NSW Country trip continued: August 7-9

Friday August 7
Narrabri-Lightning Ridge
On our way from Narrabri to Lightning Ridge, we stopped again (did this on a previous trip) at the CSIRO Paul Wild Observatory to take a few pictures. It was raining, but the Telescope Compact Array was working, and moving around….!

Got a lot of rain, but arrived in Lightning Ridge in dry weather, where we met up with Kendy’s parents Pat & Laurie who were also travelling NSW… so we set up camp beside them (where coincidentally their old neighbours also happen to be! small world. huh)… Had a great evening all together in the camp kitchen at one of the big tables.

Saturday 8 & Sunday 9 August
Lightning Ridge

Today we did an underground mine tour… In this part of NSW are a lot of Opal mines with many still operating. Although we understand from talking to the locals that opal mining is not for those who want to make a quick buck. Hard work for little return, and even more work complying with all government rules & regulations.

We went to see what some of these miners did. Some 25 years ago one miner (Ron Canlin) in particular wasn’t impressed with his mine purchase when it only yielded around $1,000 worth of opals after a year’s hard work, so decided to change his income method. He carved a set of stairs 12m down (which took him 6 months) and then proceeded to carve (and paint some) images in the sandstone walls and pillars. It is open for visitors (there are plenty of tourists in Lightning Ridge) with it also being the only underground opal shop :-). It is amazing to see the many sculptures he made in the very soft sandstone. We also saw some beautiful opals (with matching prices) displayed.

After this experience, we walked around town and did some shopping for dinner. When we say town you have to keep in mind that there are only 2200 people living here, so it is not big at all, though the streets are very wide and quite long. The town has many opal shops and some attractions such as a Bottle House Mining museum, a half-completed (but heritage listed!) castle, some old miners’ cottages as well and a lovely art gallery. The Artesian bore baths are also something typical of this area (water is 40+ degrees C). A lot of people like these baths, but we were quite happy to cycle over and just have a look.

Below some pictures of the various attractions…

We really enjoyed John Murray‘s art gallery – his art is quirky and he has a great sense of humour. There are various murals and other pieces of his art exhibited around town.

The weather was not looking too good today so we adjusted our plans for a planned day trip to another outback town (of 4 houses) for a pub lunch. Instead, we walked to Lightning Ridge’s ‘Amigo’s Castle‘. A bit of weird history of this ‘castle’ built by an Italian immigrant (hence the Spanish ‘Amigo’ nickname, ah well, what’s the difference in foreign languages) disenchanted with his failure to make a fortune finding opals on his claim. As he didn’t have a permit to build the castle, the council planned to bulldoze the building. The locals came to the rescue and managed to get the building heritage listed. That stopped the demolition but of course also any building progress. Amigo still lives at the back of the site but his castle will never be lived in, so he gets an income from the visitors who pay $5.

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2 thoughts on “NSW Country trip continued: August 7-9

  1. Wat een leuk verslag weer.
    Ik vind murals altijd interessant en deze gefotografeerde zijn zeker de moeite van het bekijken waard.
    Leuk om te zien zijn ook de beelden.
    En wat een puinhoop die achtertuin van het kasteel. Iets voor een rommelmarkt!
    Groetjes Ton

  2. Ha Jen, wat een leuke verhalen weer. Die murals zijn enig en ook dat dorp met al die verzamelingen (zelfs een paar klompen uit Holland? ?) Erg interessant die beelden in de mijnschacht.
    Wat een leven in die mijnen daar en dan voor zo weinig geld. In ieder geval is aan mij nog wat verdiend : weet je nog dat ik een ring met opaal kocht bij jullie? Ik draag hem nu dagelijks (eerst was ik er wat zuinig op want hij is al een keer terug geweest voor reparatie ).
    Het weer werkt niet steeds mee zie ik maar desondanks doen jullie toch veel en is het genieten. Ga zo door en ik lees het weer graag.
    Hier gaan wij gebukt onder een heuse hittegolf, vandaag net zoals andere dagen , weer 35 graden, puf, puf.
    Maar we houden het vol , liefs xx Annette

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