Date: 6th June 2020
Travelled: 75 kms Walgett to Lightning Ridge in the North-West Region of New South Wales
Visited: Lightning Ridge
Stayed: Lightning Ridge Holiday Park $33 with all services. S29.428388, E147.980913
It’s only a relatively short 75 kms from Walgett to Lightning Ridge, for us there is a 15 kms backtrack along the Gwydir Highway (we drove yesterday) before turning north on the Castlereagh Highway. Surprisingly there is more traffic along the Castlereagh than we’ve seen since Tamworth. Why is such a small isolated place so popular ? Lightning Ridge is the only place in the world where black opals are found. In Australian folk lore it has something of a mythical reputation.
Lightning Ridge has five different campsites and caravan parks to choose from. We try the closest to the centre of town first as it has some good reviews. They only have 3 vacancies and we take one of them. We find ourselves surrounded by tuggers (caravaners and their 4X4s). There are a few motorhomes parked over one side but they are travelling as a group apparently.
They are all grey nomads basically. No ones talking about work or buying a new ski-boat or Harley Davidson. It’s all about getting the most out of the pension, the benefits of the health care card and spending the kids inheritance. The common theme however is their dislike of Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk. Basically everyone we talk to wants to be in North Queensland or the Northern Territory and blame her personally for maintaining the closed border.
Anyway it‘s a beautiful sunny day and time for a walk around town to get our bearings and find a good coffee.
Every house or building in Lightning Ridge seems to be ‘for sale’ or has a hand painted sign out the front selling something to do with opal or souvenirs. There are one or two nicer places selling some very expensive jewellery. Half the shops are closed or locked up. Then again no one has been able to visit the place for 8 weeks.
Back from our walk we lunch and relax until the artesian baths re-open at 2pm. Situated a couple of kms out of town we decide to ride the bikes. It is 3 eye burrs heaven out here but we risk a puncture and ride out.
We walk up to the bowling club as the sunsets. Luckily we were relatively early, getting a seat in the bistro, with the covid the club can only have 150 patrons and only 50 in the bistro. So we sat around chatting to a couple we met at the baths, earlier today. Enjoying a drink before walking back to the camper.
So that was our day in Lightning Ridge…Bourke tomorrow.
Michael + Pam