Lightning Ridge Fossil Dig

By AG STAFF 14 July 2017
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Join us for this Australian Geographic Society Scientific Expedition in August 2017.

LOCATION: The incredible outback opal-mining town of Lightning Ridge, Australia.

 The Australian Opal Centre (AOC) and the Australian Geographic Society. 

 We will be taking two separate groups of 20 volunteers. Each group will have the chance to participate in six days of fieldwork. Afterwards you are welcome to stay on in Lightning Ridge to enjoy the tourist attractions.

WHEN: Group 1: Monday 7 to Saturday 12 August. 
Group 2: Monday 14 to Saturday 19 August

COST: $2,200 per person (incl. GST); return digger $1,980. Includes all activities and many lunches and dinners; excludes accommodation and transport. This is a fundraising venture and all money raised will support the work of the palaeontologists, the AOC and the AGS.

ACCOMMODATION: There are a variety of options at campsites and motels in Lightning Ridge that will suit all budgets.

TRANSPORT: Each volunteer is required to organise their own transport to Lightning Ridge.

BOOKING: Download an 
application form at Complete and send in your registration and deposit; participants will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis.

PAYMENT: $500 deposit is 
required. It is possible to pay the remainder in instalments; enquire for more details.

02 6829 1667 or [email protected]


  • Dr Phil Bell, a palaeontologist and dinosaur specialist at the University of New England. Phil has spent a decade uncovering and studying dinosaurs around the globe, including Argentina, Canada, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan.
  • Dr Elizabeth Smith, a palaeontologist, artist, author and world authority on Lightning Ridge fossils. 
  • Jenni Brammall, a palaeontologist, gemmologist, opal addict and manager of the Australian Opal Centre.

About the expedition

More than 100 million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the land around a great Australian inland sea. Giant sauropods, ferocious theropods and diminutive plant-eaters shared this world with crocodiles, turtles, tiny mammals, yabbies and snails. Lightning Ridge was a floodplain near this ancient sea. Today, ‘The Ridge’ is famous for its opals and fossils – it is NSW’s major dinosaur fossil site and many new discoveries will be made here in the coming years.

Searching for opalised fossils is a privilege usually afforded only to miners and scientists. Now, you can share in the incredible discoveries, because, along with the Australian Opal Cen-tre (AOC), we offer you a chance to hunt for fossils on the opal fields.

We extend an invitation to our readers to join us in this endeavour, pitch in with the fieldwork and perhaps even feature in this journal. For a taste of what to expect, read our story about Lightning Ridge’s incredible opalised fossils in AG issue 125.

Guided by leading experts, you will go to special locations on the opal fields of Lightning Ridge, seeking new specimens for the AOC’s globally significant collection of opalised fossils. Your discoveries will further establish this museum collection as a world-class scientific and cultural resource.

The week will also feature a series of lectures on opals and gems, mining history, opalised fossils, dinosaur hunting and feathered dinosaurs. There may also be a chance to to participate in other Lightning Ridge research, such as surveys for wildlife.