‘The Ridge’ – Part 2

The Unusual Allure of ‘The Ridge’

I have been lucky enough to travel to some great places. Dani has been even more lucky to do some of these trips at such a young age. Some places, often well trodden tourist spots, really grab your attention through their sheer beauty or magnificent scale. Places with huge rivers, mountains and waterfalls, beautiful unspoilt beaches, or wild dense forests or jungle teeming with wildlife.

Then there are places you visit that can give you the similar feelings or even a sense of belonging, without having anything you can physically relate to. Lightning Ridge, this tiny pioneer mining town, is one of those places.

There is definitely something about ‘The Ridge’, that attracts so many from lots of different places. Some arrive planning a short stay and end up staying there for the rest of their lives. Others decide to come to live and work here having only read about the place.  Ask them to explain why and they will struggle to tell you. But there they stay.

Art

Artists tend to be drawn to such places. John Murray is one such artist. Creator of Stanley the Emu and famous local painter of outback scenes. He has a gallery in the town and it is well worth a visit…

John Murray’s Art Gallery in Lightning Ridge. Well worth a visit.
Little Shop of Horrors? I think so although I have never seen that movie…
Mural artwork outside of the John Murray gallery
He has even started painting the floor of this side alley…

We will see more of John Murray’s work on various walls in other outback towns. Once you have seen his work some of it is instantly recognisable.

Some kind of robot sculpture… Dani loved it at least.
And of course he loved this one.

Murals

Other artists leave their mark on big outside walls. The mural painter is as much a part of Australian outback life as the miner or the farmer. Here are some examples from the Ridge…

Can you spot my dwarf amongst this mural?
An Aboriginal themed mural
Artwork on the wall of one of the town’s restaurants.

Where Mining meets Art

There is another incredible place to see some local artwork. Hundreds of sculptures carved into the rockface of an opal mine. It is called (somewhat mysteriously) The Chambers of the Black Hand Mine. But I think that warrants its own post… So more on that one to come later.

Bowling

We stayed in a motel right opposite the Lightning Ridge Bowling Club. It’s a great place to get a refreshing drink and has an extensive menu with some great value for money meals. Dani also wanted to try his hand at outdoor bowling. SO I asked if we could borrow some bowls…

The locals are so friendly they were almost falling over themselves to find a set of bowls that we could use. We played for a while (in the hot sun) and Dani was hooked. At least until I beat him convincingly hahaa…

Lightning Ridge Bowling Club – of which we were members, of course.
Not bad for his first ever attempt

Artesian baths

They say that a trip to the Ridge would not be complete without a visit to the Artesian Bore Baths. The baths are located on the wonderfully named Pandora Street and entry is free. What’s not to like?

This naturally heated thermal baths  gets its hot water from the great artesian basin, the largest underground water source in the world. It stretches across much of northern NSW most of western Queensland and into parts of Northern Territory and South Australia. The water can be found at depths between 100 metres and up to 2000 metres down. The temperatures range from 30 to 100 degrees C!  At Lighting Ridge the bore water is a constant 41.5°C. That’s fairly warm!

Artesian Bore Baths at Lightning Ridge
Dani braving the hot water

The water was a little too hot for me and Dani but we tried.

Amigos Castle

Among the curious attractions in the area is Amigo’s Castle. This amazing place was single-handedly built by an Italian born man.

He was self taught in the art of construction and it took him from 1981 to 2001. It also houses an art gallery with tours but it was closed when we were there. Not sure if that was due to the covid crap or not?

Amigo’s Castle – located on the Red Car Door Tour
Attraction number 9 on the Red Car Door Tour
Stones were moved into place using 44 gallon drums and planks of wood.
A ‘Castle’ tower
The owner also had a sense of humour…

Street names…

This town gets many of its street names from the its own mining industry. Very similar to Broken Hill in that respect.

An obvious street name for this town…
Silica, the stuff that makes Opals
Another precious stone…
What can I say? Brilliant!
And of course Opal Street.

If you missed it you can read part one from Lightning Ridge here.

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