Queenstown, Tasmania



Queenstown is a town in the West Coast region of the island of
Tasmania ) , nickname = , image_map = Tasmania in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of Tasmania in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdi ...
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country b ...
. It is in a valley on the western slopes of Mount Owen on the West Coast Range. At the , Queenstown had a population of 1,808 people.


Queenstown's history has long been tied to the
mining Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the Earth, usually from an ore body, lode, vein, seam, reef, or placer deposit. The exploitation of these deposits for raw material is based on the economic v ...
industry. This 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. Early in 1895 a Post Office was opened at Penghana, at the Queen River fork and crossing, about a kilometre north of present-day Queenstown on the road to Strahan; James Robertson was appointed the first postmaster. The only other substantial building nearby was Robertson & Hunter's store. Queenstown Post Office opened on 21 November 1896 and the Penghana office closed; Miss Mylan was the first postmaster. The present-day Queenstown Post Office dates from 1902 and is heritage-listed. The name "Penghana" was adopted for a substantial house nearby, from around 1925–1944 the residence of Mount Lyell mine manager R. M. Murray, and persists today as Penghana Road. A Queenstown South office opened in 1949 and closed in 1973. 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 heavily wooded. The population in 1900 was 5051; the district, 10,451. 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, theatres, churches and schools that have largely disappeared since the demise of the Mount Lyell company. The town was the base of the Organisation for Tasmanian Development started in 1982. There was a brief boom in prosperity in the 1980s, with the building of several nearby dams by the Hydro. The Darwin and Crotty dams that comprise Lake Burbury (a popular fishing and recreation venue) were built during this period. These followed the cancellation of the Gordon-below-Franklin Dam in 1983 after strong campaigning by environmentalists in the 'No Dams' campaign.


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 and 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, revegetation projects have been stymied. 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 Macquarie Harbour is a shallow fjord in the West Coast region of Tasmania, Australia. It is approximately , and has an average depth of , with deeper places up to . It is navigable by shallow-draft vessels. The main channel is kept clear by t ...
. The
Mount Lyell Remediation and Research and Demonstration Program The Mount Lyell Remediation and Research and Demonstration Program was a joint rehabilitation programme between the Supervising Scientist Australia and the Department of Environment and Land Management, Tasmania to clean up the King River, Que ...
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 Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tours. The World Tourism Organization defines tourism m ...
, 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 town's 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. In 2021, Indian mining company Vedanta Limited divested its copper mining activities in Queenstown. 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 Macquarie Harbour is a shallow fjord in the West Coast region of Tasmania, Australia. It is approximately , and has an average depth of , with deeper places up to . It is navigable by shallow-draft vessels. The main channel is kept clear by t ...

Queenstown Heritage and Arts Festival

The ''Queenstown Heritage and Arts Festival'' was the first name of a biennial festival that celebrates Queenstown's history. One significant historical event it has celebrated was the centenary of the 1912 North Mount Lyell Disaster in the second festival in October 2012. In the third festival in October 2014, the Hydro Tasmania centenary was a major component. With key events taking place at The Paragon Theatre, the festival rebranded as the Unconformity Festival in 2016.


Queenstown has a very wet
oceanic climate An oceanic climate, also known as a marine climate, is the humid temperate climate sub-type in Köppen classification ''Cfb'', typical of west coasts in higher middle latitudes of continents, generally featuring cool summers and mild winters ...
( Cfb), and is one of the wettest locations in Tasmania with an annual average rainfall of 2408.2 mm (94.8 in), spread throughout the year. Summers are mild although temperatures can occasionally rise above 30 °C while winters are cool and almost always cloudy; however, during rare clear spells overnight temperatures can drop well below freezing. Brief, light snowfall usually occurs several times each winter, with occasional heavier snow falling every few years. Queenstown is very cloudy, getting only 29.0 days of clear skies annually.


At the , Queenstown had a population of 1,808 people (929 males and 878 females). The median age was 47. Children aged 0–14 years made up 15.3% of the population and people aged 65 years and over made up 22.3% of the population. According to the , the most common responses for religion in Queenstown were No Religion (40.5%), Catholic (22.0%), Anglican (16.7%), and Uniting Church (3.1%). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 6.7% of the population. The median weekly personal income for people aged 15 years and over in Queenstown was $509 while the median weekly incomes for families and households were $1,371 and $851 respectively.


See also

* West Coast Tasmania Mines * Horsetail Falls (Tasmania, Australia)


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. * Gardiner, B. & L.A. ''In shadow of Lyell'' Devonport, Tas.: B. & L.A. Gardiner, 1983. : *

External links

Images of Mount Lyell smelters, from State Library of Tasmania

images collection
* http://www.heritageaustralia.com.au/search.php?state=TAS®ion=119&view=107#a - useful details of the hotels of the main street. * https://web.archive.org/web/20060821115426/http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/wha/wherein/detail.html - context of position with World Heritage Area * * http://www.queenstowntasmania.com/ Locally Produced Information web site * http://www.abc.net.au/tv/collectors/txt/s1978058.htm - Janine Manssons ABC Collectors Review
Images of Queenstown, Tasmania
{{Authority control Mining towns in Tasmania Localities of West Coast Council Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company West Coast Range