What’s it all about?
The Australian Opal Centre is an extraordinary national museum being developed in Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia, to preserve, display and research the greatest ever public collection of Australian opal, opalised fossils and the colourful history and heritage of the Australian opal fields. Alongside breathtaking permanent exhibitions will be a stunning opal vault containing the finest and rarest of opals, facilities for teaching opal cutting, carving and jewellery making. There will be a research laboratory and library, curatorial facilities, meeting and teaching spaces, a cinema and café, a gallery for exhibitions and performances and an incredible underground Gondwanan garden of plants whose ancestors lived in the time of the dinosaurs. The Centre will make an unprecedented contribution to increasing awareness about opal, opal mining and the opal fields as a source of rare fossils of international significance. It will be a dynamic hub for tourism, education and commerce. The Australian Opal Centre began as Lightning Ridge Opal and Fossil Centre in the late 1990s. As the project grew, its national significance became evident and in 2007, it was renamed the Australian Opal Centre.
Today, the Centre has the world’s leading collection of opalised fossils and is building a magnificent collection of precious opal, cultural artifacts, artworks, photographs, archival and research materials. The Centre participates and takes a leading role in local and – increasingly – regional or national tourism, heritage, opal and community development projects. It runs public events for residents and visitors, an annual fossil dig, as well as education, learning and cultural programs.
A 3.1 hectare site has been secured on Lightning Ridge’s historic Three Mile opal field. In July 2008, development approval was obtained for the site and in 2013, the site was prepared and excavated to house an energy-efficient underground building that will generate its own power, collect and recycle its own water and – despite its subterranean location – be filled with natural light and fresh air. The new AOC is being by a remarkable design team headed up renowned architects Glenn Murcutt and Wendy Lewin.
In 2008, The Centre’s refurbished showroom in Lightning Ridge was opened to the public by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, Governor of NSW and acting Governor General of Australia. The showroom showcases some of the Centre’s collection of opalised fossils, provides information about opal and opal mining, displays information about the exciting plans for the future Australian Opal Centre and contains a small shop, from which all proceeds go to the Australian Opal Centre. LROFC Inc is a not-for-profit organisation established to develop and manage the Centre, supported by Walgett Shire Council. Find out how you can become involved with the Australian Opal Centre, or please enjoy browsing through our web site to learn more about opal, opalised fossils, opal mining, the Australian Opal Centre building, Lightning Ridge and more.