Queenstown

The Gateway to Tasmania's West Coast

WHAT SPARKS YOUR INTEREST?

RoamWild Tasmania - various personalised 4 WD tours around Queenstown with Anthony, your passionate local guide.
Image thanks to: Pete Harmsen

Queenstown streetscape
Image thanks to: Derek Tickner

The Unconformity (previously known as the Queenstown Heritage and Arts Festival 2013)
Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Kim Eijdenberg

Queenstown - Plaque commemorates the 350th anniversay of the discovery of Tasmania by Abel Tasman.
Image thanks to: Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman

West Coast Wilderness Railway
Image thanks to: Hype TV

The Empire Hotel - A landmark two storey heritage listed building located in the heart of Queenstown.
Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett

Queenstown

The Gateway to Tasmania’s West Coast

The gateway to the west is an eerie, rugged and alluring moonscape.

Queenstown is surrounded by the scars of its rugged mining history. Right at the western edge of Tasmania’s World Heritage Wilderness Area, lay an ethereal moonscape of stripped hills and mountains. Logging and copper mining in the early 1900’s have left Queenstown’s surroundings bare, colourful and beautiful.

West Coast Wilderness Railway (formerly ABT Railway), Tasmania, AustraliaThe land is incapable of healing as logging pulled roots out of the hills and mined chemicals have infiltrated the soil. What is left is a man-made moonscape that tourists from all over the world travel to experience. The coloured conglomerate makes Queenstown’s hills and mountains sparkle with brilliance while its barren landscape is a reminder of man’s responsibility to Mother Earth. It’s simultaneously beautiful and devastating. Image Credit: Tourism Tasmania & Nick Osborne (Queenstown rail)

Getting to Queenstown

Queenstown sits in the west of Tasmania making it a long drive from all of the island’s biggest cities. Devonport is a 2.5 hour drive and 196 kilometres away. It’s over 3 hours to Launceston which sits 244 kilometres to the east. Hobart is 260 kilometres away and is 3.5 hours by car.

Touring - Queenstown, Tasmania, AustraliaThe drive into Queenstown is particularly impressive. A zigzag road takes you down into the city through its scorched, stained and beautiful landscape as you navigate more than 90 turns. When you reach town, be sure to look back from whence you came. Then look all around you to drink in Queenstown’s unique man-made beauty. Image credit: Pete Harmsen (Road to Queenstown)

 

What Queenstown has to Offer

Queenstown is on the hire car circuit around Tasmania, so the city draws many tourists. And organised Tasmanian tours go out of their way to take clients through this rugged moonscape. There is simply no other landscape like it on earth.

While mother nature continues to heal Queenstown’s brutal mining past, the town itself has plenty of attractions. The city is crowned by towering and beautiful mountains waiting to be explored. The gravel football ground adds to Queenstown’s rugged history. Orr Street, Queenstown’s old Main Street, is incredibly preserved and lined with closed pubs that were once patronised by Tasmanian copper miners. And Queenstown offers up a local history museum that allows you to see just how this barren landscape was created.

Highlights

RoamWild Tasmania - Anthony Coulson (previously known as Queenstown Heritage Tours), Tasmania, AustraliaVisitors flock to Queenstown to get a feel for Tasmania’s mining history. You can take an underground mine tour or a stroll through the local history museum. And Queenstown borders some of the most picturesque wilderness Tasmania has to offer. You’re likely to find plenty of hikers making Queenstown their base camp before venturing off into the mountains.

You can also see some of these incredible nearby landscapes on the West Coast Wilderness Railway. This steam-powered train takes visitors on a 30-kilometre track up to Strahan. The views along the way are magnificent and you can buy a half- or full-day ticket. Image Credit: Pete Harmsen (Underground Mine)

Queenstown Draws Curious Travellers, Passersby and Nature Lovers

You’ll find plenty of passersby in Queenstown. After all, the city is the gateway to Tasmania’s west. But passersby are quickly enamoured by the incredible landscape all around and some scurry to make arrangements for a longer stay.

Hikers love Queenstown, as it’s a unique base camp for adventures into the nearby wilderness and draws the curious traveller. With its incredibly unique landscape, you’ll find intrepid travellers from all over the world who have come to Tasmania just to marvel at the hills and mountains scarred by Queenstown’s mining past.

Queenstown Accommodations

Empire Hotel, Queenstown, Tasmania, AustraliaThe tourism industry is strong and its people are friendly. They understand that tourists come to town for the city’s unique mining history. You’ll find a variety of hotel, motel and bed-and-breakfast accommodations in the heart of Queenstown and they all have names that play with a mining theme. Image Credit: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett (Empire Hotel)

Activities and Things To Do And See

West Coast Wilderness Railway (formerly ABT Railway), Tasmania, AustraliaThe West Coast Wilderness Railway cuts through the rainforest all the way to the coast. The train runs through the King River Valley while traversing gorges and climbing a steep grade. The track was built between 1894 and 1896 by 400 intrepid men. Now you can enjoy this railway to see the wilderness surrounding Queenstown.

The Mount Lyell Underground Mine Tour takes you 6 kilometres into a nearby underground mine. The tour takes groups of 2 to 6, lasts three hours and children under the age of 14 are not allowed.

The Empire Hotel features a beautiful Tasmanian Blackwood staircase. Opened in 1901, this hotel at 2 Orr Street is a beautiful reminder of Queenstown’s opulent past when wealthy mining magnates would stay in town for long periods of time.

The Galley Museum is inside Queenstown’s first brick hotel. The building has an incredible history as a hotel, hospital and mining accommodation. Tour the museum’s seven rooms to marvel at over 800 photographs of Tasmania’s west Coast mining history.

The Gravel Football Oval (known locally as “The Gravel” or “The Rec”) is a sport’s arena for Australian Rules Football. Marvel at the toughness of Queenstown’s miners who would brave the gravel playing one of the world’s most brutal games. A grass oval would have simply become mud with Queenstown’s incredible annual rainfall. Instead of forgoing the game, the rugged men of Queenstown decided to play on gravel instead. And they would walk away with the scars to prove it.

The Mount Lyell Enviro Tour takes visitors to the edge of town to see the rugged moonscape up close. You’ll also get a guided tour through the town’s most historic sites as well as Queenstown’s modern tailings treatment system.

The Spion Kop Lookout gives you an incredible view of the town and its eerie surroundings. You’ll find the lookout just past the West Coaster Motel on Latrobe Street. Image Credit: Tourism Tasmania & Nick Osborne (The West Coast Wilderness Railway)

What to Eat

There are plenty of local restaurants and cafés in the heart of town. Each has a name playing with Queenstown’s mining past. Or you can choose to stop at one of the many hotels on the way into town for a plate of hearty pub food.

Queenstown's History

The first surveyors of Queenstown’s land classified it as dangerous and difficult country. But in 1881, gold was found in Tasmania’s Queen River. Miners soon flocked to the area. By 1888, the Mount Lyell Gold Mining Company was founded. Queenstown’s destructive smelting soon began and its moonscape began to take shape.

Copper was found in the hills around Queenstown and 11 furnaces were built around town by the early 20th century. Sulphur fumes from the smelting of copper began to destroy Queenstown’s flora and fauna. The smelters consumed over 2,000 tonnes of timber per week until the landscape was consumed. By the time the first road to Hobart opened in 1932, Queenstown was a beautiful man-made disaster.

The Darwin and Crotty dams were built in the 1980’s to create nearby Lake Burbury. While the lake is now a beloved fishing and recreation area, the building of dams has ceased due to environmental concerns.

Environment

Queenstown streetscape, Tasmania, AustraliaQueenstown’s summers are brilliant. Days are cool and sunshine is plentiful, but it can rain. Queenstown is one of the rainiest places in Tasmania. Winters are almost always cloudy, but it can add to the natural beauty around town. Fog looks especially beautiful wandering the valleys of Queenstown’s denuded hills. Image Credit: Derek Tickner (Queenstown Streetscape)

Local Tips

Avoid the crowd at the Spion Kop Lookout by heading over to Gormie Hill for an equally impressive lookout.

The Queenstown Heritage and Arts Festival takes place every other year and is colloquially known as the Unconformity Festival.

What's Nearby

Stop at the Views of the Valley on your drive into town on the Queenstown-Hobart Road. It gives you uninterrupted views of Queenstown’s brutal mining history.

Visit the nearby Gormanston mining ghost town. About 10 families still live in this historic town which is 6 km from Queenstown on the Lyell Highway.

You won’t see any residents in the mining ghost town of Linda which sits 8 km east of town. The Royal Hotel closed in 1952.

The Lake Margaret Power Station is the oldest hydroelectric scheme in the country. It draws power from the Yolande River 10 km north of Queenstown.

What to do

Queenstown

Lost Mines - Ancient Pines

Queenstown - Lynchford

Mining relics amongst the ancient temperate rainforest of Tasmania's Western Wilderness. Visit a special timbers sawmill (Monday to Thursday). Take a spooky walk in abandoned Gold & Copper Mines.

AU$65

3 Hour Tour

AU$65

3 Hour Tour

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Gordon River Cruises

Gordon River Cruises

One of Tasmania’s best wilderness cruises

We will show you a side of Tasmania like no other: our award-winning Tasmanian-owned Gordon River Cruises give you a unique perspective on our natural wilderness and the amazing West Coast.

The Gordon River is one of our natural wonders and an amazing location for a wilderness cruise. From deep within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area it winds its way through the rainforest to arrive at the wide expanse of Macquarie Harbour, then through the narrow entrance of Hells Gates into the Southern Ocean.

Your wilderness cruise departs from Strahan, a picturesque historic harbour-side village on the edge of Macquarie Harbour and the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.

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AU$

Full Day Cruise

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GORDON RIVER CRUISE INCLUSIONS:

  • Dedicated on-board guides
  • Chef-prepared buffet lunch
  • First access to the Gordon River ensuring the best possible chance of seeing the famous reflections
  • Three seating options, including the Captain’s Premier Upper Deck
  • Audio tours for international guests (reservation recommended)
  • Two walking tours (Heritage Landing and Sarah Island)
  • Captain’s Premier Upper Deck includes an open bar. Main deck includes a cash bar

Historic Lake Margaret Hydro Power Tour

Queenstown - Lake Margaret

Explore the century old Hydro Power town of Lake Margaret. See the original machinery still working to produce clean electricity to power the Mt Lyell Mine as it did when first commissioned by the Mt Lyell Mining & Railway company in 1914.

AU$65

2.5 Hour Tour

AU$65

2.5 Hour Tour

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Franklin River Rafting 9-day Expedition

Launceston - Franklin River

A true wilderness experience with the pioneers of the best river journey in the world as voted by Outside Magazine

AU$2895

9 Day Expedition

AU$2895

9 Day Expedition

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West Coast Wilderness Railway

West Coast Wilderness

Step back in history as you  board a majestic steam train and journey deep into the heritage of the Tasmanian wilderness and hear tales of resilience and triumph over rugged terrain, hardship and adversity. Much more than a railway journey within a wilderness setting, the West Coast Wilderness Railway is a heritage experience that will touch your soul.

AU$

Full Day railway journey

AU$

Full Day railway journey

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Wild West Coast Tour

Cambridge - Gordon River

Experience the wild West Coast of Tasmania, as you fly to Strahan then enjoy the famous Gordon River Cruise.

AU$895

One Day Scenic Flight and River Cruise

AU$895

One Day Scenic Flight and River Cruise

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Franklin River Rafting & Frenchman's Cap 11-day Expedition

Launceston - Franklin River

A true wilderness experience with the pioneers of the best river journey in the world as voted by Outside Magazine plus a climb of Frenchman's Cap

AU$2995

11 Day Expedition

AU$2995

11 Day Expedition

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The Pedder Experience

Gordon River - West Coast

The Pedder Experience is Wild Pedder's signature tour: a four-day wilderness experience in Tasmania's remarkable Southwest. All inclusive of transport, delicious Tasmanian meals, comfortable accommodation and knowledgeable guides.

AU$2265

4 day hike

AU$2265

4 day hike

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Cradle Mountain Day tour

Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park

Explore Mother Nature at its very finest at spectacular world heritage listed Cradle Mountain. Finish the day sampling local award winning produce and wines.

AU$150

1 Day Tour

AU$150

1 Day Tour

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Where to Stay

Queenstown

Penghana Bed & Breakfast

Queenstown - West Coast

Situated in a state park, this bed & breakfast is within 2 km of Eric Thomas Galley Museum and Spion Kop Lookout. Nelson Falls is 10.3 km away.
Coffee/tea in a common area, meeting rooms, and laundry facilities are available at this smoke-free bed & breakfast. Free full breakfast, free WiFi in public areas, and free self parking are also provided. Additionally, a library, tour/ticket assistance, and a garden are onsite.
All 4 individually decorated rooms feature free WiFi and DVD players. Flat-screen TVs, premium bedding, and hair dryers are among the other amenities available to guests.

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Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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West Coaster Motel

Queenstown - West Coast

Located in the heart of Queenstown, this motel is  2 km from Eric Thomas Galley Museum and 2 km from Spion Kop Lookout. Nelson Falls is 10.2 km away.

Star rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Comfort Inn Gold Rush

Queenstown - West Coast

This family-friendly Queenstown motel is located in the mountains, within 3 km of Eric Thomas Galley Museum and Spion Kop Lookout. Nelson Falls is 10.8 km away.

Star rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Silver Hills Motel

Queenstown - West Coast

Located in the heart of Queenstown, this motel is 2.2 km from Eric Thomas Galley Museum and 2.2 km from Spion Kop Lookout. Nelson Falls is 9.6 km away.

Star rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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The Empire Hotel

Queenstown - West Coast

Situated in Queenstown, this inn is within 2 km of Eric Thomas Galley Museum and Spion Kop Lookout. Nelson Falls is 10.3 km away.

Star rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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Ormiston House

West Coast

Situated in Strahan, this luxury guesthouse is within 2 km of West Coast Reflections and Beaches. Strahan Harbour and Strahan Golf Club are also within 2 km.

Star rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Risby Cove

Strahan - West Coast

Situated on the waterfront, this motel is within 2 km of Strahan Visitor Centre and Beaches. Botanical Garden Reserve and Strahan Harbour are also within 10 minutes.

Star rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The Crays Accommodation

Strahan - West Coast

Situated in Strahan, this apartment building is within 2 km of Strahan Visitor Centre and Beaches. Botanical Garden Reserve and Strahan Harbour are also within 10 minutes.

Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Franklin Manor

Strahan - West Coast

Situated in Strahan, this hotel is within 2 km of Botanical Garden Reserve and Beaches. Strahan Visitor Centre and Strahan Harbour are also within 15 minutes.

Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Aldermere Estate

Strahan - West Coast

Situated in Strahan, this apartment building is within a 15-minute walk of Strahan Harbour and Beaches. West Coast Reflections and Strahan Golf Club are also within 15 minutes.

Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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