Like the glittering facets of the black opals that make Lightning Ridge famous, this iconic outback town presents an array of colourful experiences. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere and wielding a rugged façade, Lightning Ridge nonetheless boasts an unmistakable allure, owing no doubt to the surprisingly diverse attractions, the quirky locals and the relaxed atmosphere.
Black opal was first discovered in Lightning Ridge in the 1870s, with the ensuing decades leading to a time of prosperity that is still evident today. Today, you can browse the many opal shops in town and marvel at the beautiful gems that are literally being pulled from the ground around you. For an insight into where these treasures come from, make your way into one of Lightning Ridge’s famous opal mines, with the Walk-in Mine and Big Opal Underground Mine tours offering fascinating experiences underground. Afterwards, you can either scrub off the desert dust in Lightning Ridge’s free artesian baths, or cool off is the Olympic Pool and Water Theme Park.
There are plenty more things to do and see that showcase the creativity and individuality of Lightning Ridge and its inhabitants. Check out the collection of cacti at Bevan’s Black Opal and Cactus Garden, or visit the Chambers of the Black Hand to see over 700 sandstone carvings and paintings located 12 metres underground. Catch a show at Black Queen Theatre on the Ridge, where history and storytelling are dramatically woven together in a camp built from thousands of recycled bottles and cans, or pop into John Murray Art Gallery for a whimsical photo-realistic perspective on the region.
Accommodation in town caters for every taste and budget, with motels, caravan parks, and bed and breakfasts available. Dining options are also varied, with the Club in the Scrub a great place to enjoy a refreshment or two while listening to the tales of local miners. There are so many adventures to be had in this unexpected region, and they’re yours to uncover today.