Lightning Ridge

A unique and historic opal mining town in Outback NSW, Lightning Ridge is famed for its rare black opal, mining history and colourful locals. Get up close to an array of beautiful gems at markets and opal stores, try your hand at fossicking and relax in artesian bore baths as you savour the outback wonders of this iconic town.



Rare opals & jewellery

With opalised fossils and handmade jewellery on offer, the Opal Bin is also where you can see raw stones polished into shimmering gemstones. Explore the glittering displays from autumn to spring. You can also join a winter fossil dig and find a dinosaur fossil at the Australian Opal Centre.

Put your new-found mining expertise to use and try your hand at fossicking on a guided tour at The Big Opal or head underground with Outback Opal Tours. Shop for opal jewellery, including the rare black opal, at Down to Earth Opals or Lost Sea Opals

Mined opal at Down to Earth Opals in Lightning Ridge, Outback NSW

Down to Earth Opals, Lightning Ridge

Art, artesian baths & cacti gardens

Visit the Chambers of the Black Hand to see fascinating sculptures carved into the walls of an underground mine. You’ll find carvings of Jack Sparrow, Shrek, a Samurai warrior and much more. The John Murray Art Gallery displays vivid acrylic and watercolour paintings that capture life in Lightning Ridge. 

Guide running a tour of the Chambers of the Black Hand opal mine, Lightning Ridge

Chambers of the Black Hand, Lightning Ridge

Lightning Ridge is also popular for its naturally-heated artesian bore baths. Water from deep inside the Great Artesian Basin flows into an outdoor pool, maintaining a constant temperature of around 40C. Relax in the heated bubbling waters as you gaze up at the starry night sky above. For more outdoor adventure, take a walk through one of the largest collections of cacti in the Southern Hemisphere at Bevan’s Cactus Nursery.

A woman steps into the steaming water at the Lightning Ridge Bore Baths, Lightning Ridge

Lightning Ridge Bore Baths, Lightning Ridge

Quirky museums

You’ll find a huge collection of artefacts at the Bottle House Museum, a fascinating dwelling built entirely of bottles in the 1960s, from what was originally a miner’s camp. Uncover more interesting memorabilia at the Lightning Ridge Heritage Cottage, located inside an authentic miner’s hut from 1932, and see how miners really lived in the 1916-built Coopers Cottage, one of the oldest houses in town. Or explore Amigo’s Castle, an Italianate castle built from ironstone boulders by a former miner.

The heritage-listed Amigo's Castle, Lightning Ridge

Amigo's Castle, Lightning Ridge

Festivals & events

The Lightning Ridge Opal Festival is a four-day celebration of the luminous opal industry held in July each year. Browse over 150 stalls selling gemstones, jewellery and collectables, or join in the fun of the Red on Black Opal Queen Ball, plus other activities and events.

Each year, the Lightning Ridge Easter Festival has plenty of fun events, market stalls and a fireworks display. Check out workshops and pop-up performances in The Edge Fest, a six-week program that runs from March to May or enjoy yoga, meditation and camping on a Full Moon Dreaming retreat.

Man showing visitors opal fragments at the Sheepyard Inn, Lightning Ridge

Man showing visitors opal fragments at Sheepyard Inn, Lightning Ridge

Eat & drink

Enjoy homemade pasta at Bruno's Italian Restaurant, delicious burgers at the Gourmet Gecko, or pub classics at Lucky Brasserie, housed inside the Lightning Ridge Bowling Club. The Sheepyard Inn is around 70km from Lightning Ridge, in the heart of the opal fields, and is the place to share a drink or a meal with dusty miners and colourful characters.

Couple entering Bruno's Italian Restaurant and Takeaway, Lightning Ridge

Bruno's Italian Restaurant and Takeaway, Lightning Ridge

Getting there & where to stay

It takes about nine hours to drive to Lightning Ridge from Sydney and Canberra. Alternatively, you can fly into Moree and hire a car for the three-hour drive. 4WD vehicles are recommended for unsealed roads and many of the national parks. There are a number of places to stay in town, like the Wallangulla Motel and self-contained Bagala Cottage, as well as campgrounds and caravan parks. For an authentic outback experience, book in for a farm stay at Carinya Station or Kigwigil Country Escape. Or live the life of a miner at the quirky Ridge Castle mining camp.


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