Q – Queenstown…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome to Queenstown, the latest stopover on my series, Places I’ve Been, for the 2020 Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.

Before we go any further, I should warn you, that Queenstown isn’t on my top ten places to visit. Indeed, at the time it was a mistake, and my views haven’t changed. So, I caution you to be very careful when you program “Queenstown” into your magic carpet, and ensure you clearly enter  Queenstown, New Zealand into your GPS. Do not mention Tasmania. You’ll certainly notice a striking difference, which goes well beyond the accent and how much Vegemite they spread on their toast.

Unfortunately, I ended up in Queenstown, Tasmania  back in 1995 when I flew down for the 50th Anniversary of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. I hired a car with a fellow backpacker from the Youth Hostel and unfortunately neither of us had done our research. After leaving Hobart and visiting the stunning Russell Falls, we noticed Queenstown on the map and decided to head there for the night.

Big mistake!!!

Well, perhaps, it it wasn’t such a huge mistake, because it was an education. However, we’d have to be one of the few visitors to Tasmania who went to Queenstown instead of the breathtaking East Coast.


Back in 1995, Tasmania’s Queenstown was still an environmental catastrophe and nothing short of a heartbreaking, barren moonscape after years of copper mining  had all but destroyed the place. As the Tasmanian Times explains: “Queenstown became famed for the denuded landscapes … and its Red River. The Queen River turns red from the iron oxide that leaches from the mine along with other metal sulphides and most of the creeks around the town are subject to the acid mine drainage and can be consider contaminated 1.” (I highly recommend you click through to this article and particularly check out the photographs).

“The copper smelters wreaked havoc on the surrounding landscape. Not only did the sulphur fumes kill off plants in the area but the eleven furnaces required vast quantities of timber and the mining company simply cut down the forests to fuel the fires. It has been estimated that hundreds of men were employed as timber cutters and that over 3 million tonnes of timber were cut down between 1896 and 1923. At its peak the furnaces were consuming 2,040 tonnes of wood each week. The combination of timber felling, the sulphur fumes and the heavy rainfall in the area (which washed away the top soil) ensured that by 1900 the whole valley looked like a desert.[2]”

queenstown nz

Queenstown, New Zealand.

So, clearly the Tasmanian Queenstown is a striking contrast to its Kiwi namesake.

Unfortunately, this also leaves me with another confession to make.

Geoff and I spent two weeks travelling around New Zealand on our honeymoon, but didn’t make it through to Queenstown. Otherwise, I would’ve been writing about my honeymoon instead, which would’ve been such a wonderful story straight after my tales of heartbreak and existential angst in Paris.

Well, perhaps you’ll be pleased to know that my travels do end up with a happy ending, which actually turned out to be a new beginning.

Do you have any travel stories where you took the wrong fork in the road? I’m sure there must be so many of them out there. I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,



  1. https://tasmaniantimes.com/2016/12/the-red-river-a-mining-legacy/

2) https://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/queenstown-20040208-gdkqp5.html


14 thoughts on “Q – Queenstown…A-Z Challenge.

  1. Dan Antion

    I can relate a little. I grew up in a city that grew around an industry the polluted the rivers, darkened the skies and made the people who lived there sick.

  2. Liam

    This reminds me of visiting my grandparents in the coal country of Pennsylvania as a kid. Not only did they live in an economically depressed town with lots of vacant houses but all the roads into town were lined with abandoned coal processing buildings. They were eerily beautiful in a way, but thoroughly depressing. Anyhow, if you’re ever traveling through the United States, avoid Mahonoy City, Pennsylvania.

  3. maxwellthedog

    Seeing the title I thought that, of course, you’d be talking of Queenstown NZ, a place that we like very much. I had never even heard of Queenstown Tasmania and probably the Queen would prefer it be named something else. What utter devastation of an environment. As the Tasmanian Times noted, it might 150 years to recover fully. At least it seems on the right road although the town’s future is uncertain. Still, I want to visit.

  4. Rowena Post author

    Perhaps, I can lure you off to New Zealand with my latest post on Rotorua. It’s made me feel like going back with the kids, who I must add aren’t really fitting the “kids” description any longer.

  5. Rowena Post author

    You’re welcome, Linda. Glad you enjoyed it. Sadly, reminiscing is all we can do at the moment. However, I am plotting and scheming and at least New Zealand could be a not too distant possibility. Having to take up exercise to escape house arrest atm. Due to my health we’re also taking lock down very seriously.
    Best wishes,

  6. Rowena Post author

    It’s interesting that Tasmanian tourism now hinges on it’s natural, unspoiled beauty when it’s also had some dreadful environmental catastrophes down there. Burnie used to have terrible dioxin poisoning from a paper mill. However, nothing you can’t ultimately sweep under the carpet a few years down the track with a bit of a clean up and some great travel brochures.
    How are you and the AJF holding out with Coronavirus over there? I hope you’re okay and Max is enforcing social distancing on walks. Our dogs are rather over-enthusiastic.
    Speaking of the dogs, Lady has rolled in a dead rat tonight and shared her treasure with Zac so all three have been banished outside. Goodness knows what it’s going to take to get that stench out. I think I remember seeing a lavender bush out on a walk. They’ll love me for that.
    Take care & best wishes,

  7. Rowena Post author

    Ooh. That doesn’t sound good. Tasmania also had a paper mill in Burnie which badly polluted the river. It was frightful, but before my time. Something they leave out of the tourist brochures these days.
    Hope you’re keeping well over there and the weirdness and tragedy of the present times isn’t making life too difficult.
    Best wishes,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.