This is a pioneer’s opal town of genuine eccentric character not too far from Broken Hill.
White Cliffs was born through the discovery of opal in the 1890’s and is a pioneering town with genuine character.
To escape the summer heat, houses are built underground in mine shafts, where the temperature is a constant 23 degrees. The sun does have its uses – much of the town’ electrical power now comes from a massive solar generation plant. Fourteen parabolic multifaceted mirrors concentrate the heat of the sun.
Kangaroo shooters first found the fiery white crystal opals on the ground in 1889 and a year later the rush was on. By the turn of the century about 4000 people were digging and sifting for treasure, creating the lunar landscape that remains. There are more than 50,000 abandoned mineshafts, and the ground looks as if it is covered with anthills.
Take this opportunity to stay the night underground. It’s a fantastic unforgettable experience. Be sure to take the heritage trail and try your luck noodling for opal or potch. Visit Joc of Joc’s Place underground home and mine.
Above ground and below ground accommodation, bed and breakfast, motel, hotel, caravan park and camping sites.
Petrol and diesel, meals and refreshments, sealed airstrip and avgas are all available.
Once home to over 4000 hardy souls, White Cliffs offers visitors a glimpse of the tough early days of opal mining. Tour through dugout homes, opal showrooms and the historic opal fields which create a lunar landscape effect. Visit the photographic gallery, have a drink at the local hotel, have a go at the dirt golf course or just enjoy the unique atmosphere of White Cliffs. FOr further options you could combine a visit to Mutawintji or Paroo-Darling National Parks.
The Romance of Opal
Shakespeare called opal the ‘queen of gems’. The Roman historian, pliny wrote that opal had the fire of the carbuncle, the brilliant purple of the amethyst and the sea- green colour of the emerald, all shining together in incredible union.
The Romans considered opal a symbol of hope – a gem with a rainbow locked inside it. The Arabs
loved opal, and believed the gemstone fell from heaven in flashes of lightning.
Opal is an October birthstone. The famous French actress, Sarah Bernhardt, born in October, never considered herself well-dressed unless she was wearing opals.
The Science of Opal
The opal phenomenon is called ‘play of colour’. It is caused by the diffraction of light set up by the layers of silica spheres in its composition.
Activites and Experiences at White Cliffs
- Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale
- Public Bar
- National Park
- Post Office
- Public Telephone
- Takeaway Food
Nearest Airport: Broken Hill