In partnership with Walgett Shire Council.
Lightning Ridge, located in the North West region of New South Wales, is well known for its quirky characters, black opals and hot artesian bore baths.
Beyond this, Lightning Ridge is also a robust foodie destination. The town is home to a plethora of delicious feasts, including a duo of Italian restaurants; a string of cafes serving ‘real’ coffee and fresh baked treats; as well as specialty nights, such as Mexican, loaded parmis, burgers, curry nights or fish and chip Fridays. Lightning Ridge has visitors enjoying a decent latte, while still maintaining its colourful country charm.
Take a stickybeak around Lunatic Hill Open Cut mine, which was once one of the richest sources of black opal ever found, and now serves as a fitting monument to its lucky (and unlucky) miners. For the finished product, see jeweller Jo Lindsay’s creations at Lost Sea Opals, or check out the Australian Opal Centre to see 100-million-year-old opalised fossils.
Lightning Ridge’s shanty-chic architecture is as colourful as the gemstones that funded it. To admire the town’s quirky builds, head to the Beer Can House, or check out Amigo’s Castle – made from ironstone boulders. See if you can strike it lucky with Outback Opal Tours on a full-day jaunt into opal rush territory.
Take advantage of the eclectic arts scene in Lightning Ridge, with several galleries in town, including the John Murray Art Gallery. And be sure to save a little time for shopping – with more than 20 opal shops and showrooms around town, you’re bound to find a gem or two! Say hi to John, the only black opal mining cactus farmer in the world. He will share with you his passion for the prickly plants while you wander the largest display of old and rare cacti in the Southern Hemisphere at Bevan’s Black Opal & Cactus Nursery.
Before you leave Lightning Ridge, it’s worth stopping to say hello to Stanley, the 18-metre-high emu towering over the Castlereagh Highway. He is the brainchild of John Murray and is made from scrap metal, three Volkswagen bodies and a pair of rusting satellite dishes.
To plan your holiday to Lightning Ridge, visit www.walgett.nsw.gov.au.