Even if you don’t have a birthday in April, you can still wear a beautiful piece of jewellery that shows off the Australian stone that is mined in Lightning Ridge, and Coober Pedy. Of course there are other towns all over that globe that mine opals, but none of them are as popular.
The silica mineral comes in a variety of colours, and is found with rhyolite, basalt, marl, sandstone and limonite. White opals are the most common, while fire and black are very rare. Lightning Ridge in New South Wales produces more black opals than any other mine in the world. The opals become black because of iron and carbon oxide elements that are inside. Most of the residents who live in Lighting Ridge work the mines. If you plan on visiting this small outback town, you can expect to be met by locals, who some claim have spent a little too much time in the sun. There is a Church that was never used, and a medieval castle without a moat. Of course you can stay in town at one of the local hotels, do some opal shopping, or try your luck fossicking for the illustrious black opal.
Located in South Australia, Coober Pedy has got to be the most famous opal mining town in Australia, and quite possibly the world, most likely because the majority of its residents live underground. Those who visit the area can take a tour of authentic homes, churches, art galleries and shops that were all built underground. If you want to stay the night, book an underground hotel and get a feel for how the locals live their daily lives. Much more than mud huts, some of the homes that you will see on a walking tour are quite astounding. Of course if you don’t fancy staying underground, you can find accommodation in Coober Pedy where you can see the sunlight.
Rumour has it that some of the largest opals ever found were discovered on a walking tour. Who knows? You could be the next lucky soul who discovers a beautiful opal, without even having to wield a pick and shovel.