It’s history, it’s proof and it’s pretty, it’s Australia’s national gemstone… it’s the Opal!

It’s history, it’s proof and it’s pretty. The opal, Australia’s national gemstone, is largely famous for its remarkable colours. More than 95 percent of all precious opals come from Australian mines, with Lightning Ridge in NSW housing the world’s richest deposits of black opals. In fact, it remains the only place in the world to mine the beautiful and rare black opal in quantity.

It’s also home to the world’s oldest known eel fossil, consisting of an opalised eel skull, and the world’s oldest egg-laying mammal fossils (monotremes) were also discovered here.

The opal is unique because it has little or no colour of its own; they’re made up of regular planes of microscopic spheres and the amazing colour is formed when light rays hit those planes. Aboriginal Dreamtime speaks of the creator coming down to Earth on a rainbow. Wherever his foot touched the ground, the stones began sparkling in all the colours of the rainbow.

Where // Lightning Ridge is around 770km northwest of Sydney in northern NSW. (02) 6829 1670, www.lightningridge.net.au

Did you know? // Although today found only in Australia, fossil records have shown that the bizarre ancestors and cousins of the platypus were once also found in the then united lands of Antarctica and South America. 

 

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