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Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!
July 14, 2010Posted by on
We are on a road trip that takes us 770 km northwest of Sydney where we find ourselves at the “Ridge”, Lightening Ridge that is! No gold here though, it’s opal territory, not just any opal , but home to the largest known deposits of black opal in the world.
We are in the Outback of Australia, or rather on the edge of the Outback and very near the Queensland border. And, we have stepped into another world. A world of dreams, opportunity, miners, true blue miners who spend their days looking for the elusive black opal.
As we hit town, we see the Lightening Ridge sign, quickly followed by a sign that says population ?.
That piques my interest. It’s my first question to our personal tour guide, miner and good friend Kayt. The opal bug bit her years ago. She and her husband have an opal mine in Lightening Ridge, which they work when they are not living their regular lives working in Sydney.
Kayt tells me that the reason they don’t know the population of Lightening Ridge is because the Ridge is a place where people come to disappear and disappear they can. The 2006 census counted 2, 602 people, locals believe there are more than 7000 people who call the Ridge home. Slight difference there!
My first impression of the Ridge was of surprise. It is much more touristy than I would have thought. Perhaps it is because more than 80,000 tourists pass through the Ridge every year.
Which is why you will find an amazing mine shaft full of carvings and art galleries, not to mention a house made of bottles. It was built by a woman, an obviously very talented woman.
I was again surprised when I walked into one art gallery and was confronted with a painting of raccoons. The artist who is an animal lover told me that she always thought raccoons were so beautiful and mischievous looking, so that is what she had tried to capture. She had never actually seen a live raccoon and was impressed that I immediately knew what they were and was interested to hear that I had seen more than my share of “coons” in my time. She had done a wonderful job of capturing the playful side of the raccoon. Besides the coons, she had many painting of dogs, cats and Australian wildlife. Very friendly lady, very genuine, as were all the people we met in Lightening Ridge.
The mine shaft full of carvings was spectacular. The carvings are all carved by one man. A miner turned artist. He is still adding to the carvings most days. Great tourist attraction and well worth seeing if you ever happen to be in Lightening Ridge.