Lightning Ridge

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Lightning Ridge Novelty Number Plate - Aluminium with embossed border


LIGHTNING RIDGE is a small outback town in north-western New South Wales, Australia. Part of Walgett Shire, Lightning Ridge is situated near the southern border of Queensland, about six kilometres east of the Castlereagh Highway. The Lightning Ridge area is a world-renowned centre of the mining of black opals and other opal gemstones.

There is nowhere in Australia quite like Lightning Ridge. As a town it is the most bizarre, and compelling, combination of rural sophistication. The main street is sealed, curbed and guttered with lovely green grass and has rows of regular shops. It’s home to the wildly eccentric – gasp at the house made from bottles and the rough cement “castle” of the Astronomer’s Monument; surrounded by a moonscape of mullock heaps under which literally hundreds of obsessed miners search and dig for the black opals which have made the town famous.

Lightning Ridge is unlike the other major opal centres – Coober Pedy, Andamooka, White Cliffs – in the sense that it is accessible and consequently it attracts over 80,000 tourists, visitors and itinerants each year. This means that it has a a number of good quality motels, a rich array of souvenir and gift shops, some good restaurants, and a veneer of civilisation designed to meet the needs of visitors and fossickers who come for the winter months and spend their time digging for opals. In summer the temperature soars and the itinerants retreat to their cooler summer homes.
Lightning Ridge is known to be the only place in Australia, and one of the few places in the world, where the highly prized black opal is found. The black opal is prized not only because of its rarity but because it has carbon and iron oxide trace elements which produce a very dark stone with hints of blue, green and red.

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