By Darren Stones
Over the decades the lure of riches has drawn many Australian city slickers to the opal fields of Lightning Ridge in New South Wales. It is a tight-knit community with unique idiosyncrasies, and that is part of its allure. With a strong reliance on tourism, the Ridge offers experiences that could stay etched in your memory.
Take a mine tour and explore the depths of confined working areas; see the unique golf course with its greens that are not green; take a Red Car Door Tour in the dusty and rugged mining area – that’s something a little different from the norm.
The locals gathered at the pub enjoy spinning a yarn for out-of-towners whilst downing a few ales. I’ve found some of the local tour operators to be more than just characters – they are entertainers who gain laughs at the drop of a hat. Whether there’s much truth in half of what they say is open to debate, however it sure leaves the tourists with a smile on their dial and the feeling of having received value for money.
Lightning Ridge is best visited from April to September. With stifling summer temperatures, even some of the locals head to the coast for a few months relief. It’s a place where the gift of the gab helps to sell black opals.
Lightning Ridge Australia - www.wj.com.au