Seventy-five kilometres north of Walgett on the edge of the Outback, Lightning Ridge is at the hub of a series or ironstone ridges which extend to the west and north to the Queensland border. The ridges are riddled with gemstones and west of the town lie the opal fields of Grawin, Glengarry and Sheepyard.
While the local gem seam might not be as productive in terms of quantity as other Australian fields, The Ridge is famous for its gem quality, especially its black opal which is found in the unusual ‘nobbie’ form.
Black opal is set apart by the presence of carbon and iron oxide trace elements which produce a very dark stone, flecked with the traditional blue, green and red flashes.
There are fossicking areas where you can dig for your own fortune and a number of sites where you can tour underground mines and watch masters cutting opals or making pottery from the local opal clay.
After a day 'at the face' you can freshen up in the Bore Baths which are continuously fed from an artesian basin 900m below the surface.
Golf is also a rare experience at Lightning Ridge where the course has been laid out on an old opal field and you are obliged to putt on sand greens.
Great Goat Race (Easter), Opal Open Pistol Shoot (June), Opal and Gem Festival (July).