Lightning Ridge Opal

Lightning Ridge is a town in north-western New South Wales, Australia, in Walgett Shire, near the southern border of Queensland. Lightning Ridge has the largest known deposits of black opals in the world, which are acknowledged as the most beautiful and expensive of all opals.
The name Lightning Ridge is said to have originated when, in the 1870s, some passers by found the bodies of a farmer, his dog and 600 sheep which had been struck by lightning.
The opal deposits are generally found at 6 to 18 m below ground level in the deeply weathered claystone layer of the Griman Creek Formation of the Early Cretaceous age.
Opals at Lightning Ridge are found in two forms: rounded nodules, termed ‘nobbies’; or in seams.
The main opal field “groups” located at Lightning Ridge are; Coocoran, Grawin/Carters, Glengarry/Sheepyards, Wyoming, Jag Hill and Mehi.
Opal was first discovered in the Lightning Ridge area by European settlers in the 1880’s.
Although some confusion exists, the sinking of the first shaft at Lightning Ridge is attributed to boundary rider Jack Murray in 1901 or 1902.
Mining today is still usually a small independent enterprise, with little sophisticated machinery.
This gives the town a frontier feel to it and contributes to the charm of the area and rarity of the opals themselves.

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