Lunatic Hill Open CutPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by John Huth
The Lunatic Hill Open Cut mine is preserved as a monument to the miners who mined for black opal in Lightning Ridge.


Address:Three Mile Road, Lightning Ridge, 2834
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -29.460686
Long: 147.966802
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Park
Monument Theme:Technology


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 22nd March, 1998
Front Inscription

Sign :

Welcome to Lunatic Hill Open Cut, the largest open cut opal mine in New South Wales and one of the richest sources of precious black opal ever found.

The story of opal mining at Lunatic Hill began in the first decade of the twentieth century.  Mining was concentrated on Three Mile Flat, 250 metres north east of here.  The miners dug by hand and hauled dirt to the surface in buckets.  It was tremendously hard work.  

Then a few foolhardy souls decided to try their luck here on the hill.  The talk was that "only lunatics would go up there" - where, to reach opal-producing level, a man had to dig three times as deep as he would on the Flat.

But for some, the move paid off beyond their wildest dreams.  Soon the skyline was crowded with silhouettes of mullock heaps and windlasses.  Imagine this area one hundred years ago, with hundreds of miners working and living in the vicinity and storekeepers doing a brisk trade in the village of Nettleton, down on Three Mile Flat.

Author Ion Indriess mined at Lunatic Hill in 1909 - 1910.  His book Lightning Ridge is a colourful account of mining and life in the heyday of the Three Mile.  Famous claims such as Pines, Scott`s, Deadman`s, BNA, Revolver, P & O Jack`s, Matt Watson`s, Turner & Sons and Leaning Tree produced a fortune in gem-quality black opal.

By the 1960s, the heavily mined ridge was becoming to dangerous for underground mining - but miners knew the untold riches remained to be found.  Open cut mining commenced and has continued intermittently since then.

In 1986, a Lunatic Hill syndicate mined Halley`s Comet, the largest black opal nobby on record.  At the time it was valued at $6 million.

Today, Lunatic Hill Open Cut is preserved as a unique part of Australia`s opal mining heritage.  It is a monument to the old timers, and to the incredible human effort expended in the pursuit of black opal.


Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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