I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published June 12th 2012
Crystal Kingdom is part shop, part museum. Everything is dedicated to rocks and minerals. You can find the attraction on Newell Highway in Coonabarabran, about 700 metres north of the town's CBD. If you're driving in on Coonabarabran Road from the Warrumbungles (and perhaps elsewhere), be aware that some older signs may try to direct you to its previous location outside town.
The museum at Crystal Kingdom is a unique experience. Its collection, called 'Minerals of the Warrumbungles', is entirely dedicated to minerals and fossils found in the Warrumbungles area. It was the first museum in Australia to be dedicated to a single location and is one of the world's most unique one-locality mineral collections. It is a small museum however, consisting of one carpeted room with glass cabinets around each wall. These cases contain more than 500 examples of minerals and fossils found locally. They are set against a mural that covers the entire wall space of this room.
Walking around the room you will find that everything is organised into different periods. The cabinets display rocks and fossils that have been discovered from as far back as 300 million years ago, up to the era of Australia's megafauna. Specimens on display include some very rare (an surprisingly large) fossils of fish and leaves, along with the wold's rarest and most colourful zeolite crystals. There are also unexpected cabinets where you can learn about the two extinct local volcanoes - the Garrawilla volcano and the Warrumbungle volcano. Each rock and mineral type is accompanied by information on its origin and use.
While the Crystal Kingdom museum is specifically dedicated to the local area, on sale in the shop are items from around the world, including the USA, China, Africa and Europe. Here you will find a variety of gemstone jewellery made from opal, sapphire, Baltic amber, topaz, garnet and amethyst. If you're interested making your own jewellery you can also get beads and beading supplies here. There are also crystals, amber and set and unset opals and sapphires. Mineral and fossil specimens from all over the world are also available, often of museum quality.