Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L - Lightning Ridge

Welcome to our tour of Australia. During the month of April we are going to visit our favourite spots in Australia. Come join us on our walkabout through the land down under.

Yesterday we visited the Blue Mountains and rode almost vertically down the side of the mountain on the world's steepest railway. Click here if you missed that post. Today we head towards the outback and look for opals.

Lightning Ridge is in the northern part of the state of New South Wales and is hundreds of miles from any large city. It is known as one of the best places to mine and buy black opals. The town is small and only has about 1500 residents but there is plenty to see and do. It is the perfect place to learn more about the opal mining process, shop in the art galleries, relax in the hot baths or buy opals directly from the mines at prices you won't believe. You can self guide yourself around or go on an organized tour. Its out of the way but it is well worth the trip.
What I loved: At first glance it is like any other small town in rural Australia but looks deceive. The locals are friendly and very willing to educate you on the opal mining industry. It was fun to be able to get a small pickaxe and try our luck mining for opals ourselves. We also got some great deals on some opal jewellery that was less than half the price you would pay anywhere else.

Cost - Prices are in Australian Dollars
Entrance fees vary but are generally under $5-10 per person. ($4-7 USD)
Bus tours include entrance fees in your tour cost. Tours cost between $30-50 per person ($23-35 USD)
More Info:
Lightning Ridge Info 
Lightning Ridge Tours - Self guided or bus tour
Address: Lightning Ridge, NSW, Australia
Most opal mines are located underground.

One mining company tried open cut mining but it wasn't cost effective.

Fossicking for opals. We found a few small pieces of what looks like opal.

This  "mine" shaft leads to an underground opal store. You are able to try your luck mining nearby for a nominal fee.

This is an example of where opal would be found. 

This is what a underground mine would look like.

There is more than just opals here including this castle that one of the locals built.

And this house that has beer bottle walls.
Must have taken a long time to source all of these bottles to build the walls.

Getting There.
Car: Lightning Ridge is about a 8-9 hour drive from Sydney or Brisbane.
Air: Moree airport is the closest airport (1.5 hour flight from Sydney). From the airport it is a 3 hour drive. 
Train: Moree is the closest railway station (10 hour trip from Sydney). From Moree it is about a 3 hour drive. 
Bus: Connecting bus service is available from Dubbo railway station. From Dubbo it is a 4 hour bus ride. Dubbo has daily bus, train and air service from Sydney.
  Have you ever been to Lightning Ridge or something similar? What are you blogging about today?


  1. This looks like a really interesting place. We went to Byron Bay, is that nearby?

  2. That's so cool that you got to mine your own opals

  3. Does Lightning Ridge get struck by a lot of lightning?

    I'd love to mine for my own opals. :)

    The beer bottle walls look neat.

  4. I LOVED the Blue Mountains! Lightning City reminds me of Coober Pedy (a mining town in the Outback). Weird, wonderful, and beautiful place!

  5. Perhaps not a long time to source the bottles for the wall, but many a thirsty person visiting :) That would be fun to try to mine opals.


  6. Whoever made those beer bottle walls must have had a very fun time drinking all that beer!!

  7. Cool. I love the bottle house. The opal mining looks fun, too. I once spent a week on a quartz crystal mine in Arkansas and there were little crystals everywhere in the dirt roads and just all over the place.

  8. I haven't been to Lightning Ridge, although my grandfather used to go up on mining trips. One for the wishlist.


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