Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lightning Ridge: the opal capital of the world

Lightning Ridge (located in northern New South Wales, Australia) is the home of the finest opals in the world, and is also a place of intrigue, where wealth and poverty sit comfortably side by side.

Space and light are in abundance and of a quality that attracts artists from all over Australia and overseas too.

The Lost Sea Opal cafe (situated diagonally opposite the caravan park where we stayed two nights) is perfect for coffee and meeting locals and other travellers. Our two German shepherds often provide an opening sentence or two and behave well, settling themselves beneath the table. Today we talked to three locals who remembered us and our dogs from last November, and then we had an interesting conversations with two lots of travellers.

Of course, I had to have a look at the adjoining shop that creates their own jewellery using Lightning Ridge opals. Last year I bought opal earrings; today I just looked. One opal caught my attention.

Shaped like a map of Australia, larger than my thumbnail and containing rich hues and flashes of blues and reds, it is an opal in one million. And its price, a mere $4500!. It has not been made into anything yet, but it could be a ring, brooch, pendant or any other form of decoration. I wonder who will buy it? I can honestly say I don't want it, but I do admire its beauty and hope its owner will enjoy wearing it.

To cynics, Lightning Ridge is described thus: It's not the end of the world but you can see it from here.

For me, though, I find Lightning Ridge fascinating with its rich blend of friendly eccentric people, space and opals.

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