Fossil Digs 

Lightning Ridge Fossil Dig
26 - 31 August and
2 - 7 September 2019

Searching for opalised fossils is a privilege usually available only to opal miners and scientists. For the opportunity to share these incredible moments of discovery, join the Australian Opal Centre and Australian Geographic Society searching for fossils on the Lightning Ridge opal fields.

100 million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the lands around a great Australian inland sea. Giant sauropods, ferocious theropods and diminutive ornithopods shared this world with everything from crocodiles and turtles to tiny mammals, yabbies and snails. Lightning Ridge, once a forested plain near this ancient sea, is famed for dazzling opal and as the premier dinosaur fossil site in NSW.

Six days packed with discovery
Our team of fossil experts will take you to special locations seeking new opalised fossils for the Australian Opal Centre’s globally significant collection. Your discoveries will contribute to a world-class scientific and cultural resource. 

  • Learn about opalised fossils and Australia in the Age of Dinosaurs

  • Learn to distinguish fossils from geological specimens

  • Search for opalised plant and animal fossils at special sites

  • Experience the excitement of a tailout - moment of truth for the opal miner!

  • Collect and process fossil-rich claystones

  • Mend, reassemble or prepare fossils

  • Learn techniques for casting and moulding

  • Attend fascinating lectures on opals, opal mining, opalised fossils and dinosaur hunting

  • Experience an underground opal mine

Contribute to science, seize rare opportunities, make lasting friendships and enjoy the extraordinary sights, sounds and hospitality of the opal fields.

Anyone 18 years and over is eligible to participate in a Fossil Dig; no experience is required. There is a maximum of 40 places available only (two separate groups of 20 volunteers). 

WEEK 1: Monday 26th to Saturday 31st August 2019
WEEK 2: Monday 2nd to Saturday 7th September 2019
Note: Week 2 is available for return participants only 

The incredible outback opal mining town of Lightning Ridge, Australia. 

Your guides
Dig participants will be led and guided by:

  • Dr Phil Bell, a dinosaur specialist at the University of New England. Phil has uncovered and studied dinosaurs around the globe including in Argentina, Canada, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.

  • Dr Elizabeth Smith, a palaeontologist, artist, author and authority on Lightning Ridge fossils.

  • Jenni Brammall, Australian Opal Centre manager and a palaeontologist, gemmologist and designer.

  • Dr Nic Campione, a Canadian palaeontologist now at the University of New England.

  • Clytie Smith and Cybele Sousa de Lemos, super fossil finders.

  • Other great team members.

$2,200 per person (incl. GST); return digger $1,980
Price includes all activities and most meals, however excludes accommodation and transport. This is a science and fundraising venture for the Australian Opal Centre and Australian Geographic Society. 

Secure your place
Don't miss out! Complete and send in your registration form and deposit; participants will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. 

To find out more, please email or call Jenni Brammall on 0427 904 587.