An brief introduction to Lightning Ridge
The name Lightning Ridge is believed to derive from an old story where a shepherd, his dog and more than 600 sheep were killed during a massive electrical storm, while sheltering on one of the ridges in the area.
The Black Opal was discovered in Lightning Ridge at the end of the 1880s.They were first found in eroded creek beds and underneath the roots of fallen trees.
The first hand sunk shaft was put down by the boundary rider Jack Murray around 1901.
The news of the early discoveries of the new and unique Black O
pal at Lightning Ridge soon spread to the established opal town of White Cliffs and many thought the Black Opal held a greater potential due to its unique nature. Charlie Nettleton walked 700km to the Ridge in the drought of 1902 to see the black variant first hand. Believing in its commercial potential, a year later he walked the 700km back to White Cliffs to develop a market. Through his early efforts, Charles Nettleton is considered to have been a major force in developing the industry.
About 40km south-west is the Grawin opal fields which includes Glengarry, Sheepyard, Mulga Rush and Grawin.
During the 1980’s, opal was discovered at Lake Coocoran, thirty kilometres north of the Ridge, and it was the biggest boom since the early days and due to the record prices, Lightning Ridge swelled to over 8,000.