Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Lightning Ridge is a town of approximately 2000 persons in north-western New South Wales, Australia. The population is highly mutable as transient miners come and go over time. There is an official population indicator sign on the highway as you enter the town that says, "LIGHTNING RIDGE - POPULATION ?". The official population according to the Government Census is just that - unknown.
The town is 4km east of the Castlereagh Highway, and is serviced by the nearby town of Walgett - some 75kms to the south. It is a flourishing tourist town with numerous caravan and camping parks, the very rustic and contagious Diggers' Rest pub and a well appointed and vibrant bowling club with its 8 artificial grass bowling greens. Temperatures in summer can reach into the high 40s Celsius, but below ground the temperature remains at a pleasant and constant 22 degrees all year round.
Lightning Ridge owes its existence to opal, in particular, the black opal. Lightning Ridge has the largest deposits of this gemstone in the world.
A fossicker's license is required to mine here and is obtainable from the New South Wales Department of Mineral Resources.
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