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Lightning Ridge Opal Centre – an international drawcard for the outback

An impression of the new Australian Opal Centre, on Yuwaalaraay country, Lightning Ridge, when completed. Illustration ©Darcstudio

The NSW Outback will become a tourism mecca with plans for a state-of-the-art Australian Opal Centre at Lightning Ridge firmly in place and tenders going out for construction.

CEO of the Opal Centre Jenni Brammall said excitement was building across the region, with construction planned to commence within months after decades of fundraising and planning.

The Opal Centre began as a community project in Lightning Ridge, with millions of dollars invested by the community and local government before the NSW and Australian governments jumped on board to support the concept.

Now, the new Opal Centre is about to become reality and Ms Brammall said it would boost the visitor economy in Walgett Shire, inland NSW and Australian opal localities stretching from Coober Pedy in South Australia to Eromanga and Winton in Queensland, down to White Cliffs and Lightning Ridge, the geographic ‘jewel in the crown’.

“It’s taken years to get everything in place for the new building to go ahead. I know the community is keen to see trucks on site and concrete being poured, to know it’s becoming reality,” Ms Brammall said.

“As well as the Opal Centre itself, there are opportunities for more accommodation, dining options and service provision for the expected influx of visitors. We need to see other businesses developing to make the most of this great opportunity for Walgett Shire, including opportunities for Indigenous engagement and employment.

“Tenders have been called and the process is under way. All being well, we will appoint a builder during April, with plans for opening next year. The build will be a fast process and timing has to be negotiated with the head contractor, but we look forward to announcing an opening date for next year.

“The Australian Opal Centre will attract people not only here to Yuwaalaraay country but also elsewhere in the state’s northwest and west, where there are many wonderful attractions and assets in places like Brewarrina, Bourke, Cobar, Wilcannia, and Broken Hill. It will draw people from Victoria in the south, South Australia in the west, Queensland in the north and across NSW. Everywhere that people pass through on those routes will have an opportunity to benefit,” she said. […]

Read more in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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