What lies beneath is not just the title of a movie released in 2000 starring Harrison Ford & Michelle Pfeiffer, but could also describe the area around Lightning Ridge. When you see mullock heaps piled around the the entrance of opal mine shifts, giving that 'moonscape' look, it doesn't really relate to the work that is taking place up to 20mtrs below the ground.
And also some of that action, isn't even related to opal mining!
Take for instance the unique art gallery that local miner Ron Canlin has created 11mtrs underground. His carvings into the beautiful cream & pink sandstone will totally aastound you. Not only does he use the the natural stone to maximum advantage, but some of his carvings are beautifully highlighted by judicious use of paint. Then on the next level, another 11mtrs below, Ron has left some of the original diggings in place to give visitors a realistic look into how hard the early miners of this exotic stone toiled. It was in this environment that I was able to use the skills I had learnt earlier in the year on photographing in low light conditions came to the fore & assisted me in capturing the beauty of Rons work, without the colour being washed out by over-use of the flash. His attraction is called 'Chambers Of The Black Hand' & is a must see attraction.
Another insight into life underground can be found on the Outback Opal Tours operation (http://www.outbackopaltours.com.au/ ) in which includes a visit to Lightning Ridges famous Walk In Mine takes visitors on a tour of how opals are mined & the history of opal mining in the district.
Both these guided tours provide outstanding photographic opportunities for all photographers, no matter what your skill level is.