Lightning Ridge, a town we love

Coloured car doors lead the way around the extraordinary mining outpost of Lightning Ridge, in northern NSW accessible from the Castlereagh Highway.  Here, inspired by local characters, find your own beat among gems, art, opalised dinosaur relics and natural springs. 



More than 100 million years’ ago, silicon-rich water scribed Australia’s prehistoric past beneath the outback town of Lightning Ridge. 

The rare opal dinosaur relics—gem fossils—have just started to surface in the past 40 years. Working loosely with prospectors, palaeontologists piece together the remains. And you can admire some of these remarkable specimens at the Australian Opal Centre in town. 

Then, sip hot cocoa rugged up by an open fire while taking in SPARK, an opal-centric outdoor cinematic experience. It’s hosted three nights a week at the Black Opal Shed between April and September. Pic: Tourism NSW.

People enjoying the SPARK open air cinema under the night sky at the Australian Opal Centre, Lightning Ridge.


Black opal really runs Lightning Ridge; miners haunted by its beauty seek their fortune beneath the dusty fields. And you can try your own luck at the Big Opal Centre, one of the first mine sites in Lightning Ridge available for visitors. Delve underground for the Big Opal Underground Mine Tour and explore the workings of a live opal mining site in 22°C comfort. Learn the ins and outs to mining, cutting, polishing and valuation. 


Steam billowing from the naturally-heated springs at the Artesian Bore Baths beckons the weary miner after a long day. And within its restorative 41.5°C waters, settle in to watch a brilliant starlit outback sky emerge as a vibrant sunset slips away. Open seven days a week, 22 hours’ a day, closed only for public cleaning. Pic Tourism NSW.

Woman enjoying a relaxing day in a naturally heated thermal pool at the Artesian Bore Baths, Lightning Ridge.


In town stands Amigos Castle, two-storeys high and wide enough to tickle the peripheral vision. Each stone of this astonishing estate was lovingly hand placed by Italian immigrant Vittorio ‘Amigo’ Stefanato with the help of 44 gallon drums and wooden planks. Learn his fascinating story of persistence and admire the works by castle host and local artist Anita.

It’s just $5 to wander the vast grounds. Closed Wednesdays and Sundays, so plan ahead as it will impress.

lightning ridge amigos castle


Inspect astonishing sculptures of Adam, Atlas, Nostradamus and more carved within this replica Egyptian tomb at the Chambers of the Black Hand. Humorous hieroglyphics reflect Ron’s quirk outlook typical to Lightning Ridge locals. 



Every July, locals celebrate all things opal at the Lightning Ridge Opal Festival, over four days. Join them for the Opal Queen Ball, free entertainment and events, then browse gemstones, artworks and lapidary supplies at more than 150 stores. ‘