This is a great day out visiting the three pubs in the middle of the Grawin Opal Fields - The Sheepyard Inn, Grawin Club in the Scrub and the Glengarry Hilton are all worth a visit for a cold drink or a meal. These three pubs were all built around the time the Opal Rush was on, as they had to try and accomodate all the miners that were mining out there during the rush. All the pubs are still working pubs and you'll always find a few locals out there ready for a chat.
These areas are still being mined so don't venture too far off the beaten track. We recommend using a 4x4, as the road is unsealed and rough. Many guests have come back from their day trip out to the 'Three pubs in the Scrub' saying it was an experience they will NEVER FORGET! "It's like a different world out there"
Grawin was established in 1908 with the discovery of opal at Hammonds Hill, but it wasn't until the 1970's that it became a major field in its own right. It was at Grawin that the largest opal 'Light of the World' was found in 1928 .
Since the first discovery of opal in the region, people have come and gone in tides with each new strike seeking their fortune in search of Australia's national gem stone.
Grawin Opal Miners Sports & Recreation Club Limited - "Grawin Club in the Scrub" was started in the mid 1970's after a few of the miners and their families got together in protest after the pub up the road put their prices of beer up during a flood, (as they had to fly the beer in, but didn't lower the prices when the road cleared ).
The Club has been built by volunteer labour, the main material is cypress pine(as white ants don't like it). It wasn't until 17/01/1990 that the club became a registered club with a club liquor licence. Up until then, police would come out and do a raid a f ew times of the year. It is one of the few clubs left in NSW that has no form of gambling - i.e. no poker machines, keno or tab. The club survives from sales across the bar, donations of money and goods from members. As well we have dedicated volunteers who come assist with doing bar work and working bees .
We can boast that we have a member in every state and territory of Australia.
Also it's a great opportunity to buy Opal straight from the miner at field prices, is always possible. Just enquire at the Club in the Scrub bar.
We hope you visit the Club in the Scrub!
For some history on the pubs, check out our page A Bit of History.
Only 45min north of Lightning Ridge, just over the border, is the small but quaint town of Hebel. Hebel has two main attractions. One being The Hebel Hotel and the other being the Hebel General Store.
The Hebel Hotel was originally a Cobb & Co. stopover, which opened in 1894. This great old pub has a colourful past and is a 'must see'. Perch on a stool in the bar for a coldie and soak up the atmosphere. Say hello to Chris, the liscensee.
Across the road is the Hebel General Store, which is as old as the pub. It incorporates two buildings, one the original store and the now disused dance hall. Check out how uneven the floor is in the shop! Barb and Ralph operate the Hebel Store 7 days a week. They have great coffee and home made meals ranging from pies to sweets and everything in between. Their Woolpack Licensed Restaurant has great steaks and great service!
Visit the near ghost town of Angledool! Only 50kms from the Opal Caravan Park via the Castlereagh Highway, or turn right outside the park and go via the dirt road (Dry weather road only). Angledool in the late 1800's was a privately owned town. The Police Station operated from 1882 - 1961 before it moved to Lightning Ridge.
There were 62 Chinese living in the area that were responsible for rind barking trees, weir building and supplying the town with fresh fruit and vegetables. In its hey day there was a Post Office, 2 Stores, a Primary School, 2 Churches, 2 Hotels, an Aboriginal Reserve and a Racecourse. Swimming lessons were held in the Narren River!
The Town Hall Picture Theatre was built in 1903 and is one of the few remaining buildings. You can also incorporate a visit to Angledool with having lunch at Hebel!
My Own Boss is an absolutely stunning booklet on the history and background of the Lightning Ridge migrant opal miners.
Published by the NSW Migration Heritage Centre in partnership with the Lightning Ridge Historical Society (next to the Crocodile Caravan Park) and written by the wonderful Barbara Moritz and Stephen Thompson.
This amazing read tells of the success and struggles of the opal miners starting back in the 1900's. It also describes how the opal mining idustry has come to evolve into what it is today.
It was a great pleasure to read and is highly recommended to all who want to know more about Lightning Ridge and its history with opal mining, muticultural miners or just curious about how opal mining came to be. 10/10
Lightning Ridge is the only place in the world where the exquisite black opal is mined in quantity and sold in the rough. People have come from around the world to find their fortunes in this outback town.
Buy your souvenir booklet My Own Boss: Migrant Opal Miners At Lightning Ridge published by the NSW Migration Heritage Centre in partnership with the Lightning Ridge Historical Society and written by Barbara Moritz and Stephen Thompson