Lightning Ridge Area

From fossicking for opals to admiring sculptures in an underground cave and relaxing in naturally-heated springs, the Lightning Ridge area offers a bounty of memorable experiences against the backdrop of the majestic Outback. Explore the Darling River and enjoy all the wonders this unique and colourful region has to offer.

Lightning Ridge area highlights


Lightning Ridge

The star of Australia’s opal mining industry, these sparkling stones were first discovered in Lightning Ridge in the 1880s. It's famous for its elusive black opals, the rarest and most valuable opal in the world. See these spectacular gems at the Opal Bin, where raw opals are polished into shimmering beauties. Tour an opal mine at The Big Opal and try your luck fossicking or visit the world-class underground Australian Opal Centre.

Opal experience full day tour with Outback Opal Tours - Lightning Ridge

Outback Opal Tours, Lightning Ridge

The Lightning Ridge Opal Festival is a four-day celebration of Lightning Ridge and its luminous opal and gem industry, held every July. Browse over 150 stalls selling gemstones, jewellery and collectibles. The opal and gem expo culminates with the unmissable Red on Black Opal Queen Ball and the crowning of the Opal Queen.

Couple enjoying a tour of the Chambers of the Black Hand opal mine in Lightning Ridge, Outback NSW

Chambers of the Black Hand, Lightning Ridge

Visit the amazing Chambers of the Black Hand to see 900 fabulous carvings along sandstone walls 12m underground, or browse vivid landscapes by local artist John Murray at his art gallery

Street art by artist John Murray at the John Murray Art Gallery, Lightning Ridge

John Murray Art Gallery, Lightning Ridge

The Lightning Ridge area is also well known for its soothing artesian bore baths, where naturally-heated water springs from the Great Artesian Basin below. Take a dip in the free outdoor baths in Lightning RidgeWalgett and Burren Junction.

Couple enjoying a visit to the Lightning Ridge Bore Baths in Lightning Ridge, Outback NSW

Lightning Ridge Bore Baths, Lightning Ridge


One hour south of Lightning Ridge is the charming town of Walgett, a former paddle-steamer port near the junction of the Namoi River and Barwon River. Here you can enjoy more thermal artesian bore baths, with gorgeous temperate waters famed for their therapeutic qualities.

Walgett is the northern starting point of the Darling River Run, an epic 950km touring route that follows the river all the way to the historic river port of Wentworth. This fascinating four-day road trip brings to life Australia’s pioneering days, passing wonderful scenery, riverside wineries and rolling agricultural lands.

Full day tour on a unique pub crawl with Outback Opal Tours, Lightning Ridge

Outback Opal Tours, Lightning Ridge

Eat & drink

For coffee and sweet treats, visit local favourites Stone's Throw and Blend & Co in Walgett. In Lightning Ridge, enjoy Italian cuisine at Bruno's Italian Restaurant or burgers at Gourmet Gecko. To share a drink with colourful local characters and a few opal miners, head the Grawin Opal Miners Sports and Recreation Club or the Sheepyard Inn, both in the middle of the opal fields.

4wd headed towards the Nettleton's First Shaft Lookout in Lightning Ridge, Outback NSW

Nettleton's First Shaft Lookout, Lightning Ridge

Getting there & where to stay

From Sydney and Canberra it takes about eight hours to drive to Walgett and nine hours to drive to Lightning Ridge. Alternatively, you can fly into Moree and hire a car for the two to three hour drive. 4WD vehicles are recommended for unsealed roads and many of the national parks. There are a number of places to stay, from motels to camp grounds.

Plan your trip