Yesterday we had a look around Bourke in the morning and then drove from Bourke to Lightning Ridge, which wasn't a very big drive. On the way we drove through a dust storm which got pretty bad and you couldn't even see the road in front of you. Pretty cool to see and amazing to see how quickly it changed. We later spoke to locals in Lightning Ridge who said that the storm came through there aswell and they couldn't see down the main street and shops etc were covered in dust/red dirt.
When we arrived in Lightning Ridge it looked like rain and storms were around, and because of that and the wind and heat we again booked into cabins! We stayed the Outback Resort & Caravan Park which was so nice. Went to the pub (part of the park) for a beer (got free beer vouchers with our accommodation!) and the kids then went for a swim before dinner.
After dinner we took a drive out to the Artesian Bore baths for a swim. The water comes from the Great Artesian Basin and is approximately 2 million years old. Natural pressure sends the water to the surface through an artesian bore and it stays at a constant temperature of 41.5 degrees Celsius.
The Great Artesian Basin is one of the largest freshwater basins in the world and contains approx. 8,700 million megalitres of water and underlies 22% of Australia.
We've been to a few of these baths and they are meant to be very therapeutic for the body, they are very relaxing. This one in particular is open 24 hours a day and it's free entry. It was about 10pm when we headed down there and it was so relaxing lazing around staring up at the stars in the dark sky.
This morning we headed in to town to have a look at the various opal shops and had a visit to our favourite artist, John Murray. Of course, we didn't leave without buying a couple more prints!
We then headed off to do a couple of the car door tours. Along the way we visited one of the mines to do a tour.
Lightning Ridge is home of the Black Opal. Black Opal was first discovered in the area in the 1870's Mining in the late 1800's and early 1900's was hard work, as miners used hand picks and shovels to dig and climbed the mine shafts with the backs and legs braced against the walls or on knotted ropes. Today, miners use steel ladders and mechanical pulleys take the excess dirt from the mine to the surface. Everywhere you drive you can see the dirt piles appearing at the top of mine shafts.
There are mines everywhere, just holes in the ground ranging in size, some only really visible due to the pile of dirt next to it.
Having never been there before we went to visit the Bottle House. This was an old miners house, the owner and his wife built this and used to sleep in the mezzanine level. It was built out of bottles which came from a nearby pub (can't remember exactly where). Inside it's now a museum of lots of old things with lots of history. The old guy knows everything and knows where he bought or got every piece from and it's story. Lots of things we remembered from our childhood, old cameras I remember that mum had. There was a lock from the Old Dubbo Goal, a wanted posted for Ned Kelly (authenticated), lots of crystals and petrified wood etc from places that we have previously visited so we found it very interested. Don't think the others were that excited with this place, but we both enjoyed it and found it very interesting and enjoyed chatting with the owner and hearing his stories.
We love Lightning Ridge, it's one of those places that you really can't describe to people, no-one truly understands until they go there themselves. The population is said to be around 2,000, but it's hard to know as only some people actually live in the town in houses, the rest live up on the mine fields in 'camps'. To call these camps a house would be stretching it! They range from quite nice structures with solar panels etc to caravans or shipping containers to some sort of shelter slapped together with iron and wood! None of these camps are connected to the towns power grid, some use solar power or generators, while others go without power. "Camps" are marked with car doors or bonnets (or similar) with "Joe" or "Sue & Ben's house" to others simply saying "keep out" "F**k off" etc!