Lightning Ridge Car Door Tours, Outback NSW

🚗 GUIDE to Car Door Tours in Lightning Ridge, NSW

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The Car Door Tours of Lightning Ridge have become one of the most popular attractions for travellers visiting the opal mining community.

If you’re planning a trip to Lightning Ridge in Outback NSW, the best way to really explore the area is by doing the well-known Car Door Tours.

The Lightning Ridge Car Door Tours are a self-guided experience, which doesn’t need to cost you anything besides fuel for your car and the two $1 maps. Having two days to explore all of the Lightning Ridge Car Door Tours is ideal, as the Orange Car Door Tour is more of a day trip into the opal fields with a few pubs on offer for lunch.

But that’s certainly not all that Lightning Ridge has to offer. In fact it’s a fantastically quirky town which will have you constantly turning your head as you try to take it all in. John Murray is a local and very talented artist. You’ll see evidence of his colourful work spotted all throughout Lightning Ridge, so keep your eyes peeled! I can’t recommend highly enough that you also go and check out his Gallery in town, it’s fantastic.

You may also be aware that Lightning Ridge sits on top of the Great Artesian Basin. Just on the outskirts of town you’ll find two Artesian Bore Baths. One is notably hotter than the other, sitting at around 40℃. Entry is open to everyone and free of charge.

Read on to delve into more in-depth information on the Car Door Tours, John Murray Art and the Artesian Bore Baths.

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Lighting Ridge Car Door Tours

The first thing you’ll want to do is to head to the Lightning Ridge Visitor Information Centre and purchase your maps. The well-informed staff behind the counter will give you all of the information you need, plus the run-down on how the tours work.

You will literally find yourself following a string of old car doors with numbers on them. Each number corresponds to a point of interest on your map, which will include further details. These are all self-guided driving tours, although there is a small bus in town that takes people on a set tour if that’s more your style.

There are five Car Door Tours in total.

CAR DOOR TOURS – Drive Time (without stopping)
🟢 Green30 minutes
🟡 Yellow45 minutes
🔵 Blue20 minutes
🔴 Red20 minutes
🟠 Orange50 minutes (one way)

We recommend doing the four smaller tours (Green, Yellow, Blue and Red) across one day. As the Orange Tour is a 57km drive out of Lightning Ridge, it’s recommended as a separate day tour.

Below you’ll find a breakdown of each tour: the drive time, highlights and prices of additional attractions along the way.

🟢 GREEN Car Door Tour

GREEN Car Door Tour Drive Time:

  • 30 minutes
  • Unsealed road, only drive when its dry
Nebia HillGravel pit that supplies the district, including Petrified Wood, Jasper, Quartz, Agates, Carnelian and Clear Topaz
Wild Orange Tree• 25m root system
• Some miners use them as surface indicators of where to dig
Opal Tree• Tree covered in opal (hand crafted)

Make visiting Richard and the Opal Tree a must on the Green Car Door Tour! He’s a very quirky man with fascinating stories behind his Opal Tree and other creative pieces
Nettleton’s First Shaft LookoutInformative Monument
Stone LabyrinthMade by four people in six hours
Beer Can House• Unique structure
• You can sign the Guest Book in the fridge inside

GREEN Car Door Tour Photos:

Richard, Green Car Door Tour, Lightning Ridge NSW
Chatting to ‘Richard’ on the Green Car Door Tour
Richard, Green Car Door Tour, Lightning RIdge NSW
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🟡 YELLOW Car Door Tour

YELLOW Car Door Tour Drive Time:

  • 45 minutes
  • Unsealed road
Big Opal Mine• Self-guided Mine Tour
• Jewellery store

Tour Costs:
– Adult $20
– Child $5
– Family $50

Opening Hours:
9am – 4pm (7 days)
Miners CottagesMade of stone from an earlier era
Sandstone Art GalleryKeep an eye out to see if it’s ‘Open’
Chambers of the Black Hand• Fantastic carvings on the walls of an old mine
• Many people reckon this is the BEST tour in Lightning Ridge!

Tour Costs:
– Adult $40
– Child $10

Opening Hours:
9.30 am – 12.30 pm & 3pm – 5pm
Australian Opal Centre (AOC)2-storey-in-the-ground building
Abandoned Mine ShaftsSee them spotted around everywhere with fences around them
Black Opal Heritage ShedAssociated with the AOC
Old Chum’s TrackA walk that goes through the opal fields to the heritage precinct of Nettleton (the second settlement on the diggings)
Graveyard of Rusty TreasuresAn assortment of vintage trucks and cars
Lunatic Lookout• Check out the surrounding sights and air vents that go down to the mines
• Site of the world’s largest black opal nobody ever found, called “Halley’s Comet”
Movie SetThe corrugated iron church was purpose-built for the movie The Goddess of 1967, which was filmed in 2000
Stanley the EmuAt the Castlereagh Highway, turn left until you see 18 m tall “Stanley the Emu,” constructed out of recycled materials.

YELLOW Car Door Tour Photos:

Old Church, Car Door Tour, Lightning Ridge NSW
Old Church Movie Set
Dunny, Lightning Ridge NSW
The Big Opal, Car Door Tour, Lightning Ridge NSW
Map of Australia Sticker
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🔵 BLUE Car Door Tour

BLUE Car Door Tour Drive Time:

  • 20 minutes
  • Unsealed road
Opal Mine AdventureWalk-in Mine Tour

Tour Prices:
– Adult $20
– Child $8
– Family $50

Opening Hours:
9am – 5pm (7 days)
Bevan’s Cactus Gardens• Over 2,500 cactus varieties
• 48 Bougainvillaea varieties
• Large Black Opal collection

– Adult $10
– Child FREE

Opening Hours:
9am – 5pm (7 days)
Opal Mine FieldsThese areas are known as “the suburbs”

BLUE Car Door Tour Photos:

Blue Car Door Tour, Lightning Ridge NSW
Opal Mine Tour, Lightning Ridge QLD
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🔴 RED Car Door Tour

RED Car Door Tour Drive Time:

  • 20 minutes
  • Unsealed road
The PlaqueSharing information on the first settlement in 1906 called Wallangulla or Old Town, which is where the first Opal Rush boomed
Stone & Bottle HouseAn interestingly constructed private home
The Ridge CastleUnique castle nestled in Lighting Ridge
Sim’s HillHighest point in the district (170m above sea level)
KFC Drive-thruAlthough it never seems to be open…
Astronomers MonumentA very cool homemade Observatory
Amigos CastlePrivate home single-handedly built of ironstone

Entry Cost:
– Adult $5
– Child $2.50

Opening Hours:
9am – 4pm (M, T, Th, F, Sat)
Len Cram ParkHonouring the local opal specialist and author
Kangaroo Hill Complex• Chat with a lady who used to be a miner
• Gifts & souvenirs available

Entry Cost:
– Adult $5
– Child 50c

Opening Hours:
10am – 4pm (Mon – Sat)
Bottle HouseHouse made of bottles and filled with collectables

Entry Cost:
– Adult $10
– Child $5

RED Car Door Tour Photos:

The Ridge Castle, Lightning Ridge NSW
Castle, Lightning Ridge NSW
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🟠 ORANGE Car Door Tour

This was my favourite of all the Car Door Tours! It wanders through genuine mining communities and original opal field pubs.

Allow a full day to make the most of this tour as it is about 40 minutes drive from Lightning Ridge just to get to the tour turn-off.

We made the most of the experience and had a delicious lunch at the Club in the Scrub. The Glengarry Hilton also serves meals, while the Sheepyard Inn offers pies, roast chickens and loaves of bread.

ORANGE Car Door Tour Drive Time:

  • Day trip from Lightning Ridge
  • The turn-off to the Orange Car Door Tour is 57km out of town
  • This particular tour takes you along unsealed roads, which can be quite corrugated
Club in the Scrub• Fantastic and authentic Miners Sports Bar
• Drinks, meals, historical photos
• Register for a game of golf on the weekend
Stone CastleStarted in 1965, Alex Czinner mined in Lightning Ridge for 45 years
Opal Dirt DumpsGiant dumps of opal dirt, which are known to present surprise pieces. Ask at one of the Pubs before fossicking there, but it’s generally okay.
Glengarry Hilton• The first pub on the Opal Fields
• Grab a drink or a meal and chat with the locals
Sweeny’s Cooperative CraftsOriginally established years ago by the women so that locals had somewhere to sell their creative projects. The non-profit organisation donates proceeds to a range of charities.
Sheepyard InnHave a cold drink and look around at the historical memorabilia. Fresh bread is baked daily in the nearby old train carriage that came from Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.
War MemorialBuilt by miners as many of them are Vietnam Veterans

ORANGE Car Door Tour Photos:

Sheepyard Inn, Lightning Ridge NSW
Orange Car Door Tour, Lightning Ridge NSW
Sheepyard Inn, Lightning Ridge NSW
Orange Car Door Tour, Lightning Ridge NSW
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More Things to Do in Lightning Ridge

John Murray Art

Our first glimpse of John Murray’s kooky artwork was just up the road at the Hebel Hotel. The Outback Pub is covered in colourful windows and doors of comical outback scenes.

As you wander along you’ll have a good chuckle at the ‘Public Bah,’ ‘Lounge Bah’ and the dunnies signed as ‘Man-goes’ and ‘No-Man-Goes.’

When we found out the John Murray in fact resides in Lightning Ridge (our next destination), we penciled in his Art Gallery straight up.

While we could take pics of his cool artworks out the front of the gallery, up the laneways and around town, we weren’t allowed to take photos inside the gallery.

Check out some of the cool pieces we found around the place!

John Murray Art, Lightning Ridge NSW

John Murray Art, Lightning Ridge NSW

Artesian Bore Baths

Artesian Bore Baths, Lightning Ridge NSW

No visit to Lightning Ridge is complete without having a soak in the FREE Artesian Baths. The water, sitting anywhere between 40℃ to 50℃, is actually about 2 million years old! Natural pressure sends the water to the surface through an artesian bore.

Artesian Bore Baths, Lightning Ridge NSW

Like all of the artesian waters, this one promises to be just as revitalising and healing for ailments such as arthritis, sciatica and more. So, whether you’ve had a long day on the road or a hard day amongst the mines, relaxing under the stars in the Artesian Bore Baths is the best way to unwind.

Artesian Bore Baths, Lightning Ridge NSW

During our stay we decided to do just that. The water was incredibly hot that cool evening, but some people managed to submerge themselves into the large pool.

The smaller bath to the side was a little cooler (if that’s the right word to use) and I eventually coached myself in there.

I must say, I kinda had thoughts of what it’d be like to float in a simmering pot of boiling water! Everyone there agreed that the water temperatures that night were higher than usual.

BIG Emu “Stanley”

"Stanley" The Big Emu, Lightning Ridge NSW

For those who are ticking off the BIG Things while travelling, the BIG Emu can be found on the highway, just before turning off into Lightning Ridge.

Feel free to download the full Aussie Big Things Checklist with over 600 items (street addresses included) or grab the NSW one below.

Carinya Station Farm Stay, Lighting Ridge →
NSW Big Things Checklist

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8 thoughts on “🚗 GUIDE to Car Door Tours in Lightning Ridge, NSW”

  1. Loved the John Murray art the most! The blue car door tour sounds like a great one. Amazing trips planned and lots of fun too.

  2. When I have gone to Australia, I have stayed pretty close to the coast (except for a road trip through the wheat belt in WA). The car door tours look like a real kick and lots of fun. I like that they visit a lot of mining related sites although the art is very unique.

    1. The Car Door Tours are heaps of fun if you ever find yourself in Outback NSW. Although Lightning Ridge is a long way from the coast, especially if you’ve only got a limited amount of time in Australia.

  3. As we love cacti, we would do the blue car door tour for sure! But all the other tours seem interesting too, especially since there’s street art and little castles to explore. Let’s hope that we’ll get to travel to the other side of the planet sometime soon!

  4. I have never heard of the car door tour. So it would definitely be on our list if we visit Lightening Ridge. The Yellow Car Door tour sounds like it would have the kind of stops I would like. Good tip about checking for things being open in advance. But I might be frightened off by some of those signs! May spend more time with some of that fun colourful street art.

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