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UNUSUAL AUSTRALIAN PLACES AND TOWNS 

Here we'll let you know about interesting places you might like to visit someday.


LIGHTNING RIDGE

Fast facts

  • Iconic outback mining town famous for its rare black opals
  • Desolate semi-desert landscape
  • 767 km north-west of Sydney, population 1,800

Why go there

Although there are many mining towns, and quite a few opal fields in the State, Lightning Ridge, located 75 km north of Walgett, has achieved legendary status. The harsh and arid desert conditions, intensified by the fierce summer heat, have nonetheless created a sense of community that embraces visitors.

The prize for local miners is black opal, a dark stone with dazzling flecks of red, blue and green, the result of carbon and iron oxide trace elements.


Lightning Ridge opal mines

History

Professional prospector Charles Nettleton uncovered the opal-mining potential of the area in 1902. The site he worked, and where the town eventually developed, was originally part of the Angledool Station.

It was gazetted as Wallangulla but became Lightning Ridge following World War I.

Things to do

  • Scan the moonscape of discarded mine diggings that cover the town.
  • Try your luck fossicking for opals.
  • Play a round of golf on a course set on an old opal field with 'greens' of oiled sand.

Events

  • Lightning Ridge Goat Races, held at Easter, draws competitors from throughout the area.
  • Lightning Ridge Black Opal Rodeo, also at Easter, is a popular event.
  • Lightning Ridge Opal Festival ,held in July, includes the Opal Queen Ball.

Don’t miss

  • The self-guided tour of the Walk In Mine at Bald Hill.
  • The therapeutic mineralised waters of the Lightning Ridge Bore Baths.
  • Shopping for an opal souvenir at one of the many opal stores.
  • The Black Queen Expereince, a three-act play about life in the Outback.   

Courtesy of www.visitnsw.com 

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TULLY, QLD

    Front page of 'Tully Times' newspaper  -  28 January 1966

Claire Noble is disgusted that Tully should have built the Big Gumboot to celebrate its heavy rainfall.   In her opinion, it should have been a Big Flying Saucer.   From her balcony on the slope of  Mount Tyson, Tully's deep-green backdrop, she has recorded well over 2000 sightings of UFOs in the past 40 years, which amounts to about one a week.   At one stage she even put her proposal for a Big UFO to Rotary, the club behind the Big Gumboot, 'but they ignored me because I'm a woman'.

Noble's not the only resident of this small town, situated midway between Townsville and Cairns, to have seen extraterrestrial activity.   In fact, many if not most Tully residents will, when pressed, confess to having seen 'something' sometime.

Tully has been on the tongues of ufologists ever since a banana farmer discovered the world's original crop circle, the so-called Tully saucer nest, in January 1966.   When two British hoaxers confessed in 1991 to having made the famous crop circles found in English grain fields, they said they'd been inspired by the Tully discovery.

TANTANOOLA, S.A.

This was the home of the famous 'Tantanoola Tiger'.  Many areas of Australia have their stories about panthers and tigers roaming in the bush but this one is a bit different in that there is some basis in fact.   The creature was shot by Tom Donovan in the 1890's.   In reality, it turned out to be a Syrian Wolf.   The animal was stuffed and now resides in a glass case in the Tantanoola Tiger Hotel. 

                               

GUNDAGAI , N.S.W.

Today this town is the centre of a rich farming district but it is best known for its mentions in song and verse and as the site of the 'Dog on the Tuckerbox' in the song by Jack O'Hagan.

                                                    
BIRDSVILLE, QLD

Birdsville is famous for its isolation;   located on the edge of the Simpson Desert at the northern end of the equally well known Birdsville track, it is a tiny settlement of about 100 residents.   It gets a steady stream of 4WD adventurers who want to see the real ‘dead heart’ of Australia.

Once a year Birdsville comes to life and the pub does a roaring trade when the spring races are held in September.   People fly and drive to the town from all over Australia.

This harsh country can be very dangerous and a reminder of this fact is given by a memorial 100 km down the Birdsville track to the Page family whose car broke down there in 1963.   They tried to walk out and all five members of the family died.


THE HOUSE OF BOTTLES

At Kinglake, Victoria, is situated an interesting building which is constructed entirely of bottles – 13,569 of them.   The building was carefully planned in order to bring out the contrasting colours of the bottles.    And what is inside the building?   Naturally, a display of bottles, all kinds of bottles, up to 200 years old and from all over the world.   Also in the display are minerals, rocks, fossils and a collection of 5,500 pairs of shoes made from all kinds of materials.   Nearby is a Dutch windmill made of 5,000 bottles.

This display was constructed by Joseph Eykenbaum between 1969 and 1972.  


WHITE CLIFFS, N.S.W.

Situated in the north-west of New South Wales, White Cliffs is a tiny town with about 80 permanent residents.   Once, back in its hey-day, it was a boom town of 4,500 people, most of whom were  miners hoping to make their fortune by finding opal.   The visitor can fossick on the dumps today but the main thing of interest in the town is the Dugout Underground Motel.   The motel has 26 rooms that have been  dug out  of the hillside.

Most of the houses in town have been created in the same way.

The advantage of this is immediately apparent as soon as you step into the motel - outside it is as hot as blazes but inside  is a steady year-round temperature of 67 degrees.   The rooms are quite comfortable and adequate but, of course, windowless.   


GULGONG, N.S.W.

Gulgong's claim to fame is that it is known as 'the town on the $10 note'.  It is an old gold-mining town of about 1,700 people situated 29 km north-west of Mudgee, New South Wales, but, unfortunately, none of the buildings depicted on the note have survived.  Gulgong's heyday was in the 1870's.

JERILDERIE, N.S.W.

The Ned Kelly gang made Jerilderie famous.  They raided the town, locked the police in the gaol and robbed the bank.


PHILLIP ISLAND, VIC

The unusual thing about Phillip Island is the way birds and animals live freely alongside people.  The most popular attraction for visitors are the fairy penguins on Summerland Beach.   They spend the day out at sea hunting fish and, as the sun sets, arrive back on the beach in small groups carrying fish for their young.   They waddle up the beach seemingly oblivious to glaring floodlights and crowds of spectators.

Another popular spot is The Nobbies, a cluster of rocks off the south-west corner of the island where 5,000 fur seals live and breed.  Visitors can observe them through telescopes from the nearby headland.  There is also a blowhole which is a spectacular sight when the seas get rough.


COOPER PEDY, S.A.

Cooper Pedy is an opal mining town situated deep in the outback 925 km north of Adelaide.  The name is Aboriginal and is very apt because it means 'white fellow's hole in the ground'.

As well as spending a large portion of their working lives underground, most of the population choose to live underground too in order to escape fierce summer temperatures that go as high as 54'C.

Anyone can try their luck at searching for opals providing they first obtain a precious stones prospecting permit from the Mines Department in Adelaide.


'HUTT RIVER PROVINCE', W.A.

The permanent residents of this place claim that they have seceded from Australia and become a separate country.   The 'rulers' of this remote and barren 'province' are 'Prince Leonard' and 'Princess Shirl'.  It is estimated that about 60,000 tourists visit them every year and come away with a range of souvenirs to celebrate their 'international' journey.  The 'province' issues its own stamps and currency.