Located about 70 km from both Lightning Ridge and Walgett in the northern NSW opal fields, Sheepyard Inn is a hotel, store, café, campground, and more all rolled into one. It started life in 1985 and developed into a quirky outback pub before burning down. It was then rebuilt in 2010 and continues to be a unique place to visit.
The inn is open seven days a week and has a free camping area that is suitable for caravans, campervans, and motorhomes as well as tents. There isn’t any power available in the campground and you’ll need to have your own drinking water, but there are free showers, flushing toilets, and a coin-operated washing machine. As there is no charge for camping, your patronage at the inn is appreciated.
All your food and drink requirements are taken care of at Sheepyard Inn. In addition to cold drinks at the bar, you can grab a cappuccino for a caffeine hit. If you’d like something to eat, there are homemade pies and slices on offer, or you can have a full meal in the inn’s train carriage restaurant. If you love pizza, head there on a Friday, as that’s pizza night.
You can also stock up on groceries—including fresh bread that is baked on the premises—as well as ice and gas. And if you’d like a souvenir of your visit, there is merchandise such as caps, shirts, and magnets to choose from. The inn is also the ideal place to find out about the opal fields. Just have a chat with the staff or one of the area’s residents to get some first-hand local knowledge.
If your main reason for visiting Sheepyard Inn is an interest in opals, you’ll find opal jewellery and bottles of opal chips for sale, as well as a display of opal fossils to look at. There are also opal cutting demonstrations held at times.
For entertainment, you can listen to music or play some pool. If you’re feeling competitive you can join in the Wednesday night pool comp. There is also a range of events held throughout the year, especially on public holiday weekends. Events organised in the past have included mud crab races, girls’ night in, live music and camp oven cook offs. Anzac Day is also big on the calendar, with a service held each year.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Lightning Ridge, turn left onto the Castlereagh Highway (B55), travel for about 3 km then turn right (signed Opal Fields and Cumborah). After about 36 km you will come to a T-intersection at Cumborah. Turn right, travel for 14 km until the end of the bitumen road then turn left (signed Glengarry Sheepyard). After the bitumen, it is a flat dirt road. Follow the signs to Sheepyard Inn.
If travelling from Walgett, follow the Kamilaroi Highway (B76) to the west. About 5 km from Walgett, the highway turns to the left and the road to Cumborah continues straight ahead. Once at Cumborah, keep going straight and follow the directions from the T-intersection above.
If you’re planning to stay overnight, head into the inn and talk to the staff to check in. The campground is suitable for vans and motorhomes of all sizes, and the opal fields can be accessed by both 2WD and 4WD vehicles.
FEES & BOOKINGS
Sites are free but they would appreciate your patronage. If you are staying at this site we encourage you to help keep it clean and tidy.
THINGS TO DO
One of the most obvious things to do when you’re in the opal fields is to fossick for opals. Or you can take one of the opal tours that operate in the area and at Lightning Ridge.
There is plenty to see and do in Lightning Ridge. Take a tour of an underground opal mine or see mine art carvings, visit quirky buildings, relax in the spa at the artesian bore baths, or see a variety of Aboriginal artefacts at Goondee Keeping Place.
Walgett is another place to see Aboriginal arts and crafts and to find out about local indigenous culture and history. You can also check out the historical museum or just spend some time relaxing by the river.