White Cliffs is first and foremost an opal town. The first mining lease was granted in 1890, and a boom followed with an influx of 4500 people. The area is still known for its opals, particularly the unique opal 'pineapples' and the opalised remains of a plesiosaur, a 2-metre-long 100-million-year-old fossil found in 1976. The intense heat has forced many people to build underground, often in the remains of old opal mines. The buildings left on the surface are surrounded by a pale and eerie moonscape with an estimated 50 000 abandoned opal digs.
White Cliffs General Store, Keraro Rd; (08) 8091 6611.
Nearby national parks
Solar Power Station The country's 1st solar power station was established by the Australian National University in 1981 at White Cliffs because it receives the most solar radiation in NSW. The row of 14 giant mirrored dishes is a striking sight between the blue sky and red earth. Next to council depot.
Outback Treasures: opal jewellery and Aboriginal art; Smiths Hill.
Jock's Place: dugout home and museum with an opal seam along one wall; Turleys Hill.
Wellington's Underground Art Gallery: paintings and polished opals by local artist; The Blocks.
Otto Photography: gallery of outback landscape photos; Smiths Hill.
Self-guide and guided historical walks and fossicking: include the old police station (1897) and school (1900) and several fossicking sites; brochures and maps from visitor centre.
Underground accommodation: various standards available in dugout premises. Underground temperatures come as a relief at 22°C; details from visitor centre.
Opal shops: several in town sell local gems; details from visitor centre.
Paroo–Darling National Park: section 20 km E of town contains magnificent Peery Lake, part of the Paroo River overflow, where there is birdlife, Aboriginal cultural sites and walking trails. Southern section of park has camping along the Darling River.
Wilcannia: small town with many fine sandstone buildings, an opening bridge across the Darling River and an old paddlesteamer wharf. Also a self-guide historical walk available; brochure from council offices in Reid St; 93 km S.
Mutawintji National Park: 150 km SW; see Broken Hill.
Campsites around town
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Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town
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What's on around town
Ironman Cliffhanger: 4WD challenge; July.