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Published January 18th 2013
Strike it Rich in an Arty Underground Mine
In the middle of central Australia you will find the outback town of Lightning Ridge, the home of the famous black opal. It is full of everything weird, wacky and eccentric and the Chambers of the Black Hand will certainly fit this category.
Entrance to the chambers of the black hand *copyright Lesley Mitchell
Arriving along a dirt road 2.5 km from central Lightning Ridge you will come to a tin shed which proudly announces that it is the home of the Chambers of the Black Hand.
From the surface is nothing special it just simply looks like another shed brightly painted in amongst myriads of opal diggings.
However book a tour here and you are certain to be surprised and delighted.
Fossicking through the rubble
You will be given a hardhat to wear which becomes quite a necessity in some places where the rock roof is rather low.
Holding a handrail you will then descend down 83 steps into the showroom of the Chambers of the Black Hand opal mine.
As you enter you will be surprised to find a lovely showroom filled with cabinets of beautiful Opal jewellery you can purchase on the day.
Everyone can try to find the elusive black opal
Your tour commences with an experienced miner that will take you through the mine and allow you to see all of the creations. For over 15 years the artist has been carving pictures into the wall and handpainting them and now there are endless rooms filled with unique paintings and carvings.
There is something for everyone from AFL stars through to politicians, the Egyptian room, the Disney superheros, the aboriginal room, the African bush animals and many more.
Unique underground carvings at paintings *copyright Lesley Mitchell
Once you have finished exploring all of the carvings and paintings you come back to the showroom for a complimentary cup of tea or coffee.
You will then be descending further down into the open mine itself. You will see how opals are actually mined and try your luck scavenging through some of the rubble. Everybody has the chance to take a small piece of Opal home from something they can find in the mine itself.
Back up to the showroom for another cup of coffee or tea if you would like, a little more shopping, then you may climb the stairs back up to the entry point and try your luck noodling or fossicking on the Opal diggings - you may even strike it rich and get back to cost of your tour or perhaps even more.
Memories of miners, all hand carved
Tours run twice a day in busy seasons other times by request. A courtesy pick up bus is available free of charge from most locations and accommodations. Entry fees are $30 for adults and $10 for school age children.