After leaving Sydney we headed north-ish…I say Northish because we really had no idea where we were going. We hardly plan anything these days and just go with the flow of the weather and how we are feeling on the day. So to be honest, we really didn’t know where we were headed.
Upon leaving we were driving towards Tamworth, we didn’t know what to expect as we had never been inland of New South Wales before. On our way to Tamworth, we already knew that we had made the right call as the scenery was forever changing and the ruggedness was rich and earthy.
It was a real treat.
There was something about Tamworth that we really loved, I think this is all started when we visited the AELEC (Australian Equine and Livestock Centre).
We had only stopped here for a visit to see what a horse sale was like and we were greeted with many cowboys and cowgirls wearing all the gear that we had never seen before. This was a complete sea change for us and felt like we had stepped into a scene from ‘The Man From Snowy River.
On that day we looked liked complete outsiders with our thongs, singlets and caps but everyone smiled and we had a great time.
Striking It Rich Near Tamworth……..?
When arriving in Tamworth we first recommend visiting the information centre, this you cannot miss as there is also a large guitar right next door. An iconic photo in front is a must!
****At the Information Bay ask for a map to visit Nundle and Tamworth. This will be very helpful if you wish to pan for gold and explore the surrounding towns of Tamworth as we did.
We grabbed our map and headed to Nundle for some gold prospecting, we had no idea what we were doing and had never panned for gold in our life. But hey we kept the positive vibes strong and hopes were…. well …. hopeful.
When arriving in Nundle you will need to visit the Mount Misery Gold Mine Cafe to hire out a panning kit. The cost is $70 with $50 upon return, so all up it is $20 per day. If you have never used this kit before I suggest watching a Youtube video about it. Otherwise, it may be a wonder luck day of not quite knowing how to find those golden flakes.
When hiring out your equipment you will be given some tips on where you can pan and fossick. We drove all the way to the end of the river banks. This is where we were able to set up a picnic lunch and the kids also had a swim in the lake while we were searching for our retirement funds.
Did we strike it rich? No. The kids were bored after an hour and we headed to our next destination the Woolen Mill. Many many travellers have found very small pieces of gold, so if you know how to pan you are already one step ahead of the game. Don’t be discouraged by our story as there is still gold left to be found.
After we didn’t strike it rich in Nundle, this sparked our interest in the treasures that live underground. Our next stop was opal town, the famous Lightning Ridge. This town is also famous for appearing on the TV show Opal Hunters, another show that our kiddos love to watch!
We drove 300 kilometres from Tamworth, arrived here in March and the town was empty, the shops were shut and we thought we had entered a ghost town. Little did we know that Lightning Ridge is a seasonal town. The best time to visit is between the months of April-October.
What To Do In Lightning Ridge-
Opal Mine Tour
The Opal Mine Tour is one of the best tours to take when in Lightning Ridge. Upon arrival, you are given hard hats and then you can walk underground to see an old mine where opal trails were discovered. Here you can watch documentaries and learn so much history about the opal rush and the town of Lightning Ridge.
Car Door Tour
Lightning Ridge is well known for the car door tour, you will only know about the four tours if you visit the Information Centre and grab a map which explains what each coloured car door that is placed on the side of the road means.
There are four different tours that take you around the town and the best part is that they are all FREE.
Accommodation- The accommodation we chose was Lightning Ridge Outback Resort and Caravan Park. Gravel sites and a pool is what the caravan park offered which suited us fine and was close to the town.
We may not have struck it rich but we feel rich from the memories that each town and experience gave us. There is plenty to learn from each tour and town that we would happily go back and do it all again.
We highly recommend exploring outback New South Wales.
Don’t know where to go next? Check out the Blue Mountains
Kylie and Dan