"Lightning Ridge - Australian Black Opal Country" Lightning Ridge by thedouglas

Lightning Ridge Travel Guide: 51 reviews and 152 photos

Welcome to the Ridge - where anything goes!

This is a cash town - where there are people from all over the world to be found - most of whom are eccentric individuals, who all contribute to making this a wonderffully interesting place to visit. There are representatives of 50 different nationalities in this little town, with a population of 5000 to 6000 - who's counting??? There are 6000 mining claims lying on 2000 distinct mine fields (not the nasty kind!), around the Ridge, and most of the mining done now is underground. A high percentage of the population of The Ridge came to town originally as holiday makers. A few weeks here convinces them that Lightning Ridge is a social oasis in the vast expanses of the Australian Outback - and a place to hang your hat for good!

Located in New South Wales - it lies 767kms from Sydney and 709 kms from Brisbane - about half way - and there is an airport and bus services.

The tourism highlight of the year is the Easter Goat Races - which are attended from far and wide, but there are many and varied things to see and do at what is affectionately known as "The Ridge".

This pic depicts John Murray's flying van (see Things to Do tip), and you know you are in for something different the moment you hit the town!

Quickie town history.......

The first real interest in opal here was when Jack Murray, a boundary rider, found a floater in 1900 while setting a rabbit trap for dog food. He sank the first shaft on Lightnight Ridge in 1901. It is now the foremost location for black opal in the world.

This stone is awesome - no two are alike, and they change with every minute move - and are glorious in the sun. Opal is mined here from 1m to 30m depth, and is found in dedimentary rocks that were deposited in freshwater environment during the Cretaceous Period - about 110 million years ago.

Lightning ridge is thought to be an apt name for the home of such a beautiful gem. Although unofficial, it was the name given to the region long before discovery of the opal.

Since the start of the community, it has grown and maintained its position as the world's foremost black opal mining area, and been worked continuously and prosperously by professional and private enterprises. Many "rags to riches" tales are to be told at The Ridge.

Some excellent photographic opportunities..

There are many sights to see at Lightning Ridge - many of which you will never see again - and possibly not want to! Many of the buildings, both inhabited and abaondoned, provide conversation and wonderment for a long time. Like most Australian small country towns, there are characters, folklore and an abundance of character once you scratch the surface.

This is fascinating and enticing part of real outback Australia - and I love to visit.

There is a need for the history of these sorts of places to be shared and appreciated. And, like most places in the world, the best experiences can be had in the "Off the Beaten Track" locations. For an experience that is truly Australian, The Ridge is a really great place to visit. There are plenty of opportunities to fossick, visit working mines and buy opal in the rough, as well as get the best priced opals, set and unset, from the locals. Forget the triplet and doublet rubbish you can buy in most of the giftshops in the big smoke. You have to see these beauties to believe them.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Country Australia - with all the trappings
  • Cons:Can't afford to buy all the opal i want!
  • In a nutshell:The Opal in Australia's crown!
  • Last visit to Lightning Ridge: Mar 2004
  • Intro Updated Nov 9, 2006
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Reviews (18)

Comments (15)

  • omidamini's Profile Photo
    Jun 30, 2009 at 9:17 PM

    Thanks for good page, I hope can see your country because it is very nice place.

  • mavl's Profile Photo
    Jun 23, 2007 at 1:47 PM

    i've learned to have low expectations when i travel so as not to get disappointed. plus promo pics always make places look better than they are. that said, it's still a unique place.

  • Ekaterinburg's Profile Photo
    Nov 29, 2006 at 2:14 PM

    I could do with some opals although reading this really different page has cheered me up considerably. Those sunset photos are very atmospheric. Who says you guys are not photohraphers?

  • Jenniflower's Profile Photo
    Nov 9, 2006 at 8:13 AM

    What a delightful glimpse into a very interestingly named place! The opal and cactus farm sounds fascinating. Amazing what gems (pun intended) these little tons hold. :)

  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo
    Oct 31, 2006 at 10:27 AM

    fascinating page - don't know how I missed it earlier. Sunset at Lunatic is great foto.

  • bijo69's Profile Photo
    Oct 13, 2006 at 3:26 PM

    Great! Looks like the place to go for me! Maybe I have to re-consider my plans for my upcoming trip...

  • BerniShand's Profile Photo
    Oct 2, 2006 at 10:38 PM

    what a wonderful place, and a great page, I love opals. I have a feeling that Id never get Carl away from the mullock heaps if we ever went there

  • craic's Profile Photo
    Sep 30, 2006 at 10:39 PM

    amazing page - really makes me want to go there

  • ATXtraveler's Profile Photo
    Aug 20, 2006 at 3:46 PM

    Thanks for the tips on LR... also, way to go Aussie on getting to 11 on the rookie ranking!

  • pepples46's Profile Photo
    Aug 3, 2006 at 11:47 PM

    I bought in C.P. and was absolutly delighted, still am. I think I drove through The Ridge all the way from Brissy to Sydney..georgous page, you got a way with words :-))and John Murray with his paintbrush

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