Lightning Ridge is a mining town in north-western New South Wales, Australia, in the Walgett Shire, 60km south of the Queensland border. Lightning Ridge is known for the mining of black opals and other opal gemstones and has the largest known deposits of black opals in the world.
This town has a wonderfully diverse population that engage in mining, tourism, farming and the arts. The traditional owners of the land around Lightning Ridge are the Yuwaalaraay people. After they were displaced by the establishment of colonial pastoral stations, many Yuwaalaraay people stayed on as labourers, but were increasingly dispersed in the early 20th century.
Lightning Ridge is an important paleontological site, with fossils dating back to the Cretaceous period, 110 million years ago. The sandstone rock once formed the bottom of a shallow inland sea where the remains of aquatic plants and animals were preserved. The site is especially important as a source of fossils of ancient mammals which, at that time, were small creatures living in a world dominated by dinosaurs. The fossils are sometimes opalised and discovered by opal miners.