September 18 - 24, 2022: Issue 555


Wingala Lapidary Arts & Crafts Group

You can turn ordinary looking rocks into your own unique and beautiful jewellery at the Wingala Lapidary Club. This necklace on the right is made from the other half of the stone on the left:

Wingala is the only lapidary club on the northern beaches. It is located in Harbord Park, off Wyadra Avenue in Freshwater and is now open to new members.

Lapidary is the art of turning common stones, semi-precious gems and precious gems into beautiful jewellery or display pieces.

Sessions are held on Mondays and Wednesdays during the day and on Thursday nights.

No previous experience is necessary as you will be guided by experienced members who will help you produce a simple piece of jewellery in just one or two sessions.

The club is fully equipped with grinding wheels, buffing belts and polishers as well as silver jewellery equipment for more advanced projects.

For more information, phone Ian Lee on 0417 488 231

The long, long trailer lives again. Remember the old movie? It is often on TV of a Saturday afternoon. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz travel around America in an enormous travel trailer or caravan as we call it. Lucy collects rocks. So many the weight brings car and caravan grinding to a halt on a long and dangerous climb through the Sierra Nevada mountains.

It is happening here in Australia. Every year more and more people head off in caravans and almost everybody does some fossicking. 

They find opal at Lightning Ridge, sapphires at Inverell, petrified wood at Chinchilla and zircons in the Harts Ranges. Other finds include agate, carnelian, topaz, quartz crystal, jasper and chrysoprase.

Wingala club members fossicking for precious and semi-precious gems on a gravel pit in outback New South Wales

What can you do with the rock you bring home?

Wingala Lapidary Club has the answer. It is the only lapidary club on the Northern beaches and by joining you can learn to turn your rocks into unique jewellery. What a thrill to wear something you found and personally crafted!

Right: Grinding a stone into shape for jewellery at Wingala Lapidary Club. After the initial shaping, the stone will be finished on fine sanding wheels and then polished on a rotary buff. 

Wingala has all the equipment. If, unlike Lucy, you have no suitable rock, slabs are available for you to transform. New members are given a slab and coached through their first project.

The club was established in 1962 by a group of enthusiasts attending evening classes in lapidary at the Manly Boys High School. Two founding members, Marie Kinnersly and Ron Orth, were active in the day to day operation of the club.

Wingala is in the south east corner of Harbord Park, adjacent to the corner of Wyadra Avenue and Oliver St, Freshwater. It is thought that Marie’s father built the Harbord Park premises for the local cricket club before World War II.

Before moving to Harbord Park, Wingala led a nomadic existence. From operating in members’ garages, it moved to Hibiscus Park Nursery at Warriewod, then to the Presbyterian Church at Allambie Heights before moving in 1971 to a disused kiosk at Brookvale Oval. 

A fire forced a move to the Hallstrom Pavilion at the oval and then another move took the club to rented premises in Harbord.

In 1976, Wingala moved to the Manly Surf pavilion before demolition forced another move in 1980 to Narrabeen. Sale of the premises forced storage of equipment for 12 months. 

Since February 1985, Wingala has been in Harbord Park. New members are always welcome. When they join, they are coached through making a cabochon, or domed stone, suitable for jewellery. Members are all happy to pass on their knowledge and skills to newcomers.

The club currently has around 50 members. Many are retired but there is a growing group of younger members who work in the evening. 

We are friendly club on with a fully equipped club house. Our activities include: faceting of gem stones, cutting and polishing cabochons, gemstone carving, making of silver or gold settings and jewellery and sculpture enamelling.

The club has qualified teachers for all its actives to help new members to acquire the skills to work on their own and runs occasional mini workshops in Precious Metal Clay, Hebel block carving, silver work etc. We also have a stock of rough stone for members and sterling silver findings for setting stones.


  • New member joining fee. 20.00
  • Annual member fee. 40.00 (due 1 Jan)
  • Annual family fee. 60.00
  • Daily visit fee. 5.00

Tips & Safety On Field Trips

  • Take every precaution while on field trips like making sure you have the right gear like gloves, boots, drinking water and basic supplies.
  • Fill in your holes after digging and beware of overhanging rocks and ledges that could collapse while digging below.
  • Don't go into old mine shafts as most are unstable and air quality can never be guaranteed
  • Always wear safety glasses when breaking or chiselling on rocks.
  • Watch out for snakes and spiders because as a rock hound you're more prone to finding these critters than others.
  • Always close gates after you and always take your rubbish home with you if there isn't a proper place to leave it
  • Always tell someone where you are before you leave in case something goes wrong!
  • Always have a first aid kit close by
  • If you haven't been to an area before draw yourself a map or have a map with you so you don't get lost. Mobile phones don't work everywhere!
  • Wear a good hat and sunscreen so you don't get sunburnt.

Disclaimer: It is your responsibility to ask permission from any private property owner at any location when searching for gemstones before you enter any such property. You may also be required to possess a fossicking license as per state laws.

Sessions are held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9:30 am and 3:30 pm. Evening sessions are held on the first and third Tuesday of the month from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. 

For further information, contact Ian Lee on 0417 488 231

 Ron Orth showing opals and other gems he found and cut. Ron was one of the founding members of Wingala lapidary Club in 1965. 

 Who could believe that a dirty old stone, in this case a 100 million year old piece of petrified wood, can be transformed into unique and attractive jewellery.

 Michelle, a member, making her own jewellery at Wingala Lapidary Club