Lightning Ridge was named in 1870, after a lightning strike that killed a shepherd and hundreds of sheep. The site is marked with a huge steel sculpture of an emu as you near the town from the south.
The black opal for which 'The Ridge' is famous for was discovered in the 1870s.
That’s not all Lightning Ridge has to offer though, here are five more reasons to pay a visit to this remote Outback town:
1. Fall under the spell of the black opal, the most brilliant and valued of all opal types. This opal is formed on a dark quartz layer, which best displays the bright reds, blues and yellows in the opal layer above. Make sure you go on an opal tour, try your luck at fossicking in the heap near the Visitors Centre, or purchase your opal in town.
2. Be amazed by the Chambers of the Black Hand. In a 100 year old mine, Ron Canlin has carved and painted hundreds of figures along the sandstone walls, including a three metre high Buddha. The whole gallery is the work of just this one man: both the inspiration for the figures and the huge number of hours of carving and painting.
3. Soothe away your aches and pains under the stars in the public hot bore baths, or swim in the impressive olympic pool and water theme park.
4. Follow the car door signs (which replace street names) for self-drive tours of the area. The stark beauty of the area attracts many artists and photographers. The old church on the yellow car door tour was erected for the movie "Goddess of 67". Drive the 60km out to the Grawin opal fields and chat with the miners at the Grawin opal miners club, and have a drink at the Glengarry Hilton at the Glengarry opal fields, to experience the unique characters and atmosphere.
5. Check out the historical relics and eccentricities. Fred Bodel's camp is the oldest mining camp in Lightning Ridge and shows the hard life of the early miners. Amigo's castle was hand-built by one man over 25 years, and is a work in progress. The builder of the Astronomer's Monument was previously persecuted and jailed, as were the early astronomers like Galileo.