Day 18 – Play of Light

A little while ago – about 140 million years ago – fine marine sands were being deposited across inland Australia as the inland sea receded. Over time massive weathering caused large amounts of the silica from the sands to flow through spaces and cracks under the outback landscape. For about 5 million more years the cycle of settling, decomposing and forming resulted in a unique vein of precious gems. These have been sitting in wait below the dry, sandy earth around what is now Lightning Ridge.


Known for its ‘play of light’ or fire. Its mesmerizing dance of rainbows as the gem is turned, tilted, rotated, appreciated.

Black Opal.

A rare gem that has lured many a dreamer to explore the vast lands around Lightning Ridge in search of ‘the one’ to secure their lottery, with a lot of digging.

Many fortune hunters have planned to travel to Lightning Ridge for a visit and stayed for a lifetime. It’s addictive and spellbinding.

And a solid part of Australian history, both past and present.

Lightning Ridge, a small town located in the middle of nowhere in western New South Wales is home to the Black Opal. And they are proud to be the keeper of the precious jewel.

Day 18 of the Advent Calendar for Making a Difference has a slightly different message to many others that have been profiled to now.

The Australian Opal Centre is a dream that is becoming a reality thanks to the passion and vision of Lightning Ridge residents and gemstones lovers. As its website describes:

“An extraordinary national monument is taking shape – a world class, energy-efficient, two-storey underground building that will be the home of the new Australian Opal Centre.

…This 21st century architectural icon will be a world-class tourism attraction and a world leader in the areas of knowledge, information, education and creative exploration of Australian opal. It will also play a vital role as a nexus for community, economic and cultural development across Australia’s inland opal producing areas”

In a time when many regional towns and villages are being depleted of their heart Lightning Ridge is building their vision to remain current, attractive and thriving. The Australian Opal Centre will make a difference to the economy and the community of the area as it seeks preserve one of Australia’s treasures. If you have ever been to ‘the Ridge” and experienced the hospitality and quirkiness you may like to help them realise this dream by donating or becoming a member. Details are on their website.

I wish you all the very best and look forward to visiting your dream. Who knows, I may stay for a life time.


Black Opals – image from

What ‘middle of nowhere’ looks like

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Day 19 – In drought, and always

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