Mark has perfectly polished the Opal Caravan Park Lightning Ridge to show WOW factor

February 10, 2015
Mark has perfectly polished the Opal Caravan Park Lightning Ridge to show WOW factor

Mark Walsh drew on his own camping and caravanning experience to design Opal Caravan Park Lightning Ridge and added many features that he believes make his guests stay even more enjoyable.

"I want people to have the WOW factor in the park, to enjoy themselves so much that they have to come back," he said.

"To ensure this, we added large showers with doors on them, so your clothes don't get wet. We built a big fire pit so people can gather around it in the evening to enjoy the company of new friends.

"It is the little things that make a difference so we have tried to pay attention to detail," he said.

In 2013 Rippa reported in the GSA Forums that: The new Opal Caravan Park at Lightning Ridge has the best amenities I have come across. The showers all have a large separate changing area with ample shelving and a glass sliding door into the shower recess.

GoSeeAustralia travelled through Walgett to Lightning Ridge with two Jayco Sterling caravans in May 2012. GSA chose the Opal Caravan Park for our stay in Lightning Ridge and found this member of the Top Tourist Parks of Australia outstanding.

Opal Caravan Park was built in 2011 with all sites drive-through. There are also 14 fully self-contained cabins.

Opal Caravan Park, 142 Pandora St, is opposite the artesian bore baths in Lightning Ridge, NSW off the Castlereagh Highway (B55). GPS Coordinates: 2925'30''S, 14759'44''E.

The Artesian Bore Baths are 200 metres from the caravan park. They are free and open 24/7. The natural mineral water comes from a kilometre below and constantly flows through the two pools. This keeps the temperature around 39C. The muscle massaging experience needs to be managed, so short soaks in the hot artesian water are best. Hop out and cool off with a cold shower before going in again. Showers, toilets and change rooms are available and the area is floodlit at night.

Many people say that soaking in these waters help relieve aches and pains, Mark Walsh said. Enjoy a midnight soak under the stars and watch the steam gently rise into the night, or, watch the sunrise while warming up in the pools in the early morning, he said.

Opal Caravan Park owner Mark Walsh relocated to Lighting Ridge from Toowoomba. He had visited Lightning Ridge many times and saw that another accommodation facility was needed in the town because droves of caravans left Lightning Ridge during the peak season as they could not find accommodation.

Lightning Ridge, 726km from Sydney, is the Black opal capital of the world. This is the real accessible Outback. Its bush humor shows when locals comment that their towns diverse population is made up of: 2000 in town 2000 out of town and an unknown number underground.

Opal Caravan Park is particularly friendly to Big Rigs.

No rig is too big for our park! Mark says.

The park offers big ensuite caravan sites too.

Free artesian pools Lightning Ridge NSW.
Free artesian pools Lightning Ridge NSW.

There are also plenty of powered sites and a clean, spacious amenities block. All powered sites are drive-through, so no more straining the neck to back onto a campsite. The sites generally measure 15m x 8m.

They are level and have a gravel surface. This helps to keep grass and dirt out of Recreational Vehicles. All sites have power, water and sullage. The park also has a dump point.

Mark says unpowered camping is un-regulated so campers can set up where they like. There are no restrictions on the size of a camping area so a large family can spread out. Water and a sullage point are nearby.

Of the two camp kitchens (both of which include a free barbecue) one is placed near the camping area and has free everything including pizza oven and TV. There is also a heated swimming pool located next to this camp kitchen. No fires are permitted on campsites. But we light a fire each night in the cooler months in the fire pit area, Mark said.

The 10 spacious Ensuite sites offer personal shower, toilet and hand basin. You have the key so you can leave your toiletries in the ensuite for the duration of your stay, Mark Walsh says. All our ensuite sites are drive-through, spacious and have power, water and sullage for your caravan or motorhome, camper trailer or tent.

They are popular with guests who want to be close to amenities, they have more privacy and are ideal for families with children, Mark Walsh said.

One of 10 Ensuite sites at Opal Caravan Park Lightning Ridge NSW.
One of 10 Ensuite sites at Opal Caravan Park Lightning Ridge NSW.

Powered Ensuite sites are $45 a double, powered sites $35 and Unpowered sites $27.

The cabins all with ensuite, suit couples and families alike at $130 a double for two bedrooms and $110 a double for Ensuite and disabled cabins. All our cabins have all linen supplied, flat screen TV, and split system air-conditioning. The kitchens are complete with microwave, stove top, cutlery, crockery and glassware as well as good range of utensils and cooking equipment, Mark Walsh said.

Opal Caravan Park Lightning Ridge has Doggie Daycare, he says. As many local attractions do not permit pets, as they are underground, we have a day care centre for pooches. Just ask at the reception about availability in the three private yards and your pet will be looked after while you go on your adventures, Mark Walsh said.

The Car-Wash Bay facility at Opal Caravan Park is a necessity not many caravan parks offer. It is large enough to wash caravans as well.

Lightning Ridge offers four Car Door Tours Green, Blue, Yellow and Red. They are all self-drive tours branching out at each corner of Lightning Ridge. They are all designed to cover the major attractions. Each tour is about 20min in driving time; however, you can spend a few hours on each exploring the attractions.

Clean, spacious amenities Opal Caravan Park Lightning Ridge NSW.
Clean, spacious amenities Opal Caravan Park Lightning Ridge NSW.

The attractions vary greatly from a castle to the glorious Outback sunset. In between these attractions lie Bevans Cactus Nursery (The largest cactus nursery in the southern hemisphere), as well as an old church that was once built for a movie and an Open Cut (A giant hole where opal was once mined).

A $1 sheet can be bought from the Information Centre, which explains where to turn and what you are looking at.

Though the Car Door Tours are all on gravel roads, they are always open and easy to navigate.

A 'MUST SEE' at Lightning Ridge is the Chambers of the Black Hand. Take a fully guided tour with experienced miners, down into the 100 year old working mine and see the unique carvings and sculptures created by local artist Ron Canlin. Delving deeper into the mine learn about the famous black opal and how it is mined and why it can only be found in Lightning Ridge.

A visit to the three pubs in the middle of the Grawin Opal Fields is another great day out.

The sheepyard Inn; Grawin Club in the Scrub and the Glengarry Hilton are all worth a visit for a cold drink or a meal. These three pubs were all built during the Opal Rush. All the pubs are still working pubs.

Fred Bodels Camp Lighting Ridge.
Fred Bodels Camp Lighting Ridge.

These areas are still being mined so don't venture too far off the beaten track. Opal Caravan Park recommends using a 4x4, as the road is unsealed and rough.

Grawin was established in 1908 with the discovery of opal at Hammonds Hill, but it wasn't until the 1970's that it became a major field in its own right. It was at Grawin that the 'Light of the World' opal was found in 1928.

Fine named gem opals from Lightning Ridge include: Red Flamingo (1914), Queen of Alexander (1918), Harlequin Flame (1919), Grawin Queen (1926), Sunset Queen (1928), Light of the World (1928), Pandora (1928), Queen of Australia (1931), and Rainbow Stone (1933).

The Aurora Australis was found in 1938 at Lightning Ridge and is considered the world's most valuable black opal.

The oval, cut and polished stone has a harlequin pattern with dominant red, green and blue colors against a black background. It weighs 180 cts. The rarity of the opal comes from its size and strong, vibrant colour play.

Dug from an old sea-bed it has the distinctive impression of a star fish on its back. It was valued at AUD$1,000,000 in 2005. (Source Opals Down Under www.opalsdownunder.com.au)

Since the first discovery of opal in the region, people have come and gone in tides with each new strike seeking their fortune in search of Australia's national gem stone.

Spacious Camp Kitchen with free everything.
Spacious Camp Kitchen with free everything.

Grawin Opal Miners Sports Recreation Club Limited Grawin Club in the Scrub was started in the mid 1970's after a few of the miners and their families got together in protest after the pub up the road put their prices of beer up during a flood, (as they had to fly the beer in, but didn't lower the prices when the road cleared).

The Club has been built by volunteer labour; the main material is cypress pine (as white ants don't like it). It wasn't until Jan 17, 1990 that the club became a registered club with a club liquor license. Up until then, police would come out and do a raid a few times of the year. It is one of the few clubs left in NSW that has no form of gambling - i.e. no poker machines, keno or tab.

The club survives from sales across the bar, donations of money and goods from members. There are also dedicated volunteers who assist with bar work and working bees.

The Club can boast that it has a member in every state and territory of Australia. Also it's a great opportunity to buy Opal straight from the miner at field prices. Just enquire at the Club in the Scrub bar.

Lightning Ridge is in north-western New South Wales, Australia, in Walgett Shire, near the southern border of Queensland, about six kilometres east of the Castlereagh Highway, and is served in commercial activities by the town of Walgett some 75 km to the south. Lightning Ridge is a flourishing tourist town.

Campers Opal Caravan Park Lightning Ridge
Campers Opal Caravan Park Lightning Ridge

Lunatic Hill Open Cut Lightning Ridge.
Lunatic Hill Open Cut Lightning Ridge.
Opal Caravan Park entrance Lightning Ridge, NSW.
Opal Caravan Park entrance Lightning Ridge, NSW.
Queen bed cabin comfort Opal Caravan Park Lightning Ridge NSW.

Free artesian pools Lightning Ridge NSW.
Free artesian pools Lightning Ridge NSW.

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