Home to Lightning Ridge

There is nothing like a road trip to clear your mind and re-charge the soul, day one saw us travel to Lightning Ridge on Newell Highway, we haven’t travelled down the Newell since our 1996 family road trip with the kids, oh the sounds of “are we there yet”, “he hit me”and “I have to pee” are but a distant memory and we cruise down the highway taking it all in. We drove through some wonderful farming country  and a very green Western NSW due to the recent rains. There is canola growing everywhere on the side of the road and quite few wild flowers. We noticed a lot of prickly pear cactus between Moree and Walden, it seems it’s becoming a pest again. We left at 5:30am and arrived around 4:30pm,  rather than rambling on I’ll let the pictures tell the story (click the image to view a larger version):

Stanley the emu
Meet Stanley the emu, he overlooks the highway just before Lightning Ridge. This sculpture was created by John Murray and is made out of a VW Beetle and a couple of satellite dishes. Pretty neat.
Population sign Lightning Ridge
No one quite knows the population of Lightning Ridge, many people live in camps and aren’t recorded.
Black Opal Tours bus
Taking the Black Opal Tours bus, we were the only two on it Sunday morning, Dave gave us a great introduction to the town.
Fred Bodel's Camp
This is Fred Bodels camp at Nettleton just outside of the main town, this hut was built in in 1916 in the early days of mining. Fred Bodel lived here till he passed away aged 93. Apparently he did well from the mine but still lived a modest life.
This is an open cut at the top of Lunatic's Hill, it's called Lunatic's Hill because the strata that contains opal is at a constant depth around 30 meters, those that chose to mine at Lunatic's Hill had to add the height of the hill to their mine. It obviously didn't stop a group called 'The Lunatic's Hill Syndicate" who open cut the whole area.
This is an open cut at the top of Lunatic’s Hill, it’s called Lunatic’s Hill because the strata that contains opal is at a constant depth around 30 meters, those that chose to mine at Lunatic’s Hill had to add the height of the hill to their mine. It obviously didn’t stop a group called ‘The Lunatic’s Hill Syndicate” who open cut the whole area.
lunaticHillCars
Lunatic Hill Spare Parts, lots of old vehicles strewn around this paddock
Opal cleaning centre
When enough rock is extracted from the mine it is taken to be cleaned at an operation like this. A concrete agitator is used to remove clay from the opal with copious amounts of water. The cleaned ore is the sorted, we were told that around 25% of opal is lost in this process. (I love taking photos of big machines)
Cooper Cottage
This is Cooper Cottage on the main street of Lightning Ridge.