Lightning Ridge Area
From fossicking for opals to admiring art in an underground cave, the Lightning Ridge area offers plenty of adventure, history and outback majesty. You can relax in naturally-heated springs, fish on the Darling River and much more in this unique and colourful region.
The historic opal mining town of Lightning Ridge is home to the elusive black opal. Explore a working opal mine on a guided tour at The Big Opal and then try your luck fossicking. You can see rare and precious gems at the Opal Bin, where raw opals are polished into shimmering gemstones.
Visit in July for the annual Lightning Ridge Opal Festival, a four-day celebration of Lightning Ridge and its luminous opal industry. Browse over 150 stalls selling gemstones, lapidary supplies and more, or join in the fun of the Opal Queen Ball, plus other free activities and events.
The Lightning Ridge area is popular for its artesian bore baths, where naturally-heated water springs from the Great Artesian Basin below. Visit the Chambers of the Black Hand to see fabulous carvings in an underground mine.
One hour south of Lightning Ridge is the charming town of Walgett, a former paddle-steamer port, situated near the junction of the Namoi River and Barwon River. Here you can enjoy more naturally-heated artesian bore baths, with the bubbling water reputed to have therapeutic qualities.
Walgett is the northern starting point of the Darling River Run, a 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 and rolling agricultural lands.
Eat and drink in Lightning Ridge area
For coffee and sweet treats, visit Stone's Throw in Walgett and Morillas Café in Lightning Ridge.
Enjoy Italian cuisine at Piccolo Italian Restaurant and Bruno's Italian Restaurant & Take-Away and meet local Opal miners over food and drink at Grawin Opal Miners Sports and Recreation Club.
Getting to Lightning Ridge area
From Sydney and Canberra it takes about 8 hours to drive to Walgett and 9 hours to drive to Lightning Ridge. Alternatively, you can fly to Moree, which is 2-3 hours’ drive away from both towns. 4WD cars are recommended for unsealed roads and many of the national parks. There are a number of places to stay, from motels to camp grounds.