White Cliffs competes with Tibooburra for the status as the hottest town in outback New South Wales. It's so hot that the majority of the town's building are found under the ground. Many residents also live in dug-out caves and connected rooms under the earth's surface to escape the searing heat of summer.
The landscape is said to be like the arid surface of the moon with craters, hillocks and flat plains stretching far into the distance. Kangaroos, emus, lizards and a variety of wildlife are still able to eke out an existence in this dry area.
The town itself thrives on opal mining which began in the 1880's and opal 'pineapples' and shells can still be found on the roadsides.
A most unusual find was a an opalised dinosaur (plesiosaur), unearthed in 1976. For many years the dinosaur was on display in the town but has since moved to the Australian Museum in Sydney.
Gem seekers find the cooler seasons a good time to visit White Cliffs, where accommodation both underground and above ground is available. The local attractions listed below provide insight into the town's pioneering history.
Festivals: Gymkhana and Rodeo (May)
Image: Lizard, White Cliffs, Tourism New South Wales
Things to do:
Heritage Trail - take a self-guided tour around the town using map available at various locations. Includes historic features and fossicking
Heritage Buildings - St Mary's Anglican Church, Post Office (1900), old Police Station (1897), Public School (1900),
Bill Reilly's Oval - for cricketing fans. The surface is nothing but red dirt!
Pioneer Cemetery - dating from 1892
Opal Pioneer Federation Park
Solar Power Station - which first began in 1981. White Cliffs was the first town to use solar power to supplement power needs. (No onsite inspections)
Historic dugouts - people first began living underground as early as 1894
Jock's Place - underground home, museum and old mine, 9 to 5 daily
Wellington's Underground Art Gallery - by appointment for arts and crafts
Opal Showroom - for gems and opals
Attractions in surrounding area:
Mutawintji National Park - 90 km south-west, for guided tours and Aboriginal rock art-sites