of "clipping" and "facing" opals. Idriess is in his element. Obviously his heart has been completely captured by these magic stones of flame and orange, in which, it seems to him, all the life and the colour of centuries have been imprisoned… Lightning Ridge throws light on the authors own background, and is a lively account of the rough camaraderie of life in the bush and on the opal fields. Adelaide Advertiser, 1940
Ion Idriess (1889—1979) is one of Australias best-loved writers, with fifty-six books to his credit and millions of copies sold. When he returned from the First World War he wrote The Desert Column, about his experiences with the 5th Light Horse. Prospecting for Gold was his first major successful work; it immediately sold out and was reprinted constantly in the following years, as were many of his books. Idriess spent much of his life travelling throughout Australia, collecting material for his true-life stories, including Flynn of the Inland, The Red Chief and Nemarluk. He was awarded the O.B.E. in 1968 for his contribution to Australian literature.