The Empire Hotel, Queenstown, Tasmania

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    Editor’s Note: HotelDesigns has a peripatetic reporter in Australia at the moment. He is putting some years of experience designing hotels into practice as a critic, looking at Australian hotels for our magazine. Recently he took a brief trip for a family wedding to Queenstown in Tasmania the Aussie state almost 20% of which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. He writes:I was able to take my 4×4, a mandatory mode of transport around these parts, on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry. The ferry departs from the heart of Melbourne and arrives 9 hours later, in Devon Port.

    After spending Christmas in the north of the island state, I travelled south to Strahan for New Year. On New Year’s Day I trundled into Queenstown, a mining town in Tasmania’s south-western wilderness. It is perhaps best known for the “moonscape” surrounding the town. Logging to supply the local smelters has allowed the topsoil to be washed away from the surrounding mountains. This has revealed the rock beneath and leaving a stark landscape vista into which trees are only slowly growing back.

    My visit was meant to be brief, to look at the town and browse the gift shop at the heritage steam Wilderness Railway there. However, as I was leaving the town, travelling at no more than 15kph (less than 10mph), there was a loud bang and one of the front wheels fell off my vehicle. This resulted in my being stranded in Queenstown for a further week and becoming something of a celebrity in the town.

    This also gave me the enforced opportunity to stay at the Empire Hotel, in the centre of town. This historic hotel, built in 1901, is directly across the road from the railway station. The railway is now a tourist attraction, with its steam locomotives converted to run on old engine oil, but it was once the only way to transport minerals from Queenstown to the harbour town of Strahan, to be exported by boat.

    Daniel Fountain / 08.04.2015

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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