Synonymous with opals and mining, it could be said that the Walgett Shire is the gem in the Outback NSW crown, a place where the opals found under the ground are as breathtaking as the sunsets in the sky above.
Comprising the towns of Walgett, Burren Junction, Carinda, Collarenebri, Come By Chance, Lightning Ridge, and Rowena, Walgett Shire has an abundance of unique experiences waiting for visitors. The Walgett Shire serves as the gateway to many of NSW’s prime opal fields, including Grawin, Glengarry and Sheepyard; and it was at Grawin that the famous ‘Light of the World’ opal was discovered in 1928. The Walgett Shire is also renowned for its fertile farming land, popular fishing hub, and rich paddle steamer history.
With eight rivers that snake through the Walgett Shire, whether you’re a fishing enthusiast or not, it would be rude not to throw a line in and hope for a nibble. Locals are quite forthcoming with advice on the best fishing holes, and with yellow-belly and Murray cod known to frequent the river systems, it’s a typically Walgett Shire activity to experience.
If fishing is not your thing, the waterways and surrounding natural environments in Walgett Shire are ideal for relaxing walks and picnics, bird watching and enjoying the spectacular sunsets. You could also get a taste for life in the harsh, relentless outback at one of the remote outback stations that are dotted across the countryside.
Home of the rare black opal and producer of over 95% of Australia’s national gemstone, is Walgett Shire town Lightning Ridge. This unique mining community has been attracting hopeful fossickers and opal-obsessed diehards since the early 1900s when the first opal rush occurred, the evidence of that initial boom and eventuating prosperity still visible in the town today. Visit the famous Big Opal Underground Mine for a first-hand look and tour of the mining facilities, whilst also learning more about these precious gems.
For a relaxing and therapeutic way to wind down after a busy day exploring Walgett Shire, head to one of the artesian bore baths! The water – which remains at a constant temperature of 41.5°C - comes from the Great Artesian Basin, which is approximately two million years old and is one of the largest freshwater basins in the world. There are a number of baths located around the shire, including at Burren Junction, Lightning Ridge and Walgett – and a soak in one will is ideal for taking in the natural minerals and soothing aches and pains.
With the town of Walgett the starting point for the epic Darling River Run, why not consider undertaking it yourself? The journey is a 730 km drive south through the heart of Outback NSW and follows the mighty Darling River as it passes through once bustling port towns including Bourke, Louth and Wilcannia, before finally concluding at Wentworth on the Victorian border. Take in some of Australia’s most stunning scenery and iconic landmarks while completely immersing yourself in a once-in-a-lifetime touring experience.
The Walgett Shire is located in northern NSW.
Driving to the shire from Sydney is a 650km, 7 hour and 40 minute car trip along the Castlereagh Highway; while travel is similar from Brisbane, taking approximately 7 and a half hours via the Newell Highway.
Regional train services also run daily to Walgett via Dubbo from Sydney.
With summer temperatures frequently rising above 40 degrees Celsius, the conditions in the Walgett region can be quite extreme during the hotter months of the year. Expect cool to mild temperatures in autumn and winter, which is a much more agreeable time to visit. Average rainfall is relatively low, but keep in mind that winter rain, despite being light, can last for days.
All townships within the Walgett Shire have at least one grocery store or supermarket that provides the town with produce and supplies. An IGA supermarket can be found in Walgett and Lightning Ridge, while a variety of mini-marts, specialty stores and fresh produce stores can be located in many of the Walgett Shire towns.
You can find RV dump points throughout the Walgett Shire, here are a few of them:
Discover more accommodation options in and around the Walgett Shire.