Following the YELLOW CAR DOOR TOUR We came across the big Open cut mine on Lunatic Hill.
There are not many open cut mines in Lightning Ridge, as........
because of the scarcity of opal, it means it is not usually viable to mine by open-cut methods, which involve excavating millions of tonnes of earth.
Where open cutting does occur, the area has usually first been mined by underground methods, and here we saw that, and you can too if you look at the photos. The holes are where old underground mines were originally. I love the pretty colour!
The largest open cut opal mine ever worked in New South Wales is Lunatic Hill Open Cut, at the Three Mile field, Lightning Ridge, it is now preserved for a place in the History books.
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!
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
John's art hangs in some of the biggest board rooms of Australia and also my bedroom.
John Murray's art is unique - and, whilst it has been copied, nobody captures the essence of the bush meets people theme that John does! His Gallery holds original artwork for sale - including a huge almost mural like pic, which has been hanging waiting for the house to be built for it! - limited edition prints, framed and unframed prints, cards etc.
John's paintings frequently depict human and animal parallel situations and everyday activities and folly. His work has been described as photo-realism, and is loved for its uniqueness, the humour and whimsy, and there is something for everyone to identify with in his work.
John has been at The Ridge since 1983, and he opened the gallery in 1992. Absolutely unmissable if you visit The Ridge.
These baths are situated at the end of Pandora Street - and are open around the clock, with no charge for entry.
The water is at a constant 42C degrees, and there is a fairly regular pilgrimage of people to the baths, both for the sheer bliss of the water, and the more therapeutic benefits for ailments such as arthritis and rheumatic conditions. The warm, relaxing and therapeutic waters and general atmosphere of these pools is lovely. Water is available in permanent supply, and mineral waters bubble up from up to 900 metres below the surface.
The baths were an original favourite camping site for the pioneer miners - imagine how good these waters must have been for weary bones and muscles all those years ago! You can still see many opal miners relieving tired, aching muscles in the baths after a hard day's work.
Coopers Cottage, built in 1916, is the home of an early miner, named Bert Cooper who was one of Lightning Ridge's earliest residents.
It was open, and ADMISSION IS FREE, so we wandered in.
A little bit about it.......................
A Miner by the name of Bert Cooper was born in 1907, the year the town was surveyed. He was known as "Father " Cooper, this was because his wife called him that, not because he was a man of the cloth. A shearer by trade he went opal mining for pocket money.
He lived in Coopers cottage for approx 40 years.
Open from 11am to 5pm ....7 days a week.
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
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 PICK-UP 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!
Lightning ridge is full of bizarre buildings and people.
A good way to find them, is to follow a "Car door tour"
We did all of them, but I will start with the RED CAR DOOR TOUR
The tour took us to Amigo's Castle, a private home that was built single handedly of Ironstone. Amigo is Italian, and his home was inspired by Roman ruins near his birthplace in northern Italy.
The scaffolding he used, was 44 gallon drums arranged one above the other, and then the planks between them. There are trapdoors, tunnels and a dungeon in the Castle which is still being completed.
I think this is one of Lightning Ridges eccentric persons.
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
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.
John Murray is one of my favorites. I just love the way he paints Australian scenes, the humour he paints, his paintings put a smile on my face!
John Murray came to Lightning Ridge as a city artist, and to me, he has really embraced the Outback
At John Murray Art Gallery we saw vibrant paintings, full of colour, just like the Australian Outback is.
Inside, the gallery is full of large and small original paintings, reproductions, posters, cards and art souvenirs. Paintings are of everyday situations, human traits, landscapes & places that are a familiar part of life in the bush. He tends to paint the more arid regions of Australia.
They are so well done, no wonder he is one of Australia's leading out back artists.
All I can say is..........Pay this studio a visit, take your time and have a good look. If you want to buy originals you can, and you can also buy cheaper prints which he has signed. Cheaper again are greeting cards and fridge magnets, so there is something for every one.
I couldn't walk out without something, I wonder if you can?
OPEN..... Weekdays 9am - 5pm
Saturday 9am -2pm & Sunday 9am - 1pm
NO PHOTOS ALLOWED
On a cold day, what could be better that sitting in the warm/hot Artesian Bore Baths. These are so nice, I think probably good for ailments, my body just relaxed in the warm water.
They say the baths are the best remedy for soothing aches and pains and can help to alleviate arthritis.
The Great Artesian Basin is approximatley two million years old and this is where the water comes from. Natural pressure sends the water to the surface through an artesian bore and an even temperature of about 40deg is maintained.
They are open 24hours a day, all year round, so at night time, you could be sitting in the warm water enjoying the stars on a clear night.
Change rooms and Toilets are there, and best of all.......They are FREE
This the name of the company that we did a tour of Lightning Ridge with.
There are two companies, and they both go for similar times and see similar sights, there really isn't much different they can do.
On our tour, we did see a raw opal being cut and polished, but then we were left in the shop to look and hopefully buy. This happened four times on the tour, way too often we all agreed...........Just how much money do they think we have, .....this is what one lady said.
On the plus side, at least we were not pressured to buy.
The tour took us on three of the 'car door' drives.
It was disappointing that with our driver [Peter] we could not get out to take photos. We realized that different days there are different drivers/tour guides, some better than the others. We did not have the best, and on comparing notes with fellow travellers that did this tour, did not do everything advertised, such as the fossicking for opals.
The inside of the Bus was nothing fantastic.
Afternoon was included, help yourself to tea & coffee, and biscuits.
Make sure you have the money in cash to pay when the driver arrives to pick you up, as they do not have Eftpos or Credit cards.
They do have a Free courtesy pick up from you accommodation.
Cost in 2010 was $25
Times are ....9am - 12pm and 2pm - 5pm
I feel that it was a waste of time, we would have been better off saving our money.
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.