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Lightning Ridge

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Lightning Ridge is a town in north-western New South Wales, Australia, in Walgett Shire, near the southern border of Queensland, about six kilometres east of the Castlereagh Highway, and is served in commercial activities by the town of Walgett, some 75 km to the south. Lightning Ridge is a flourishing tourist town with numerous caravan (camper-trailer) and camping parks, the previously very rustic Diggers' Rest pub and a well-appointed bowling club with its eight artificial-grass bowling greens. Temperatures in summer can reach into the high 40s Celsius, but below ground the temperature remains continually at around 22 degrees, year round. The Lightning Ridge area is a world-renowned centre of the mining of black opals and other opal gemstones. Lightning Ridge has the largest known deposits of black opals in the world. The name Lightning Ridge is said to have originated when in the 1870s some passers by found the bodies of a farmer, his dog and 200 sheep which had been struck by lightning.PopulationIn 2001 it had a population of 1,826, of whom 344 are Indigenous Australians and 1,304 are other Australians. The population is said to be highly variable as transient miners come and go over time. In Lightning Ridge, the most popular industries of employment were Education 4.5%, Accommodation, Cafes and Restaurants 4.1%, Other Mining 4.0%, Community Services 2.7% and Personal and Household Good Retailing 2.5%. Prior to the 2004 Public Enquiry into the functioning of Walgett Shire, it worked on the basis that there were about 7,000 people in the town, but the enquiry found that this estimate was given no support by the 2001 census and contrasted with the 1,109 people who voted in the town at the local government elections in 2004 in the 2011 census the population had increased to 4501 the large increase was due to a dramatic increase in mining and related industries. At the 2006 census, Lightning Ridge had a population of 2,602 people.
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