Lightning Ridge is the outback mining town that's famous for its rare black opals. Professional prospector Charles Nettleton uncovered the opal-mining potential of the area in 1902; the town has been attracting opal-lovers ever since. Buy your own at one of the many opal stores in town.
About Lightning Ridge
There are a few Mining towns in Australia but none of them are quite unique as Lightning Ridge. Opal is Australia's National Gemstone & Lightning Ridge produces over 95% of these. Make your pilgrimage to the home of the spectacular black opal, the rarest form of Australia's magnificent national gemstone. Lightning Ridge, a charismatic opal town on the edge of the NSW outback, is the world's main source of the most desirable of opals, the unique precious gem coveted since the time of Antony and Cleopatra.
Immerse yourself in over 100 years of opal mining history in the town that honours amazing man made follies, does not know its actual population, and is inhabited by people of some 50 nationalities, living in harmony.
Fossick for your own treasure on lands that 100 million years ago were inhabited by dinosaurs and ancient forests, a stone's throw from the discovery one of the world's most large and valuable uncut black opals. Marvel at opalised plant and animal fossils that are totally unique to Australia â the world's rarest fossils, at the only dinosaur fossil site in NSW.
Experience outback skies, birds, animals, landscapes and hospitality in a place famous for its friendly inhabitants. Befriend someone crazy who can spin a yarn as long as the deepest mining shaft.
Visitors shouldn't miss the amazing art at the underground Chambers of the Black Hand gallery and, from March to November, you can check out the Black Queen at the house hand-built with 14,000 coloured bottles.
If you're settling in for a day or two of fossicking and opal gazing, accommodation in Lightning Ridge is plentiful, with motels, caravan parks, camping grounds, and bed and breakfast options readily available. If you like your bowling, the Chasin' Opal Holiday Cabins are 250m from the local bowling club and feature modern, comfortable rooms.
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Opal Mining at Lightning Ridge
People swimming in the warm artesian bore water baths at Lightning Ridge. Image Nick Rains
Sunset at an opal mine in Lightning Ridge. Image Nick Rains