Lightning Ridge has a worldwide reputation for being fascinating, friendly and a whole lot of fun. A majority of the unusually high proportion of residents first visited as holidaymakers – then either never left, or couldn't stay away. It's the lifestyle that makes them stay and some locals claim it's the weather as well. Winter is perfect at the Ridge where you can escape the cold to fine, warm days with an average temperature of 18 degrees.
There are visual experiences that can't be had anywhere else; the opal fields, the varied and ingenious miners' camps, fabulous arid-adapted plants and animals, spectacular skies and an exciting range of quality attractions, some with a whimsical, even eccentric local flavour.
Getting to Lightning Ridge is easy from any of the east coast capitals and is located at the start of the Darling River Run, one of Australia's most iconic touring routes.
Lightning Ridge is located in the northern NSW about 530km (as the crow flies) west of the east coasts' Coffs Harbour and is well-positioned for travellers, especially RVers, as it is easily accessible via the major north-south and east-west routes of eastern Australia.
The 'Ridge' is also to the northeast of the iconic Darling River and the Darling River Run; one of Australia's great touring adventures along one of our most iconic rivers.
Travelling through this vast land, one often discovers places that can envelope the soul with tangible elements; a beautiful river, majestic native forests, indigenous cultural regions, or unspoilt pristine beaches.
Every now and again though, one can come across a place where the same feeling is experienced without any tangible elements to account for that feeling. Lightning Ridge, home of the elusive Black Opal, is one of those places.
Such is the allure of 'The Ridge' that many who initially planned to only stay a day or so as part of a larger travel experience, end up staying a lifetime without being able to pinpoint the exact reason.
At The 'Ridge', one can experience underground sculptures, bottle-houses, antique lamps, castles, astronomy monuments, unique gardens, hills named 'Lunatic', 'Pig' and Bald', a pub crawl to 'The Pub in the Scrub', 'The Glengarry Hilton' and 'Sheepyard Flat', and even tour underground mines. And how do you find all these things? Look out for a colored Car Door.
Make sense? ...probably not, but it will when you visit 'The Ridge!
Opal, just the name conjures up images of the unique, colourful precious gem that is full of mystery that has through the ages been integral to many civilisations; the Opal has a strong link to Roman history and closer to home it has been referenced many times in the Dreamtime of Indigenous Australia.
While Opal is found in many parts of the world, Australia produces around 90% of the world’s Opal and lightning Ridge is home to the very special and unique darker variety known as the Black Opal.
Speak to any fellow traveller on 'things not to miss' in the outback and chances are they will mention one of the great festivals that Lightning Ridge hosts every year.
Probably the most famous, and one that draws travellers from all over Australia, is the Easter Festival with its unique activities and competitions. Another for the diary is the Opal Festival when the town gets to showcase all things black opal. The art lover is also well catered for with the Artober art festival.
A visitor to Lightning Ridge often comments that whether it is their 1st time or their 100th time to the Ridge, they are always treated as if they were locals. It is such a welcoming place to visit and that endearing hospitality extends to accommodation, restaurants, or local shops. Staying 5-star or camping under a million stars makes little difference to the locals as the main thing they worry about is if you are enjoying your stay.