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Geodiversity of the lightning ridge area and implications for Geotourism

  • Year: 2011
  • Author: Meakin, Simone
  • Journal Name: Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales
  • Journal Number: Vol. 132
  • Country: Australia
  • State/Region: New South Wales

The Lightning Ridge region displays rich geodiversity. Though best known for its valuable black opal, it is also world-renowned for yielding a diversity of opalised fossils, including invertebrates, reptiles, dinosaurs and some of the earliest known monotreme mammals. Cenozoic silcrete preserves impressions of fossil plants in great detail at several sites. At Cuddie Springs, 100 km SSW of Lightning Ridge, remains of extinct Pleistocene megafauna are found in association with Aboriginal tools. Numerous Aboriginal sites are also scattered around the ridges and along waterways. Over 100 years of mostly small-scale opal mining at Lightning Ridge is evidenced by historic workings and equipment that are unique to this area or rarely seen elsewhere. This valuable record of geoheritage is of interest to tourists, historians, scientists and artists. Geotourism is intimately linked with opal-mining and is a growing source of income to the region, on par with documented sales of opal itself. Managing such a diverse region presents a challenge, as diverse stakeholders can have conflicting objectives. Tourism has the potential to unite stakeholders and ensure the prosperity of the region long after the opal resources are exhausted. A whole-of-government approach is vital in ensuring sustainable development and prosperity of the region.

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