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The Pom Queen

Lightning Ridge - Could you live here....

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... It seems that many people do from what me and the youngest saw on our recent visit. Where else could you get a house and land for $25,000 with the chance of becoming a millionaire if you should strike it lucky.








At the 2016 census there was a population of just over 2000. However, they have a fluctuating number due to the coming and going of miners, some of which have earned themselves the name of “part time miners”.

The population is made up of around 23% aboriginal people and 31% being born overseas.

Mining claims are often put up for sale,  for the ongoing fees involved or to take on a new mining clim you can take a look at the NSW Government site https://www.resourcesandgeoscience.nsw.gov.au/miners-and-explorers/applications-and-approvals/opal-mining/mining_act_fees


Since the year 2000 health and safety have really clamped down on the area and have killed the tourism industry. A majority of areas are now out of bounds and miners have to do numerous courses to be able to mine https://www.resourcesandgeoscience.nsw.gov.au/miners-and-explorers/safety-and-health/events/safetyevents

I can understand after witnessing the dangerous mind shafts left uncovered everywhere.





Lightning Ridge is spread out and includes numerous opal fields some of which are over an hour plus out of town. 


As we were there for the young one to go “noodling” (no this isn’t eating a Chinese with chopsticks but a name for looking through mounds of dirt dumped by the miners trucks in the rare instance they missed one) we headed over to Grawin an hour out of town, although you have to allow time for crazy Roos, sheep that run at you from nowhere, wild goats and emus galore.



Grawin holds fame to the “Club in the Scrub” I can’t remember how we ended up inside now, all I can remember is being sent over from the towns only shop. 


‘The pub itself had a rustic charm and greeted us with a roaring log fire. At the bar were two men (tourists) who had also been directed from the shop as somewhere they could find opal. I don’t think they realised that the club itself had a shop selling the rare gems as they purchased two beers and struck up a very awkward conversation with a resident miner which ended in the question “Do you want to see my opals” the two guys then drove off in the back of the miners car. I hope they found their perfect stone and didn’t end up at the bottom of a mine shaft. I have to admit the scene did remind me of Wolf Creek.


After the young one had finished his drink we headed off to the Mullock heaps. We had been warned that there were “No Entry” and “Warning” signs by the owner at the pub, but were told to ignore these as the health and safety brigade had insisted they be erected after fossickers/noodlers were jumping in the dump trucks before they had finished unloading.


We were lucky to witness one of the trucks unload and the local aboriginals immediately ran over and started searching for a needle in a haystack. The Mullock heaps are huge (around 2 double decker buses high in places) so why they needed to run to the truck I’ve no idea.  


As I was sat in the car I was doing a little ear wigging and it seems they make around $500 a week noodling, which isn’t bad when you consider they are getting their benefits as well.  One guy said the costs to run his house and generator along with mining equipment was $200 a week.


A little bit of gossip I overheard was the mention that Joe’s daughter had found a beaut 2 weeks ago valued at $750,000, however, Aunt Mary was running off her mouth telling everyone who would listen. This group were not happy about Aunt Mary as she would get the tourists flocking to the site. You would think the town would want tourists, but to the small group that were there the day we visited it was their bread and butter and they didn’t want to share with the likes of us.


I will do a Part 2 of our stay in Lightning Ridge later which will include more of the tourist attractions, where to stay and places to eat.




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If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

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Stayed there for about 3 weeks, in 1972. Bloke in the next caravan dug up a $5,000 opal about the size of a golfball. One beaut young man has a small seam of opal in matrix that came from the same mine that produced the $5,000 stone...I found an opal that was slightly crazed from an old miner's fireplace. It was blue on green and I sold it for $800, that was about the size of a squashball. The old miners only wanted red on black...

Cheers, Bobj.

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Visited a couple of years ago, Loved the trip a fascinating place to visit. We were on a trip with our Probus and a couple travelling with us used to deal in opals so we all enjoyed their knowledge My lovely husband bought me a opal that he had noticed and bought it on their advice. 

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I hadn’t realise how they tunnel for opals, with so many miners together in one area you would think they would end up digging in to another tunnel network.

We heard that most tunnels are 30 - 40ft down some as far as 80ft and it costs them to drill around $30 per foot. They need two drilled one to provide ventilation.

I think if you were retired then it could be a good hobby to have but I wouldn’t be giving up my day job.




If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

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