Queenstown, Tasmania

Queenstown, Tasmania

Infobox Australian Place | type = town
name = Queenstown
state = tas

caption = South side of Orr Street showing Post Office and other buildings
pop = 2,352 (2001)cite web |publisher=Government of Tasmania Resource Planning and Development Commission |url=http://www.rpdc.tas.gov.au/soer/indicator/55/index.php |title=Population distribution |date=2005-05-02 |accessdate=2006-12-03]
est =
postcode = 7467
lga = West Coast Council
stategov = Lyons
fedgov = Lyons
Dialing Code = +61 364
location1= Strahan
location2= Rosebery
location3= Burnie
location4= Hobart

Queenstown is a town near the West Coast of the island of Tasmania, Australia. It had a population of 2,352 people as of 2001. Current population is estimated to be 3,000 people.


Historically it was a mining town. The mountainous area was first explored in 1862. It was long after that when alluvial gold was discovered at Mount Lyell, prompting the formation of the Mount Lyell Gold Mining Company in 1881. In 1892, the mine began searching for copper. The final name of the Mount Lyell company was the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company.

In the 1900s, Queenstown was the centre of the Mount Lyell mining district and had numerous smelting works, brick-works, and sawmills. The area at the time was finely wooded. The population in 1900 was 5051; the district, 10,451. Fact|date=March 2008

The town was the base of the Queenstown council up until amalgamation with other west coast councils in the 1990s. The town in its heyday had a collection of hotels, churches and schools that have all significantly reduced since the demise of the Mount Lyell company.

The town was the base of the "Organisation for Tasmanian Development" started in 1982.

For a brief period in the 1980s during the building of dams by the Hydro (to compensate for the loss of the Lower Gordon scheme due to the No Dams campaign) there was a brief reprieve for the town.

However since then businesses have closed down and facilities reduced. The rebuilt Abt Railway has not significantly increased the towns prosperity to date, however renewed mining and mining exploration activity in the region has helped.


The mountains surrounding Queenstown have unusual pink and grey hues that come from the conglomerate rocks on the two most adjacent mountains - Mount Lyell and Mount Owen. The mountains surrounding Queenstown are often snowcapped through winter. Snow falls a few days out of the year.

Owing to a combination of tree removal for use in the smelters, the smelter fumes (for about 40 years), and the heavy annual rainfall, the erosion of the shallow horizon topsoil back to the harder rock profile contributed to the stark state of the mountains for many decades.

Typical of the successions that occur in fire affected areas in Western Tasmania, the low shrubbery that has revegetated adjacent to hillside creeks is a very early stage of a long recovery for the ecology of the region.

Some concern by local residents in the 1980s, and since, that the low-level succession of plants might affect the stark 'moonscape' appearance of the southern parts of Mount Lyell, and northern Mount Owen. Although there are still large areas incapable of sustaining regrowth due to the acute slopes and lack of soil formation, the rate of vegetation recovery will render the mythologies arising from the appearance as only partial truths in time.

The Queen River was for most of the history of the Mount Lyell company the recipient of mining effluent and the Queenstown sewage - which then continued into the King River and consequently the Macquarie Harbour.

The Mount Lyell Remediation and Research and Demonstration Program scheme has since removed the direct flowing mining waste and local waste from the rivers.

Current conditions

Today, the town and district attracts significant numbers of tourists, on either organised tours or the hire car 'circuit' around Tasmania. Some features continue to fascinate tourists, either the mountains, the slag heap or the gravel football ground. There are significant opportunities to catch glimpses of the towns past at the local museum, and simply by driving up Orr Street, the old main street now with closed pubs and the dominant Post Office tower.

The mining operation at the original Mount Lyell mine continues, with Copper Mines of Tasmania operating between 1995 and 1999 independently, after which it became part of an Indian company group - and its concentrates are shipped to India for processing.

Exploration continues within the West Coast region for further economic mineral deposits, and due to the complexity of the geology, there is always the possibility that new mines will open: the Henty Gold Mine is a good example as it commenced operation in the 1990s.

Queenstown is the terminus of the West Coast Wilderness Railway, which travels southwards alongside the Queen River, and then along the northern slopes of the King River to the port of Strahan in Macquarie Harbour.


Further reading

* Davies P, Mitchell N and Barmuta L 1996 "The impact of historical mining operations at Mount Lyell on the water quality and biological health of the King and Queen River catchments, western Tasmania". Mount Lyell Remediation Research and Demonstration Program. Supervising Scientist Report 118, Supervising Scientist, Canberra. ISBN 0-642-24317-4
* Gardiner, B. & L.A. "In shadow of Lyell" Devonport ,Tas.: B. & L.A. Gardiner, 1983. ISBN 0959242422 :
*: 2003 edition - Queenstown: Municipality of Queenstown. Listed Invalid ISBN|09591281:1949 edition - Hobart: Davies Brothers. OCLC|48825404; ASIN [http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000FMPZ80 B000FMPZ80] :1924 edition - Queenstown: Mount Lyell Tourist Association. OCLC|35070001; ASIN [http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0008BM4XC B0008BM4XC]

ee also

*West Coast Tasmania Mines

External links

* [http://images.statelibrary.tas.gov.au/Search/Search.asp?Letter=Q&Title=Queenstown+Mt+Lyell+smelters%3A+collection+of+postcards Images of Mt Lyell smelters, from State Library of Tasmania] [http://images.statelibrary.tas.gov.au images collection]
*http://www.heritageaustralia.com.au/search.php?state=TAS&region=119&view=107#a - useful details of the hotels of the main street.
*http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/wha/wherein/detail.html - context of position with World Heritage Area
*wikitravel|Queenstown (Australia)|Queenstownhttp://www.queenstowntasmania.com/ Locally Produced Information web site
*http://www.abc.net.au/tv/collectors/txt/s1978058.htm - Janine Manssons ABC Collectors Review

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