The bonding experience many feel when arriving in Lightning Ridge may not have happened for us but there were a few magical moments as we explored the town. Usually before leaving home I like to have our adventure stops well researched which includes some background history. This time the curiosity and excitement that usually accompanies an absence from work didn’t happen which means we arrived in The Ridge quite unprepared. That meant our first stop was the Visitor’s Centre.
Knowledge of the must sees and history of a place is the privilege of the locals and picking their brains is a good way to get a feel for a town. We were not disappointed by the reception at the Lightning Ridge Visitor’s Centre.
The sole staffer at the centre was an older than mature man who drawled out a gruff Gidday how ya going greeting that was rather a statement of intrusion than any form of welcome. He was as dry and harsh as the land on which he dragged a living. Having said that he was quick to pick up on our complete ignorance of his town and made sure we left with the information we needed to make our visit enjoyable.
Sunset at Nettleton’s
Me Old Mate’s suggestion that one of the Ridge’s must dos is sunset at Nettleton’s First Shaft Lookout was a highlight and I wish my photographic skills could have done the colours justice.
The Can House
Located near the point where we watched sun set is the Can House, another quirky and creative contribution to Australian bush architecture. It was built in the 1970s and a great example of the ingenuity of miners who built their shelter from whatever they found and in this miner’s case it was beer cans, and a few bottles with which he created artworks that he built in to the walls of his shelter.
The Car Door Drives
Typical of the quirky personalities about town is the humour in the way the locals have put their home town on display. The Car Door Tour is the Ridge’s version of the self-drive tour. Four different tours and each is marked by a different colour-coded door, and each door is numbered around the route with arrows to keep one headed in the right direction. The drives pass working and abandoned opal mines, homes that sprung up as spontaneously as the mines and the shanty shelters miners have erected while on site.