Tasmania’s Queenstown, by all accounts a pretty little historic village, was born on the back of mining and it continues that way today.
Hasn’t stopped the town being famed for its stunning surrounding wilderness areas, though. The region is renowned for its mountain walks, the Franklin River World Heritage Area and world-acclaimed trout fishing in the local lakes – and worth a visit alone for its gravel AFL oval (still used today by the Queenstown Crows).
With a population of about 3400 people employed primarily in mining and tourism, Queenstown is the largest town on the West Coast of the apple isle. (It’s actually about 30km inland from the coast, and 250km northwest of Hobart.) It runs along the pretty Queen River Valley and is dominated by the peaks of Mount Owen and Mount Lyell.
If you’ve been working in the mines in northern Australia, one thing you might notice about Tassie is the weather. Queenstown averages between two and three metres of rain every year and snow often falls in winter. In summer, though, the temp could still climb as high as 37C.
The town has two GPs (after-hours and emergency care is available from the West Coast District Hospital and GP Assist). An obstetrician and gynecologist visit once a month, with a female GP visiting about every six weeks and a child health nurse visiting twice a week.
Children can attend Mountain Heights School from kindergarten to Year 10 or St Joseph's Catholic Primary School (kindergarten to Year 6). There's a TAFE College and Queenstown Online Access Centre (internet) and for the littlies there's Lil’ Possums Childcare Centre .
For shopping, there are two IGA supermarkets plus a shoe shop, tourist gift shop, takeaway food outlets, cafes, art galleries and a few others. Then there's three pubs, the RSL club, golf club and footy club at that amazing gravel oval!
The first copper in the area was found at Mt Lyell. Way back in the 1800s a little town called Penghana sprang up next to the huge smelters of the old Mt Lyell Co. When bushfires destroyed the town in 1896, Queenstown came to life about a kilometre down the valley around a new railway station (the historic West Coast Wilderness Railway remains one of the town’s best tourism attractions today).
Unity Mining Limited, an Australian gold explorer/producer, has owned and operated the Henty Gold Mine near Queenstown since July 2009 (the company is also involved in gold exploration in West Africa). The Henty Mine has produced more than one million ounces of gold over 14 years, with recent exploration increasing the mine's life expectancy and exploration continuing in the surrounding area.
Copper was first mined at the nearby Mount Lyell Mine more than a century ago. It was re-opened in 1995 by Copper Mines of Tasmania, which is now part of Vedanta group of companies.
"Queenstown is an historic mining town that is still supported by a thriving mining industry. While employment opportunities exist within the mining, education and tourism industries, openings in other domains are limited. I have found that community involvement through sports, school events, exhibition openings and other events is essential to maintaining social contact with others, as the weather on the beautiful West Coast can at times be confining and isolating. Through participation in sporting teams and community events over my years in Queenstown, I have felt welcomed by the locals and a friendly atmosphere surrounds the town, as with many small rural towns."
"I was born in Queenstown, and have spent the majority of my life here. I have lived and worked in several cities around Australia but find myself always returning to the beautiful West Coast. I love the people, the community spirit, and the landscape that surrounds Queenstown. The only thing that I don’t enjoy is the long winter, but the up side to that is looking up and seeing the beautiful snow-capped mountains and green rainforest that surround us. The West Coast will always be home to me."
Ever lived in Queenstown? Tell the world...