The final leg of our month long road trip was from Broken Hill to Bourke then on to Lightening Ridge and finally the big push to home.
As we traveled through this part of outback we really enjoyed the scenery that is so unique to this part of the world.
There had been quite a bit of rain recently so things were showing signs of new growth and the wild flowers were abundant.
However as you can see from the below photo the conditions are still very dry and lots more rain is needed, I guess this is the reality of the outback.
We also saw lots more wild life.
At the Back of Bourke Information center we were treated with a large flock of Black Cockatoos eating the berries of the cedar trees and I was able to get a few snaps. They are such magnificent birds. We also learnt all about the history of the area including the early explorers, the history of the paddle steamer trade which made Bourke a significant inland trading port.
Bourke has some amazing scenery nearby and this has kept local artist Jenny Greentree very busy. Her gallery was great and we came away with a few prints to take to NZ with us.
Lightning Ridge is an opal mining town and home to the Black Opal and the site of some amazing hot artesian springs and John Murray's gallery. John Murray produces some comical art that captures the essence of the outback and is know for his below painting of Tony Abbott our former Prime Minister.
We made good use of the hot pools every day but being pregnant I had to be careful not to get over heated as the blood vessels dilate and then the baby can have reduced oxygen, so I sat on the step of the kiddy pool and just had from my hips down in the water and then only for 10 minutes but even that was great and enough.
|The hot pools, free to access 23 hours a day with change rooms, great lighting all night|
and picnic facilities.
Australia produces a lot of the worlds opals and where as Coober Peedy tends to produce pearly coloured opals Lightning Ridge produces Black Opals and while there I treated myself to a set of earrings. They were not cheap but they are my treat to myself for finishing work and having a baby and I will get a lot of wear from them.
Lightning Ridge is a funny town to drive around as when you drive down the main street it looks just like lots of other outback towns other than the fact that every second shop either buys or sells opals. But venture off the main street and you are confronted with homes made of every conceivable material and yards full of piles of spoil as people hunt for opals in their back yards.
And if you want to get a taste of opal mining you can fossick for free in the big pile of spoil outside the information centre where people have found opals up to the value of $5000.
|Us outside the information center beside the fossicking pile|
|Tourists fossicking outside the information centre|
|Front yards of Lightning Ridge|
As I mentioned the people of Lightning Ridge live in all sorts of home and these are just a sample.
A home made with bottles and cans.
Help wanted in the castle.
An assortment of materials used for building.
On one of our tours we stopped off at Bevans Cactus Nursery which has the largest collection of cacti in the southern hemisphere some of which are up to 150 years old. I wish we had been there to see them flower but that is September/October and we will be busy with Peanuts arrival.
|An old miners house - boy it would have been hot in summer|
On our last day at Lightning Ridge we made an effort to go and see something that the ridge is famous for - Outback sunsets.
We followed the Green Car Door tour to one of the first mine shafts ever sunk in the area traveling past a lot of moonscape type land on the way.
It was really cloudy up at the lookout and we were not sure if we would get a great sunset or if it would be too cloudy and be a fizzer.
But we were patient and it paid off as you can see from the following photos.
We stayed at the Opal Caravan Park which was fantastic. The park is only 5 years old so the amenities are well designed and modern. There was entertainment every afternoon and they are just 200m from the hot pools.
If you ever have the chance to go to Lightning Ridge you should take it as it is so worth a visit and a week would be the ideal amount of time to look around as well as have some down time to just relax.
We made the big push to home from the ridge in just 1 day which was 10 hours of driving but if we had stopped on the way and set up camp again then packed up the next day it would have taken the same amount of time so we decided to just push on and sleep in our own bed which after camping for a month we were looking forward to.