The BLUE CAR DOOR TOUR took us to the Walk in Mine.
We visited here with the Tour company. I was a little disappointed with this mine, this was because we had been down another one 1st, one that I enjoyed.
The Walk In Mine was originally mined during the early 1960's. Unfortunately, not a lot of good opal was found at the Walk In Mine so it was opened for visitors to see what the underground was like.
The Walk In Mine sits on the Ridge of the Bald Hill Opal Field.
We had complimentary tea and coffee here.
There is an Opal shop with Opal Jewellery for sale.
Guided Tours Start at 9.30am and 1.30 pm
Opening Hours: 9am - 5pm seven days
Located next to the Vistor Information centre in Lightning Ridge, is a FREE FOSSICKING AREA
It pays to remember, that you are not allowed to just go into anybodys mullok heaps, even though they look deserted, they are a Miners claim. Miners can be very angry people, and they do not like people who are "ratters", they are people that "Rat"..."Rob" their claims.
This FREE AREA is so visitors can have a bit of fun.
Dumped Mullock is fairly regularly dumped in an area here. You can go your hardest trying to find Opal here.
Our tour guide told us, that since December 2009, in 6months, over $3000 worth of Opal has been found here, I even found a very small piece myself.
I didn't have the right tools, had to scratch around using my hands and shoes, so if you are thinking of doing this, bring a pick and a water spray, this way you can spray the rock to see if you have Opal. I also believe, you can hire the necessary equipment from the Info Centre.
It is hard work as it had formed a very hard surface.
For a bit of fun, you can stick your head through a "standing Miner & his Wife" that has been painted by John Murray.
Part 2 of the Tour, and this was the amazing part.
I guess you could call it an underground Art Gallery.
The Owner ...Ron Canlin spent 10 years chiselling the sandstone walls into more than 400 works of art.
Canlin was an opal miner before deciding he'd turn his hand to stone carving, when he wasn't digging for his fortune. He has had no Art lessons, which is the incredible part. All the work is carved in the sandstone with a butter knife & spoon.
The first level is 11 metres underground with images carved and painted in the sandstone walls and pillars.
There is something for everyone, including the children. .....
See the Last Supper, a nine foot Archangel Gabriel, Gollum and other characters from Lord of the Rings, Australian flora and fauna, Nostradamus, Adam, Jack Sparrow, Shrek, Puss in Boots and Donkey, Terracotta Soldiers from China, a Samurai warrior and more.
The gallery has a huge Buddha, its very own Egyptian Chambers including a sarcophagus and Nephretiti.
There is he Jungle Room has lions, tigers, chimpanzees and elephant plus the cute little meerkats.
For the children, there are the heros like, Superman, Shrek and the Simpsons, and a lot more.
He did the work alone, then eventually decided to open it up for the public.
We walked around several times, each time noticing a different sculpture, finishing off with a FREE Tea & Coffee.
Opals are for sale, at what I thought was pretty good prices.
You can pay by credit card and cash on the tour.
Details are on the previous tip for opening hours, etc.
This is a mind - boggling display of under ground art, just simply amazing, one not to be missed.
A MUST SEE!
COST FOR THE FULL TOUR IN 2010.....$25
I told you Lightning Ridge was a "quirky town" in the Outback of Australia, but little did I expect to find was an Olympic Swimming Pool!
Yes, you read right! An Olympic Swimming Pool was built for Olympic swimmers from other countries to do their training in for the Olympics.
Want to build a $30m indoor Olympic-standard diving centre and 25 metre pool for just $1m?
Well, Lightning Ridge did it!
Lightning Ridge is very community spirited, so people pitched in with free labour & Materials to build the centre for the lowest cost possible.
This world-class structure, has 3m, 5m and 10m Diving platforms, and a eight lane 50 metre by 21 metre Pool was built to Olympic specifications.
The funny thing, is the locals don't use it much, they prefer the Artesian Baths!
Season starts last week in September and finishes on Easter Tuesday.
OPEN...... 11am TO 7pm Monday to Friday.
11am TO 7pm Weekends and Holidays
Sorry, No photos, was closed at the time we were there.
In Summer, when Lightning Ridge hits some high temperatures, then there are several places you can go to cool off.
If you have children, then the Water Theme park looked pretty amazing, children would just love it!
These are some of the Water features in the complex...............
A wading pool with a swan slide, turtle slide, frog slide, a buccaneer island with 3 slides and 2 water spraying cannons and 4 water curtain mushrooms.
A Butterflyslide and a lily pad trail. Free floating Crocodiles.
A spiral water slide and a nautical shell spiral slide entering into a 1.1 meter pool.
A 25 meter wave pool, and a wading pool with an octopus where on each of the arms are swings (three different kinds to accommodate children of all ages).
An Outdoor Beach Volleyball court.
really it is "Paradise for children!"
ADMISSION IN 2010....Monday to Friday $3.50 per person
Weekends, Public Holidays & School Holidays ....$5.50 per person
OPEN....From Monday To Friday 3pm to 7pm
Weekends, Public Holidays & School Holidays 11am to 7pm
Another unusual building in this town, is the Bottle house, it looked to be made out of hundreds of bottles. People around here sure know how to recycle!
Originally a miner's camp it now houses a collection of bottles, mining artifacts, rocks & minerals & More.
Opening Hours: 9am - 5pm 7 days
ADMISSION IN 2010...... $5 adults, Children free
What a funny name for a tour..............Well, name aside..........
THIS WAS ONE EXCELLENT TOUR!
The tour is in two parts, you can do either a part of a full tour, all the full tour.
We chose the full tour.
We entered the Mine down a steep stair-case, what goes down, must come up [ a steep climb up at the end of the tour] but do not worry, they have a one man lift if needed.
We arrived in a large room where there were showcases of Opals for sale. This is where we paid for our tour.
We then headed with our guide, through more tunnels, with him explaining all about mining and chasing the elusive Black Opal. It was very interesting.
Bookings are essential.
FREE PICKUP FROM ACCOMMODATION
Tour time from November to March are 10.30am full tour and 3pm full tour
March to October 31st - are 10.30am full tour - 1.30pm carvings only and 3pm full tour
Tour Cost is $25.00 per adult - students $10.00 each for the first 2 and under 6 Free of charge.
Tour takes approx 2 hours in a comfortable 16 - 18 degree temperature all year round.
Wear closed in flat shoes and a light jumper, they give you a Hard Hat to wear.
Most importantly............REMEMBER YOUR CAMERA!
The other section of the Gem gardens is more paths, shrubs and lawns.
You wouldn't know there is a Pump Station here, as it has been made into a mini-miners cottage.
In the centre is a fountain that has 8 panels of different murals made of potch, stone and colour representing scenes of Lightning Ridge.
The Botanic Gardens at Lightning Ridge are a little different. This is because, one whole area is dedicated to Shrubs/Tree/Flowers that grow in the Outback.
These are the ones that can help you to survive if you are lost in the bush, or the ones that the Aboriginal's use for food. You can actually survive by eating their fruits, roots, flowers or other parts.
At the start, I took the time to read the information board, then followed the winding path through the gardens. By each Shrub, there was more information.
I found it very interesting, especially as I have some of the edible plants growing in my home garden, and didn't know I could eat them!
If you come to Lightning Ridge, then you really must leave the main town area, and get out to where the Miners and their Camps/Humpys/Homes are.
This is where the real Lightning ridge is, and I am sure you will be amazed at what the Miner's live in, especially if you have never been to a Mining area before.
Old Buses, Old Caravans, Lean to sheds, Quirky homes built with bottles & cans, all set amongst a dry landscape full of Mullock hips, it certainly is a very different!
The Red Car door tour, wound us around many mullock heaps, and miner's humpys.
The land is barren and harsh, there are Trees, but not a lot. We didn't see people around, I guess they are all working underground.
Opal was first discovered at Lightning Ridge in the 1880s, and the first recorded mine shaft was sunk in 1901.
For years, mines were dug by hand using picks and shovels, extremely hard work in the harsh climate where extreme heat, lack of water, and lack of facilities were experienced. The miners dug square-sided shafts, just big enough for a miner to crawl through, and dirt was hauled to the surface in buckets made of hide, tied to ropes.
No major advances until the 1960s, when an automatic hoist to carry dirt to the surface was invented. In that decade, artesian water became available to wash the opal dirt, making separation of opal from the dirt more efficient.
It isn't easy to find opal. A miner may work for weeks, months or years without finding enough gem opal even to cover expenses. So deciding where to mine is one of the most important decisions an opal miner can make.
At Lightning Ridge each opal mining claim measures a maximum of 50 metres by 50 metres. Each person may hold a maximum of two mineral claims at any one time. There are more than 4,500 mineral claims at Lightning Ridge.
A steel picket must be placed and protrude at least one metre out of the ground. Trenches then must be dug from each corner post along the direction of the claim boundaries.
Be careful where you walk and drive, mines seem to pop up anywhere!
One sight, was quite a big Kangaroo on a Miners huge mullock pile, I wondered why he was there when there was nothing to eat!
The tour takes about 20mins to drive, longer when we stopped and got out and had a look.
A trip to Lightning Ridge would not be complete without having a look in some Opal Shops.
There are plenty to choose from. I wasn't looking to buy Opal, so we only went into a couple of shops. Probably the one that stands out the most, and I should think it would be the largest too, is the Opal cave.
Prices vary, Cheap for the chips that have been set into ear-rings, to the many thousand $ pieces for sale.
Stunning jewellery, Stunning prices too!
It is set out beautifully inside, and is worth a browse. At none of the shops are you hassled to buy.
I thought THE GREEN CAR DOOR TOUR was the least interesting of all the car door tours.
It can only be done when the road is dry "dry weather track only," even then, the road was in bad condition.
We passed plenty of Miner's camps, and there are Buddha & wild Orange Trees on the roadsides.
Right at the end of the road, is NETTLETON'S FIRST SHAFT.
Located here, is a plaque with information and the original shaft. The sinking of the first shaft at Lightning Ridge is believed to be by Jack Murray in 1901, while the sale of the first parcel of opal from the field was made by Charlie Nettleton in 1903.
This is a high point of land, with far reaching views of the surrounding landscape.
Have you seen the film "The Goddess of 1967," or know something about it, well, I know neither!
I have found out some information though..........
It is a 2000 Australian film about a rich young Japanese man who travels to Australia with the intention of buying a Citroeon Car that he has found for sale on the net. Once there things, do not quite go to plan ... and he ends up on a road journey with a blind girl (Rose Byrne).
The Church was built specifically for this film, and made to look old, which it certainly does. Some of the film, was filmed in and around Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, Australia.
The film did win several awards, including best actress for Rose Byrne at the 2000 Venice Film Festival and best director at the Chicago Film Festival.
We came across the Church at the 3.2km mark of the YELLOW CAR DOOR TOUR
This abandoned miner's hut in the main street is opposite Coopers Cottage.
The hut was built in 1932 by Albert Spicer when he struck opal.
Now, it is open for us to have a look through, and to browse the historical displays & handicrafts for sale. The bark dividing walls, dirt floors and kerosene tin chimney, wood stove, are typical of early Lightning Ridge architecture.
In the backyard, is the relocated Cottage Hospital that was built in 1914, and is the only type of this style of architecture in the town, ............must have been pretty smart amongst the bark and tin huts!
Cost: Donations accepted
Opening Hours: open 3 days a week.
It can be opened on a different day if you phone....... 0419 639 120