35 Best Things To Do In Lightning Ridge In (2023)
This is a list of 35 things we have done in Lightning Ridge and absolutely loved. We’ve been to Lightning Ridge half a dozen times now and we’ve done a lot of fun things there. It really is an amazing place to visit.
1. Artesian Bore Baths
You really haven’t been to Lightning Ridge if you haven’t had a relaxing soak in the artesian bore baths. They’re completely free to visit and open 24/7. There’s a little kids pool and then there’s the massive adults pool. There are a series of metal steps/seats around the circumference of the baths for you to sit on. If you ever get the chance to soak in the bore baths while a lightning storm rolls in (it is Lightning Ridge after all!) then we highly recommend giving it a crack.
The baths can get fairly hot so our preferred method is to sit on the top step then slowly work your way down the steps until you are immersed up to your neck and when that gets a bit warm scoot up a few steps until you cool down a bit then slide back down again. You can chuck in a swim now and then, there’s plenty of room. You can do it for hours, it is incredibly relaxing. Don’t forget to take a bottle of water with you as you can get a bit dehydrated after an hour or so.
2. Yellow Car Door Tour
Of the five car door tours in Lightning Ridge I think the yellow car door tour would be my favourite. We’ve driven it three times and each time have seen something we previously missed. Just a few of the highlights are listed below. It commences on Three Mile Road and takes about 45 minutes to complete. You can get a fairly detailed map for $1 from the Lightning Ridge tourist information centre.
- Miners Cottages – Old miners cottages made from stone, corrugated iron, bricks and just about everything else you could imagine
- Abandoned Mine Shafts – They’re everywhere and very cool to look at but mind your step.
- Lunatic Lookout – Site of the worlds largest black opal nobby ever found called Halleys Comet. Plenty of old air vents and other bits of mining history can be viewed.
- Corrugated Iron Church – A corrugated iron church created for the movie The Goddess of 1967.
- Stanley The Emu – Turn left at the Castlereagh Highway and you’ll find Stanley the Emu constructed out of recycled materials including a Volkswagen Beetle.
- Old Chum’s Track – A walk that goes through the opal fields to Nettleton the second settlement on the Lightning Ridge diggings.
- Graveyard Of Rusty Treasures – An huge assortment of old abandoned trucks and cars.
3. Blue Car Door Tour
The blue car door tour at Lightning Ridge starts in Gem Street and takes about 10 minutes to complete. It takes you past some of the Ridges opal fields around town. Just a few of the highlights are listed below. You can get a fairly detailed map for $1 from the Lightning Ridge tourist information centre.
- Walk In Mine Tour – venture underground where dreams are made or broken, explore their onsite opal field, noodle in the fossicking area or just relax and enjoy the scenery and birdlife with a complimentary cup of tea or coffee.
- Cactus Gardens – Started in 1966, and now encompassing two passionate generations, Bevan’s host one of the largest cactus nurseries in the southern hemisphere with approximately 2,500 young and aged varieties. Grown from seeds collected from around the world, many plants are now well over 100 years old, with the oldest being nearly 150.
4. Green Car Door Tour
The green car door tour at Lightning Ridge starts on Bill O’Brien Way and takes about 30 minutes to complete. It’s recommended for dry weather only. It takes you past some opal mine fields, be careful if wandering around on foot as most old mines are fenced or covered but there are still a few dotted about that aren’t. Just a few of the highlights are listed below. You can get a fairly detailed map for $1 from the Lightning Ridge tourist information centre.
- Nettletons First Shaft Lookout – there’s a monument with plenty of information.
- Beer Can House – It’s a quirky house made from beer cans, there’s a guest book you can sign in the fridge inside.
5. Red Car Door Tour
The red car door tour at Lightning Ridge starts on Ernie Sherman Way and takes about 20 minutes to complete. It takes you through many bits of the old town. Just a few of the highlights are listed below. You can get a fairly detailed map for $1 from the Lightning Ridge tourist information centre.
- Stone & Bottle House – An interesting house probably not built by LJ Hooker!
- Sim’s Hill – Highest point in the district even though it’s not really all that high.
- Kfc Drive Thru – Coming soon…
- Astronomers Monument – A home built observatory because that’s the kind of thing you do in Lightning Ridge.
- Amigos Castle – Possibly the quirkiest place in Lightning Ridge. A massive castle made out of rock and all done by one mad bloke. And the no trespassing and keep out signs out the front have to be seen to be believed.
- Bottle House – they build houses out of all kinds of stuff at the Ridge, this one is made out of bottles and is a little bit famous.
6. Get Your Photo Taken At The Gateway
It’s pretty much obligatory when you get to town to line your vehicle up including whatever you are towing in front of the big sign and “Agi”. In case you were wondering an Agi is the rear-end of an old cement mixer and is used to wash opal dirt. You see them everywhere in Lightning Ridge.
7. Stanley The Emu Sculpture
Lightning Ridge resident artist John Murray had a dream of creating a giant emu perched over the highway outside Lightning Ridge. So in true Ridge style they made it come true. Stanley was unveiled to the world in 2013. stanley the emu is 18 metres tall and constructed using more than a tonne of scrap metal. Three Volkswagen Beetle bodies and a couple of satellite dishes feature amongst a myriad of other mad stuff. A time capsule is inserted into the body of the structure to be opened in 50 years.
8. Pubs In The Scrub
Our absolute favourite thing to do in Lightning Ridge actually isn’t in Lightning Ridge it’s in Grawin. Grawin is a separate opal mining community about 65km south-west of Lightning Ridge with a small full time population of who knows how many – it’s not a lot! Grawin was established in 1908 after opal was found at Hammonds Hill however it wasn’t until the 1970’s that it became a field in its own right. The “pubs” are registered clubs. They were built around the time the opal rush was happening. The pubs are all still actively being run. You will always find a few locals and some of them are absolute characters. The pubs are all accessed via an unsealed road and it can be quite rough so a 4×4 is recommended.
9. The Sheepyard Inn
The Sheepyard Inn is one of the three pubs in the scrub at Grawin opal fields. It is a truly unique bush Pub. Ice cold beer, great cooked meals and walls of great Pubobilia. What more could you want? We really enjoyed the signs around the pub and had many laughs reading them. We’ve been there three or four times now and will happily go there again. As a side interest next door to the pub they have an old railway carriage and sitting outside of it an awesome collection of camp ovens and other old camp cookware.
10. Glengarry Hilton
The Glengarry Hilton is our favourite of the three pubs in the scrub to have lunch at – they do a really awesome hamburger. There’s plenty of seating outside as well as some undercover area. They can get pretty busy during holiday periods.
11. Grawin Club In The Scrub
They have a crazy golf course with sand greens, a mad looking sculpture greets you at the door and the club itself is built out of logs. Inside they have cold beer and an awesome sense of humour. What the hell is not to like about this place?
12. Amigo’s Castle
Let me be up front here. I like mad bastards, and the madder the better. The bloke that built this place is absolute top of the tree when it comes to crazytown inhabitants. The story goes that Vittorio Stefanato known around the Ridge as “Amigo” got sick of opal mining so started building his castle from ironstone boulders he collected in the area. Amigo found himself in a bit of legal hot water as it turns out Amigo was building it illegally on his mining claim. In true mad bastard style Amigo threatened to bulldoze the whole bloody lot. It was then heritage listed so it could be secured as a tourist attraction. Visitors are welcome for a small entrance fee. Don’t be too worried about the signs out the front as they probably aren’t true but then again with a bloke mad enough to build something like this can you be 100% sure? In the grounds beside the castle as you would anticipate there’s a good deal of weird stuff. The bike with the barrow wheel with “Winner of Tour The France 1896” is my favourite.
13. The Corrugated Iron Church
The corrugated iron church was built as a set for the movie “The Goddess of 1967” filmed in 2000. It was never used as a functioning church. It makes a fantastic photo opportunity with it’s rusty corrugated iron walls and roof set against a big sky background. The corrugated iron church at Lightning Ridge features on the Yellow Car door tour.
14. Bevans Cactus Nursery
Started in 1966, and now encompassing two passionate generations. Bevan’s host one of the largest cactus nurseries in the southern hemisphere with approximately 2,500 young and aged varieties. Grown from seeds collected from around the world, many plants are now well over 100 years old, with the oldest being nearly 150. We spent nearly an hour wandering through the gardens and looking at all the different species. I would like to go back and have another look.
15. Big Opal Underground Mine Tour
A very interesting look at opal mining underground. There is a spiral staircase with a LOT of stairs to climb down. It’s pretty cool to follow some of the runs where they have followed an opal seam only to have it peter out and end. I wonder at what point to they give up and start a drive in a different direction after investing so much work? The bloke that runs the place is great and really good to talk to.
16. Bottle House
You will find the Bottle House in Opal Street Lightning Ridge. It’s probably Lightning Ridges earliest tourist attraction. Like most other things in Lightning Ridge the Bottle House was originally a miner’s claim. The Bottle House is made out of beer bottles. As the lady at the bottle house told us they were sourced from a pub in Hebel across the Queensland border not far north of Lightning Ridge. 5,800 bottles were used in it’s construction. The Bottle House used to be the home of Arthur Germaine and his wife. It is now a museum containing all sorts of old homewares and paraphenalia, a gem and rock collection and of course a bottle collection!
Amanda and I love ghost towns, we’ve visited many of them and are always on the lookout for more. Angledool isn’t the best one we’ve been to but is’s still cool and well worth a look. When Angledool was founded in the late 1800’s, it was privately owned. Before moving to Lightning Ridge a Police Station operated there from 1882 to 1961. 62 Chinese lived in the area and were responsible for ringbarking trees, building weirs, and supplying the town with fresh fruit and veggies. A post office, two stores, two churches, two pubs and a Race Course once existed in Angledool. The Town Hall Picture Theatre still stands today as one of the last intact buildings in town. It was built in 1903.
From Lightning Ridge it’s easy to get to Angledool. Angledool is only 50km via the Castlereagh Highway. Another way to get there (and more fun) is via Angledool Rd and Burranbaa Rd, a dry weather only dirt road. Follow the road past the Artesian Bore Baths and keep going until you come to a t-intersection where you’ll turn left.
18. Chambers Of The Black Hand
Not 100% sure what to say about this one to be honest. The bloke who created all of the sculptures has spent a long time making them and he has got better as he he has gone along but they still look pretty ordinary. I reckon I could do similar and I’m no artist. 10 out of 10 for having a crack and everything but there’s no artistic talent involved. He does have a good sense of humour on display. Overall we liked it, but not from an artistic aspect. We highly recommend going and having a look as what he’s created out of nothing is impressive.
19. Coopers Cottage
Coopers Cottage in the middle of Lightning Ridge is a typical home of an early opal miner. Constructed out of whatever they could get their hands on. The inside is just as quirky and innovative as the outside. Built in 1916 this is one of the oldest houses in Lightning Ridge. Whenever we visit Lightning Ridge we always take a photo of one or both of us outside Coopers Cottage.
20. Historical Society & Heritage Cottage
Lightning Ridge Heritage Cottage Museum displays an authentic mining hut from 1932. There are lots of memorabilia and select crafts available, along with historical booklets. In its backyard is a refurbished and relocated 1915 nurse’s cottage, which pays homage to all bush nurses. Nurse Lucy’s illuminated tableau in the front windows attracts daily attention, and with displays that extend onto a wide verandah, this is a place of reflection. Its spacious patio has comfortable seating, and its garden setting is adorned by mining icons. Off the main street, this is a quiet place for conversation or lunch.
21. Walk In Mine Tour
This was one of the first attractions we visited in Lightning Ridge years ago and since then we have gone back a second time when travelling friends. It’s also probably the easiest underground mine we have visited in terms of steps and head clearance and that kind of thing, and we’ve visited a heap of tourist mines too. Venture underground where dreams are made or broken, explore their onsite opal field, noodle in the fossicking area or just relax and enjoy the scenery and birdlife with a complimentary cup of tea or coffee.
22. Brunos Pizza Italian Restaurant
Lighting Ridge’s Main Street is home to Bruno’s Italian Restaurant. Italian food is the specialty at Bruno’s. Bruno’s offers a wide selection of Italian cuisine, including wood fire pizza, coffee, fresh baked bread, and desserts. We’ve been to Brunos Italian Restaurant in Lightning quite a few times and really recommend it.
23. Lightning Ridge Bowling Club
Located right in the middle of town the Lighting Ridge Bowling Club has a menu and meal to suit every taste and budget. Three dining options make it possible to eat here all day long. We’ve eaten at the bistro maybe a dozen times over the years and it’s always quick, cheap and tasty. While at the bowlo get yourself one of the bowling shirts with artwork by John Murray printed on it. We have bought a few as gifts over the years and everyone loves them.
24. Opal Caravan Park
We always stay at the Opal Caravan Park whenever we visit Lightning Ridge. The park is huge with a variety of different camp sites, powered, unpowered, ensuite and that kind of thing. The shower blocks are the BEST we have ever used. I mean the best. There’s a swimming pool and often during peak season they will have entertainment of an evening. It’s located just across the road from the artesian bore baths. A cool feature is that the caravan park is it’s based on compacted crushed granite, if you need to put tent pegs in ask in the office and they’ll lend you a hammer drill with a long masonry bit because you won’t get your pegs in otherwise!
25. John Murray Art Gallery
I bet you recognise John Murrays work as soon as you see it in the gallery even if you never knew who created it or have not heard of John Murray before. It’s iconic. It’s completely Australian. It’s awesome. The John Murray Art Gallery is full of the vibrant paintings that have made John Murray one of Australia’s most renowned outback artists. Visitors are welcome to the gallery; it houses small and large original paintings in addition to reproductions, posters, cards and souvenirs. In addition to taking in the artwork in the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, visitors can watch the DVD in the gallery to learn more about the artist’s inspiration.
26. Sneak Up To Hebel
We love Hebel and it’s not far from Lightning Ridge just across the QLD border 70km north via the Castlereagh Highway. Hebel is a small town full of eccentricities and intriguing tales of the Ned Kelly Gang, Cobb & Co and old-time dance halls, seems to have turned back the hands of time. As a former dance hall built in 1897, Hebel General Store has kept much of its former features including its original dance floor. Hebel Hotel is the town’s traditional country pub and is decorated with a selection of John Murray’s colourful artwork. Also in the interior, reclaimed bush finds are used to create most of the furniture. There’s no better place to enjoy a cold beer with the locals than at this bar. Embrace the history of Hebel on a walk around the Historical Circle, a public art piece with ten large timber posts showcasing its history.
27. Cooke Brothers Yard From Outback Opal Hunters
We’ve been watching Outback Opal Hunters on TV since the series began. Last time we were in Lightning Ridge Amanda and a friend of ours spotted Sam from the Cooke Brothers team off Outback Opal Hunters working behind the bar at the Lightning Ridge Bowling Club. They hit young Sam up for a photo and it turns out he is a really nice young fella and he had a bit of a chat with them and they got a photo. While talking with Sam he pointed out Peter Cooke from the show who was lining up for his dinner at the bistro and sam said they should go and have a chat with Peter so they did. It turns out that Peter Cooke is also an awesomely top bloke and he told the ladies to go and have a look at their workshop yard located in Shincracker Street Lightning Ridge as it has a few interesting things sitting out the front. I’m glad we went and had a look as there are some fantastic sculptures out front made from all sorts of old engineering and mining materials. Go and have a look it’s worth it!
28. Mel And Susie Bush Poets
We’ve been lucky enough to see Mel and Susie On Tour perform at the Opal Caravan Park in Lightning Ridge where they do evening shows during peak season most evening. They are both champion aussies, very funny and just really nice people. Susie and Mel are award-winning entertainers and Australian bush poets.
29. Lightning Ridge Visitor Information Centre
You can find maps of the town and region, brochures, and souvenirs at the Lightning Ridge Visitor Information Centre for the benefit of tourist and traveler alike. Upon request, the friendly staff will assist you with local and regional attractions, upcoming events, accommodation, road conditions, and other services. Guests at the Opals Discovery Centre are welcome to fossick for Opals in their free fossicking pile, take a stroll through the gardens and children’s play area, and use the free barbecues.
30. Black Opal Tours
We have been on a tour with Black Opal Tours and found it to be extremely informative. It’s a great way to find out about opal mining and processing plus you get access to a couple of sites that you otherwise wouldn’t. The old mining camp of Fred Bodel was a real eye opener. Checking out the largest opal agitator ever made was pretty cool.
31. Beer Can House
From December 1977 until February 1978 Gary and Pat Holms built this miners camp with their four children. It was the last year steel beer cans were in use. Initially the family used rocks on the bottom but found that they were too heavy to lift so cans were used instead. Donations are accepted toward the restoration of the house, and guided tours or self-guiding tours are available.
32. Bingo At The Bowls Club
Get your Bingo game on at the Lightning Ridge Bowling Club. Get in contact with them to find out when it’s on but it seems to be happening most days. It’s a fun way to join in and meet the locals.
33. Sheepyard And Community War Memorial
Out at Grawin you will find the Sheepyard and Community War Memorial. It has been put together by the locals and they have done a really great job. A group of unpolished ironstone rocks from the local environment is arranged in a roughly circular pattern as part of the memorial. There are numerous dedication plaques attached to the rocks. Additionally, there are three flagpoles, one for the Aboriginal flag, one for the Australian flag, and one for the New South Wales state flag.
34. Kangaroo Hill Complex
You have to visit this place it’s absolutely worth the cost of entry. The owner Gwen is a wealth of knowledge on Lightning Ridge. If you want to know anything about Lightning Ridge ask Gwen. She has been an opal miner and is a complete character. Go to Kangaroo Hill Complex and you will not be disappointed. It’s also a great stop if you’re into weird oddball antiques and “different” souvenirs.
35. Australian Opal Centre
The Australian Opal Centre is a national museum being created Lightning Ridge. It’s purpose is to preserve – display and research the best public collection of Australian opals, fossils and the history and heritage of the Aussie opal fields.
The Australian Opal Centre is home to the world’s leading collection of opalised fossils and a magnificent collection of precious opal. It also showcases cultural artefacts, artwork, photographs plus archival and research materials.
Is Lightning Ridge Safe?
We’ve been to Lightning Ridge and have always found it to be a very safe town. Like most places you just need to take care and lock your stuff up and be sensible. Crime statistics show a lot of assaults however we’ve never seen anything of the sort.
- Mines have many deep and dangerous shafts so be careful around them. Take care of children around mines. Mines are literally everywhere in Lightning Ridge.
- During summer the area can get very hot so be very careful.
- Whenever possible avoid driving at night or in the dusk as the risk of animal collisions increases.
Detailed Lightning Ridge Crime Statistics 2020 & 2021
|Division||Sub Division||Recorded （Year 2021)||Recorded (Year 2020)|
|Abduction and kidnapping||Abduction and kidnapping||0||1|
|Against justice procedures||Breach Apprehended Violence Order||25||37|
|Against justice procedures||Breach bail conditions||34||46|
|Against justice procedures||Escape custody||0||0|
|Against justice procedures||Fail to appear||0||0|
|Against justice procedures||Other offences against justice procedures||3||2|
|Against justice procedures||Resist or hinder officer||6||7|
|Assault||Domestic violence related assault||37||31|
|Assault||Non-domestic violence related assault||17||22|
|Betting and gaming offences||Betting and gaming offences||0||0|
|Blackmail and extortion||Blackmail and extortion||0||0|
|Disorderly conduct||Criminal intent||3||8|
|Disorderly conduct||Offensive conduct||1||0|
|Disorderly conduct||Offensive language||3||0|
|Drug offences||Cultivating cannabis||1||1|
|Drug offences||Dealing, trafficking in amphetamines||1||2|
|Drug offences||Dealing, trafficking in cannabis||1||1|
|Drug offences||Dealing, trafficking in cocaine||0||0|
|Drug offences||Dealing, trafficking in ecstasy||0||2|
|Drug offences||Dealing, trafficking in narcotics||0||0|
|Drug offences||Dealing, trafficking in other drugs||0||0|
|Drug offences||Importing drugs||0||0|
|Drug offences||Manufacture drug||0||0|
|Drug offences||Other drug offences||1||2|
|Drug offences||Possession and/or use of amphetamines||7||8|
|Drug offences||Possession and/or use of cannabis||29||24|
|Drug offences||Possession and/or use of cocaine||0||0|
|Drug offences||Possession and/or use of ecstasy||1||1|
|Drug offences||Possession and/or use of narcotics||0||0|
|Drug offences||Possession and/or use of other drugs||2||2|
|Homicide||Murder accessory, conspiracy||0||0|
|Intimidation, stalking and harassment||Intimidation, stalking and harassment||51||32|
|Liquor offences||Liquor offences||5||2|
|Malicious damage to property||Malicious damage to property||33||39|
|Other offences||Other offences||13||6|
|Other offences against the person||Other offences against the person||1||0|
|Pornography offences||Pornography offences||0||0|
|Prohibited and regulated weapons offences||Prohibited and regulated weapons offences||16||9|
|Prostitution offences||Prostitution offences||0||0|
|Robbery||Robbery with a firearm||0||0|
|Robbery||Robbery with a weapon not a firearm||0||0|
|Robbery||Robbery without a weapon||0||0|
|Sexual offences||Sexual assault||5||6|
|Sexual offences||Sexual touching, sexual act and other sexual offences||11||2|
|Theft||Break and enter dwelling||28||45|
|Theft||Break and enter non-dwelling||0||1|
|Theft||Motor vehicle theft||8||8|
|Theft||Receiving or handling stolen goods||7||3|
|Theft||Steal from dwelling||14||14|
|Theft||Steal from motor vehicle||66||11|
|Theft||Steal from person||0||1|
|Theft||Steal from retail store||2||5|
|Transport regulatory offences||Transport regulatory offences||0||0|
Caravan Parks Lightning Ridge
Lightning Ridge Holiday Park
The Lightning Ridge Holiday Park is one of the original caravan parks in Lightning Ridge located right in the centre of town. It’s just off the main roads so it’s very quiet, and within walking distance to a range of shops, galleries, cafes and the Lightning Ridge Bowling Club. The park is located next to the Aquatic Theme Park and Indoor Olympic Diving heated pool. The Lightning Ridge Holiday Park consists of 4 Self Contained Budget Ensuite Cabins, 4 Powered Ensuite Sites, 60 Powered Sites, 6 Un Powered Sites & 10 Tent sites.
Address: 44 Harlequin Street, Lightning Ridge NSW 2834
Phone: (02) 6829 0532
Crocodile Caravan Park
Family owned and operated, at Crocodile Caravan Park we are proud to offer you a range of accommodation during your stay in Lightning Ridge. We have grassed powered sites, onsite vans, and Standard or Ensuite Cabins. We provide clean, accessible amenities as well as a coin-operated laundry.
Address: 5 Morilla Street, Lightning Ridge, NSW, 2834
Phone: 02 6829 0437
BIG4 Opal Holiday Park
At BIG4 Opal Holiday Park there is a range of comfortable accommodation options available from spacious drive through sites for caravans or camping, ensuite sites, and self-contained cabins.
Phone: 02 6829 4884
Address: BIG4 Opal Holiday Park, 142 Pandora Street, Lightning Ridge NSW 2834
How To Get To Lightning Ridge
It takes about nine hours to drive to Lightning Ridge from Sydney and Canberra. Roads are sealed and generally in really good condition.
|Adelaide to Lightning Ridge||1414km||15:13|
|Brisbane to Lightning Ridge||662km||07:42|
|Canberra to Lightning Ridge||756km||08:30|
|Melbourne to Lightning Ridge||1188km||12:43|
|Sydney to Lightning Ridge||716km||08:29|