Another beautiful morning – and today we didn’t need the heater! In fact we both changed into tee-shirts around lunch time and I even changed into shorts. It was a beautiful day!
Today was always going to be an easy day. After breakfast we went for a walk around the caravan park and were quite surprised to find a couple of owls sleeping in a tree close to Bertha – hopefully you can see them in the photo!
We then headed off to the Tourist Information Centre for some maps and tourist information then set off to explore the town of Lightning Ridge on foot. We had been prepared to take Bertha on a bit of a drive around town but there was limited road access to many places due to wet roads and generally surface water everywhere. We decided not to risk taking Bertha anywhere too adventurous and settled for a walk instead.
First stop was Morillas Café for coffee then we continued our walk along Morilla Street. Lightning Ridge is certainly an interesting place, as the mining life must be a tough one. Many properties are somewhat run-down although there are exceptions like the bowling club and associated bottle shop. There do not appear to be many new buildings, whether commercial or residential.
Last time we visited we were able to go inside this historic cottage but now the condition has deteriorated to the extent that visitor access is prohibited on safety rounds. There are several other historic buildings and museums, including the place where Charlie Nettleford hangs out.
There are a number of accommodation options in town, including several caravan parks and plenty of motels ranging from “economy” to quite up market. We’re a bit surprised, and the locals seems a bit disappointed, that there aren’t more travellers at this time, this year.
Large wall murals appear to be quite popular but further investigation reveals that these are not all community related projects but simply large advertisements for various businesses in town. At least they all brighten up the town.
One place with fantastic exterior paint-work was the John Murray art gallery. Murray’s artworks are immediately recognisable whether on the outside of his own gallery, or on the paintings, cards etc on view in the gallery. He is also responsible for the design of the sculpture we saw yesterday at the rest area – it turns out that it is a metal emu named Stanley. John Murray also painted the flying bus outside the Lightning Ridge Outback Oasis.
Not surprisingly there are opals everywhere in Lightning Ridge, and it seems that almost every shop you come across either buys or sells opals. We stopped at The Opal Cave and a very nice lady took quite a while to explain the various types and grades of opals found here in Lightning Ridge and in other places as well. It was very interesting.
All in all we had a great walk around town and certainly met our step targets today.
Back at the caravan park we spent some time relaxing in the sun and resting after our walk. I later cooked some dead animal products on the camp BBQ.
Unfortunately the sky started clouding over with grey clouds, so it looks as though we are going to be in for more rain. The weather forecast indicates the same thing so we are going to be closely monitoring the weather for the next few days and it will likely affect the routes we travel and the places we visit.
Just as a quick final observation, the TV around here is quite interesting. We watched a bit of the channel 10 news and weather from Melbourne, which was interspersed with political ads from the Northern Territory, furniture and cars from Alice Springs, and other assorted products from other places. It all seems to point to a quite confused sense of identity.
At this stage we plan on heading further north tomorrow, but we’ll double check the weather forecast before making a decision.
Life on the road is never boring …..