Postcards from Lightning Ridge

By Angela Heathcote August 26, 2020
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The first week of the Australian Opal Centre and Australian Geographic fossil dig at Lightning Ridge has unearthed plenty of fossils and opals.

Around 14 dinosaur bones, six yabby buttons, 13 bivalves, two crocodile vertebrae, 18 pine cones and a potential dinosaur tooth is the final fossil count for my first week of the Australian Opal Centre’s annual Lightning Ridge dig. 

Each year, one very lucky person from Australian Geographic joins a cohort of palaeontologists and dinosaur-lovers in the NSW outback opal town of Lightning Ridge, and while I’d heard about all the amazing finds from previous years, I could have hardly imagined I’d be holding 97-million-year-old fossils in my hands. 

Initially, I was absolutely dazzled by colour, holding small bits of potch (common opal), with tiny seams of colour to the sky, but soon had my head buried deep into the tailings offered by the Australian Opal Centre, sourced from the richest fossil sites around Lightning Ridge.

One dig participant was lucky enough to find an ancient crocodile vertebrae fossil. (Image credit: Pat Wiecks)
Specking on the vertical bills, close to the Australian Opal Centre’s processing shed. (Image credit: Pat Wiecks)
And celebrating the successes. (Image credit: Pat Wiecks)

If you’re interested in attending next year’s Lightning Ridge fossil dig with Australian Geographic, contact the Australian Opal Centre here.