Cotton litters the roadside from Moree to Lightning Ridge. Emus abound. There’s even an enormous sculpture of an Emu made from scrap, including an old VW Bug, just before Lightning Ridge.
I must admit, I was skeptical as to what would be on offer in Lightning Ridge… Happily proven wrong, we could’ve spent longer than three nights. Ingenuity abounds in mining, house building and sign writing. So, what IS there to see and do in this outback town? Well, opal for starters.
There are a number of mines offering tours. We went on a self guided tour of the Walk In Mine. Easily accessible, it had plenty of information on opal mining and an interesting movie on some local identities and life in Lightning Ridge. For a mine with a difference, The Chambers of the Black Hand Mine is filled with sculptures and paintings by the original miner. He’s still doing more. We were lucky enough to see him at work and he let Mr 4 have a turn with the paintbrush.
Mr 4 loooved fossicking and digging through various rock heaps looking for that elusive piece of opal. Actually, he was happy digging and making his own mines in the heaps. Any opal potch was a bonus!
There is a castle. Built by hand. By one man. Amigo’s Castle is a labour of love that was sadly halted halfway through. When word got out that Amigo had been collecting large rocks from around Lightning Ridge to build his castle, he was taken to court by an environmental group that alleged he stole the rocks from Crown Land. True story. Eventually it reached a judge who threw it out saying Amigo hadn’t stolen the rocks, he’d just “relocated” them. However he was not allowed to collect anymore, so the castle remains unfinished. Well worth a look. Mr 4 and I enjoyed playing King of the Castle in an actual castle.
Car doors are a thing in Lightning Ridge. The peeps there love writing a sign on an old car door. There’s even a series of self guided car door tours around local landmarks. We drive round a few and they were pretty interesting.
As for accommodation, there’s a variety of options. We chose to stay at Lorne Station, a few k’s out of town. Laid back camping and the Manager’s dog had recently birthed a litter of pups which Mr 4 had a great time playing with.
Definitely worth a look – Lightning Ridge #expecttheunexpected