Day 25 – Bourke to Lightning Ridge
Lightning Ridge, Australia
Toady’s Challenge – There is no challenge today, because we cannot think of one.
We rise in plenty of time to get to the paddle steamer but right at the last minute Rod realises his watch has stopped and we scramble to get there on time. Not to worry we are first on board as a number of stragglers turn up late.
The captain and his mate are real ockers and fill us in on the history of the Darling River Riverboat Trade and also lots of info about the local wildlife. We learn some interesting facts about pumping water out of the river and about the requirement to leave any tree that falls into the water in place for eco requirements. For some reason this seems to defy logic. The trip is a pleasant one and a good start to the day.
We leave Back O’ Bourke (as it is referred to) at 10.15am heading to Lightning Ridge and the trip meter clocks 10.000km. Deb suggests we celebrate with a beer and gets no opposition from Rod. We pass through Brewarinna where the only attraction is some ancient Aboriginal Fish Traps which are apparently still in use today. We catch a glimpse of them from the road but decide against hiking to the river to get a closer look.
Next stop is Walgut. Rod refuels and asks the cashier to recommend a good place for lunch. She said that we should buy a sandwich from her, but a customer behind Rod whispers in his ear……. “try the RSL” and that’s where we head. Lunch is somewhat ordinary but the beer is good and its not long before we hit the road again.
We pull into Lightning Ridge at 2.30pm and book into the Wallangulla Motel. Its just across the road from the Bowling Club so it’s fine by us. We have booked a highly acclaimed tour called the Black Queen at 5.00pm so we search to find a Mine Tour that we can fit in the meantime. As luck would have it one is starting at the Black Hand at 3.00pm so we head out into the bush following the Yellow Car Door signs. (Look it up).
We are met at the top of the mine by our guide who has been working this site for the past three years without much luck; (“heard that before” we say). After a WH&S briefing we don our helmets and descend some 86 steps to the bottom of the mine. Its an interesting tour with some interesting stories but what makes this mine special is that one of the leaseholders has an artistic streak and has been carving sculptures into the walls. They are very impressive and not at all what you would expect to find down an opal mine shaft.
Next port of call is the Black Queen theater on the Ridge and we are picked up by a Mini-Van right on sunset and follow the Red Car Door signs to get there. Ranked No1 by Trip Adviser for things to see in Lightning Ridge the multi award-winning ‘Black Queen’ weaves drama, stories and history around a hand-crafted museum of light and a priceless collection of antique lamps.
After the show which was a little self indulgent and to long for our liking we are returned to our Motel and wander across the road hoping we are not to late to catch dinner. The food here is skanky but it fills a hole and Deb tries her luck on the Pokies.
We retire at 10.00 trying to decide if we should drive all the way back to Brisbane tomorrow. If we do, it will be our longest drive of the journey, even longer than Cocklebiddy to Ceduna.