White Cliffs is a little town that is one of those places that can either really grow on you, or you can’t get out of fast enough – it has different effects on different people.
There is a mix of old and new – there is little sign of commercialism, certainly no hustle or bustle and few people will say it is actually a beautiful place – but for all of that, it simply oozes in charm and rough bush character. Yes, when you reach White Cliffs you know you’ve really arrived in the Australian Outback … and if you catch ‘opal fever’ whilst you are there (like many others), you might never leave!
If that doesn’t convince you, here are five extra reasons why White Cliffs is worth paying a visit to.
1. A popular activity is to drive around some of the meandering trails through the satellite settlements discovering lots of unusual things along the way. Yes, look out for plenty of ‘curiosities’ out here, including a series of lone dunnies sitting amongst mullock heaps with location names painted on them such as “Everybody’s”, “Nobody’s” and “Somebody’s”. Other strange sights include an old dilapidated ‘B. & B.’ caravan with curious signs such as ‘wireless internet’ and ‘water views’! There are also a couple of old mine shafts intriguingly labelled ‘Kangaroo B. & B.’.
2. As you travel the fascinating trails around White Cliffs, there is also plenty of opportunity to stop for a while and noodle (fossick) through some of the old mullock heaps looking for a colourful piece of opal as a souvenir of your visit.
3. On the edge of town is Australia’s first experimental solar power station which commenced operation way back in 1981. Although this historic facility closed down a number of years ago (it now stands as a historic display) and was replaced by power for the town now coming from the state-wide grid, the big circular discs still here continue to be a strange sight on the landscape.
4. The White Cliffs Underground Motel is (estimated to be the size of a small football field), is a unique experience in itself. Operating for over 20 years, the motel has been built into the side of a mesa hill and is the perfect establishment in which to beat the heat. The temperature in the motel remains a pleasant 22-23 degrees year-round, so conditions are ideal for browsing the gallery, enjoying a meal in the restaurant or visiting the history and cultural centre.
5. If you’ve come to White Cliffs and want to see a working opal mine, head for Red Earth Opal Café and Showroom. Tours run daily at 3pm and offer an informative glimpse into the modern day techniques of opal mining, plus a history of opal mining in the region. You can also rent a cave cottage on the premises, refuel at the café, or perhaps indulge and purchase an opal for yourself.