Earth : Oceania : Australia : Tasmania : Queenstown (Tasmania)
Queenstown is an an old mining town that has been recognised by the National Trust as a historic town. It is about a 3 1/2-hour drive from Hobart on the Lyell Highway.
Mining began here in the late 1800s, first with gold and later copper. It remains an important industry and the main employer. In 2005-06, Copper Mines of Tasmania produced 2.6 million tonnes of copper concentrate. Tourism is a growing industry.
Queenstown is also the home of the ABT Tourist Railway, which runs to Strahan and draws larger numbers of tourists each year. The original railway, used to transport ore from the mines to the port at Strahan, closed in the 1960s. It was restored and reopened in the early '90s.
Queenstown is an interesting town, nestled in the Queen River valley. Summers can be hot and can reach 30+ degrees, although it is not uncommon to have snow on Mt Owen into December. Winters are cool and wet, with snow falling regulary on the peaks around the town. It is not uncommon for the roads into Queenstown to be blocked and the town cut off for short periods during the winter. The best time to visit is between December and April.
Many of the early buildings remain and a stroll around town is a must if you want a sense of what the town was like during the mining booms of the past.
The drive in to Queenstown over Gormanston Hill is a startling introduction to the town. The barren landscape was brought about by years of destruction and pollution. Trees were logged to fuel the furnaces in the early years, large amounts of sulfur from the smelting process polluted the soils, killing much of the ground vegetation. Heavy rain washed away most of the topsoil. A fire that destroyed much of the original settlement took care of any remaining remnants of forest. If for no other reason, visitors to Tasmania should see this destruction to remind us of just what man is capable of, and not allow it to happen elsewhere.
Queenstown is a great stopover when visiting the West Coast, with many West Coast attractions only a short drive away. Strahan is just over 40km (40 minutes), Zeehan just under 40km (30 minutes), Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair 100km (1 hour) away. The Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park is also nearby. The trout fishing at man-made Lake Burbury is world class.
The drive from Hobart is a pleasant 3.5 hours, taking you through towns such as New Norfolk, Hamilton, Ouse and Derwent Bridge before winding its way through the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Leaving the park, you come to the ghost towns of Linda and Gormanston, both of which were large communities during the early mining booms. Of particular interest are the ruins of the Royal Hotel at Linda.
Once past Gormanston the road becomes a narrow and winding affair, where all caution should be taken, but this is also where the spectacular views of the surrounding barren hills of Queenstown begin. Once over Gormanston hill there is a lookout on your left which takes in views of Queenstown and the Queen River Valley. It is well worth a stop for photos. Once past the lookout you drive past the old slag heap and into Queenstown.
From Burnie it is a pleasant 2-hour drive along the A10, which takes you through the village of Tullah, where you first get to see Mt Murchison as it looms up ahead of you. Past Tullah you have a choice of routes. The A10 takes you on to Rosebery and over Mt Black or you can take the B28 around Lake Plimsoll, where there are spectacular views of Cradle Mountain National Park and the Franklin River World Heritage area. Both drives are on excellent road surfaces, although a little winding in places. The Lake Plimsoll road is about 15km shorter than the A10 into Queenstown.
Please note that the two routes above are only a guide and that a number of others can be taken from Launceston. Regardless of which route you take, and depending on what time of year that you travel, weather and road conditions should be taken into account. The roads around Queenstown can be covered in ice and snow during winter and right up to early December. Please drive carefully and obey speed limits and caution signs.
The West Coast Wilderness Railway  operates as a tourist attraction between Queenstown and Strahan, a distance of 34 km. The ordinary railway connection between Queenstown and the rest of Tasmania closed in 1960.
Strahan Airport - Although helicopter and fixed-wing flights operate from here for charter flights into the south-west wilderness area, or over locations in western Tasmania, there are no scheduled passenger services to Strahan from other airports in Tasmania.
Evans Old Corner Store & Market - restored 19th-century building, with monthly markets.
Spion Kopf Lookout - views over the town.
The Galley Museum - corner Driffield Street and Sticht Street. Tel: +61-3-6471-1483. Displays and information on Queenstown and surrounding areas, including photographic and minerals collections plus local memorabilia. Housed in the original Imperial Hotel, built in 1897.