23 October 2012

Queenstown and Lake Margaret

The Towns in the Valley

Tasmania's West Coast used to be a very busy place. Zeehan, in its heyday, was the third largest town in Tasmania, and at the turn of the 19th century Queenstown had a population of about 5,000. Over the hill in the Linda Valley Linda, Gormanston and Mt Lyell together had a population of over 2,000. 
This is a view of the Linda Valley today, with Gormanston (centre) at the foot of Mt Owen. Linda consists of three or four houses and the ruins of the old Royal Hotel on the corner of the road in the left corner of the photograph.

The rock face in the foreground is one wall of the old Iron Blow open cut mine.

down the other side of the hill - approaching Queenstown.
It isn't quite raining.

Queenstown - dominated by the landscape


This is what Queenstown looked like late in the nineteenth century.
And here are some photographs of what it looks like today.

view from my window. It's raining
The West Coast of Tasmania is one of the wettest places in Australia. There is an urban myth that once it didn't rain in Queenstown for ten days. Nobody knows when that was, but it must have been a terrible drought.
There is plenty to look at in Queenstown – the Galley Museum (in the background of this photo) has a splendid collection of – well – everything.
Miner's Siding monument
what it's all about - copper
There are mine tours and monuments and, of course, the resurrected Wilderness Railway.

An unexpected find is the nicely restored Paragon Theatre. Its new owners Francisco and Fabiola Navidad intend screening films regularly again. You can get a nice cup of coffee and home-made cake in the cafe while you wait.

Art deco elegance, and gorgeously comfortable
 leather lounges
movie-going in real style!

Late afternoon on Hunter Street – and the sun is shining!
Mt Owen is still hidden by clouds, however.

Once Queenstown was infamous for its barren hills and lack of vegetation, but today everything is growing back. And it is encroaching on the town itself.

You mustn't think Queenstown is all run-down and overgrown, however. I just like that sort of photograph.
Here's the post office and store in Orr Street, all nicely spic and span.

Lake Margaret

If you head about ten km north from Queenstown you pass the turnoff to the Lake Margaret power station. And yes, I am going to show you some more photographs of penstocks and turbines. Lake Margaret gets the highest rainfall in Australia after Tully in Queensland. It is a glacial lake and the source of the Yolande River. In 1914 a concrete dam raised the water level, and a 2.2 km long wooden penstock delivered water to the power station below. Originally of Oregon, it was replaced in 1938 using King Billy Pine and again in 2009 with Alaskan yellow cedar.

The power station, constructed in 1914, is the oldest working hydroelectric power station in Australia, and is on the Tasmanian Heritage Register. The seven original turbines are still there, still working. Four were installed in 1914, and the last one in 1929.

Nobody lives in the village at Lake Margaret today, but there are plans to develop it for tourism.

Corrugated iron was used for much building construction; it is durable, easy to transport and quick to put up.

You can see more photographs of Queenstown and Lake Margaret on my Facebook page - Tasmanian Gothic

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