|An example of black opal - Source|
1- It was not quite the outback but it was pretty close.
2- It would give her an idea of how isolated most of Australia was ---and---
3- it would let her see one of the few places in the world where they mine this precious stone. About 95% of the world's opals come from Australia and just about all of the black opal comes from Australia as well.
|Opal mine at Lightning Ridge|
At first glance there is not much to this town. It has one main street and a dozen or so side streets. There was no McDonalds or Hiltons here, just a couple of motels, a few cafes, and a supermarket. Most of the action occurs out of the main area of town.
It is possible to drive and see the mines and shops by yourself but we decided to take a small tour bus to make things easier and so we wouldn't get lost. We saw a few different places where active mining was going on and were able to go down into a old mine to see just
|Down inside an old mine|
The tour bus then took us to see a house that was built with thousand of glass beer bottles. I'm sure the guy who built this along with his mates had a good time emptying all of the bottles needed to build his house. The final stop took us to one of the largest opal shops in town. The selection here was just mind blowing and was far cheaper than buying elsewhere as there was no middle man to deal with.
After seeing the mine and browsing the stores for opals, artwork, and jewelery, we had
|Part of the beer bottle house.|
I absolutely loved Lightning Ridge. I know everyone kept telling me that it wasn't officially the outback, but it was pretty desolate and the dirt was red. That screams outback to this "Yankee" (the name given to all Americans by the Aussies...I am no Yankee though!). Lightning Ridge was a small town, but I love small towns. The people were all very nice, from the tour guide, to the mine guides, to the shop owners. The opals we purchased were beautiful and I wear them with a smile. If you have a chance to go to Lightning Ridge, I urge you to do it. You won't regret the visit!
Have you been to a mining town? Share that experience with us. We would like to visit a mining town here in the U.S. since we have been to one in Oz.