You get a sense of alienating wonder when you enter the small west coast mining city of Queenstown. This town, with hints of an opulent past, was at the centre of Tasmania's 19th-century mining boom. Minerals in the surrounding hills attracted wealth seekers from all over the world. Most fell flat while some grew rich, but the landscape was permanently scarred by the greed.
Large-scale excavation tore the topsoil from the hills, while copper smelting stained the barren rock in otherworldly colours. What's left is a beautifully haunting moonscape. One person might see beauty in the juxtaposition of stained hills and rainforest while another may see mayhem.
And it's that same sense of lost wonder that the Uncomformity brings to Queenstown every two years. The arts festival brings the best of local, Australian and international contemporary artists to the west coast where they setup unique displays. One might connect with the abstract art while another may just see a pile of junk.
Formerly known as the Queenstown Heritage and Arts Festival, the Uncomformity embraces juxtapositions. Take the 2014 sound installation which made classical music out of sounds from heavy machinery parading down the mainstreet. You'll find the odd, incomprehensible and the oxymoronic at the Unconformity. And, whether you enjoy the challenge of abstract art or not, it is quite a scene to behold.
Art lovers from all over Australia descend upon Queenstown for the festival as well as curious onlookers. The festival is welcome for the economy of Queenstown as well, due to the recent closure of a nearby mine. You're likely to receive warm and friendly hospitality during your visit.
The biennial event takes place on even-numbered years over 3 days during the month of October. The event is scheduled over a weekend -- Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The streets and surrounds of Queenstown. The festival has kicked off with a procession down Main Street in the past while performances have been held on nearby railways. It's best to go into town to ask about the new festival's schedule or to download the Uncomformity's PDF pamphlet online.
The drive from Hobart takes you over the Lyell Highway for 260 kilometres. That drive takes 3 hours and 45 minutes. The drive from Launceston is 3 hours and 20 minutes over 244 kilometres. Devonport sits 2.5 hours to the north over 196 kilometres.
Vendors, cafes and shops are all packed for the biennel event, and that's a welcome sight to the residence of Queenstown. With the closure of local mines, the Uncomformity is a big part of the town's economy so you're sure to get great food and drink wherever you go.
The mining industry has been slowly withdrawing from Queenstown for decades so the residents came up with a way to get tourists to town. The first festival took place in 2012 to commemorate 100 years since the North Mount Lyell mining disaster of 1912. The festival has been taking place every 2 years since. The name was changed to The Uncomformity in 2016.
The festival is free. Queenstown businesses are ready to welcome you.