Back to Top

Queenstown, Gateway to the West Coast Wilderness

A little History..



Queenstown owes its existence to it’s geology, rich in mineral wealth. First explored in 1862, leading to the discovery of alluvial gold deposits on Mt Lyell. The Mt Lyell Gold Mining Company in 1881. Around a decade later the company began searching for copper, which has become the mainstay of modern mining & led to the formatioon of the Mt Lyell Mining & Railway Company.

The beautiful old Post Office, which can still be seen dominating Orr St was opened in 1896, & the town began to flourish. By 1900 the population had grown to over 5,000, with more than 10,000 people living in the region. As with most mining towns, Queenstown has seen a range a boom & bust cycles. The population as of the 2011 census was just 1,975.

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 in town 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


The Railway Hotel

The Railway Hotel began its life in 1895. Originally called The Commercial Hotel, it was facing stiff competition, with 26 other hotels in the Queenstown area.

Unfortunately the original building was demolished in the early 1970’s, as the current building was under construction. Suprisingly, the bar was never actually closed during this construction phase, so beer was always available for the locals. The newly completed building was opened on October 28, 1972. At that time the public bar was the longest bar on the West Coast, measuring 22.5 metres in length (74 feet).

In 2002 The Commercial Hotel was renamed The Railway Hotel Queenstown, & is still known as the locals local.

The history, the tall stories, the characters, & the memories remain & are still growing to this very day. Come on in, sit back, relax & enjoy a meal while you soak in everything that this unique establishment has to offer

Please don’t pass up the opportunity to strike up a conversation with the friendly staff & locals who are always happy to assist in any way they can.


Around Queenstown, photography by Shane Viper


Things to see & Do

Abt Wilderness Railway – Ride the 100 year old, fully restored trains through the western wilderness travelling between Queenstown & Strahan on the rack & pinion track.  More info at their website

Queenstown Heritage Tours – A range of tours available including underground mine tours & trips into the past, exploring lost mines & ancient pines. See their website for more details.

Galley Museum – 1,000’s of photographs, relics & other historical items from Queenstown & surrounding areas. Fascinating way to spend a few hours lost in the past. Housed in the beautiful old Imperial Hotel building constructed in 1897.

Orr St – Queenstown’s main street contains numerous historical buildings that will keep your camera snapping. Mt Owen dominates the background & you will find numerous gift & craft stores, places to eat, antiques & more. Well worth exploring, even if simply to get a feel of the past.

The Gravel Oval – Home of the Queenstown Crows Football Club, this historical oval is still used today. Visitors to the town find it difficult to believe that teams still play on this historical ground, which is known to bring terror to the hearts of visiting teams.

Spion Kopf – Lookout over the town with fantastic local views, whilst standing inside a poppet head from the old mine workings. A beautiful cast canon & the site are maintained by the local Lions Club in memory of the soldiers who returned from the Boer War.

Queenstown Golf Course – Relax in the peaceful surrounds while you enjoy our 9 hole course. One of the few courses where you can find the locals wearing gum boots for a golf game.

Bradshaw’s Sawmill – A functioning timber mill crafting specialty Tasmanian timbers. A chance to find some beautiful pieces for your next project to craft in Huon Pine, Sassafras, Blackwood, & more.

Iron Blow – A short drive up 99 bends brings you to the site of the earliest mining venture on Mt Lyell, established in 1883. The old open cut is no longer used & a lookout bridge has been constructed giving fantastic views down the Linda Valley, whilst perched above the copper blue waters below.

Lake Burbury – Formed on the KIng RIver as part of Tasmania’s Hydro scheme, it has since been well stocked with trout & provides for some excellent fishing and water recreation. A great place for a picnic lunch, &, if the water level is very low, you may even discover the remains of the old Crotty township.

These are just a few things to see & do around Queenstown. Talk to the locals, or get out & explore. You will find a myriad of walking trails, lush rainforests, historical places and much more to keep you busy, no matter what your interests.