Day 15, 24/5/2016, Lightning Ridge, Cold
It got down to 5 degrees overnight and I had packed the winter Doona away yesterday, bugger!
There’s a shop in town called Mr Cheap and he advertises that he sells everything that a caravanner needs so we put him to the test. Just when we thought that we couldn’t find anything we realised that we needed solar lights for our tent pegs. Now where have I seen those lights recently? That’s right, the Bourke cemetery. Funny, Mr Cheap sells artificial flowers too.
Four of our club mates arrive after having stayed at Darlington Point. This is starting to feel like another muster.
Two streets from our park is one of the famous lightning Ridge Car Door Tours, the Red one. We leave the bitumen again following red car doors hung from trees to explore the town’s minefields and ‘minefield’ is an appropriate description. Because people live on mining leases their houses are as basic as possible. By order of law the land should only be used for mining not housing. The hillsides are littered with ramshackle dwellings, decaying caravans, tram cars, corrugated iron shanties and mullock heaps with rusting bucket structures atop that look like roller coasters, which denote mine shafts. You would not want to stagger home drunk. The streets are mere tracks, sometimes delineated with rocks.
Of course some folk have flaunted the law and built attractive homes like the one known as The Black Queen from beer bottles and cans.
The piece de resistance is Amigo’s Castle. Built by Stefano (Amigo) Vittorio it is a replica of the ruins that he played in as a child in Italy. Using unwanted ironstone boulders Amigo started building his home in 1981 and it took him twenty years. Of course, it was an illegal dwelling and when the government threatened to destroy it the locals banded together and fought to get it heritage listed. Amigo didn’t use standard scaffolding for his castle he just perched timber on 44gallon drums. That must have been quite a feat.
A little further along we found that a guy had built an astronomer’s monument from concrete. The Red Car Door tour is a corker and jubilantly we take the Green Car Door Tour and bump across rough ironstone roads. This is where the town got its name as lightning is attracted to the ironstone. The so-called sights had us scratching our heads and wondering which tree was the native orange tree. The approximate location of the first mine was a hole in the ground like all the rest and when we did see the best attraction, we paid it no attention. What was it? A house built of beer cans we’re told.
Ah, just give us hot mineral baths and laughter any day.
Towing Kms: 0