Lightning Ridge is a town in north-western New South Wales, Australia, in Walgett Shire, near the southern border of Queensland. The Lightning Ridge area is a world epicentre of the mining of black opals and other opal gemstones. Lightning Ridge has the largest known deposits of black opals in the world. The name Lightning Ridge is said to have originated when in the 1870s some passers by found the bodies of a farmer, his dog and 600 sheep which had been struck by lightning.
The traditional owners of the land around Lightning Ridge are the Yuwaalaraay people. After they were displaced by the establishment of colonial pastoral stations, many Yuwaalaraay people stayed on as labourers, but were increasingly dispersed in the early 20th century. In 1936, several Indigenous families living at a local government settlement were forced to move to the Brewarrina settlement. Since that time, the local Indigenous population has increased because of the influx from other regions of Indigenous people seeking work in opal mining or agriculture.
Some artists have settled in and around Lightning Ridge. One of the most famous local Australian painters is John Murray who brings the impressions of the Outback, often in a situation with man or fauna onto the canvas.
Lightning Ridge has abundant hot water from a bore spring into the Great Artesian Basin and offers two hot water pools for bathing. The minerals make the water very healthy for external use and drinking. The public can tap mineral water at a hose in Harlequin Street. The Hot Artesian Bore Baths and Nettletons Shaft, on McDonald’s Six Mile Opal Field have been placed on the Register of the National Estate.
For more information on Lightning Ridge go to the Lightning Ridge Visitors Centre website.