Horsetail Falls is a nice walk and waterfall attraction just outside of Queenstown

The pit stop: Queenstown

Once one of the world’s richest mining towns, Queenstown proudly wears its scars, from the bare mountain slopes that surround the town to the grazed knees of its footballers. But there’s much more within.


It’s like lunching in a haunted house when you take the short drive to Linda Cafe, set beside the blackened concrete shell of the short-lived Royal Hotel. Try warming homemade soups and excellent cakes and sweet treats in the Gothic setting.


It’s coffee by day and chardonnay by night at descriptively named Moonscape, Queenstown’s first wine bar (cum cafe). Tasmanian premium wines are the star ticket, but there are also four taps of craft brews, with a beer garden to match.

Linda Cafe can be found beside the blackened concrete shell of the short-lived Royal Hotel

Credit: Anna Abela


Queenstown’s lunar landscape has long been its own strange attraction. Soak it in on the descent into town along the stretch of the Lyell Highway known as the 99 Bends, stopping for a walk to Horsetail Falls on a boardwalk clipped to the slopes. Visit when the Queenstown Crows are playing a home match to see the notoriously bloody combination of Australian Rules football and a gravel playing surface.


Art is Queenstown’s new boom. Step into the 1901 Empire Hotel – the ‘grand old lady of the west coast’ – to find the Empire Art Box, bringing together timber and jewellery pieces, paintings and photography from west coast artists. Stick around to view the hotel’s own masterpiece – a blackwood staircase that was shipped from Britain during Queenstown’s headiest mining days.


Discover how Queenstown’s other half lived with a night on high at Penghana, the elevated mansion built for the general manager of the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company in 1898. Its half-dozen rooms have retained their period style, right down to the silverservice breakfasts. The Owen Suite – the manager’s original bedroom – has arguably the best view in town.

Discover how Queenstown's other half lived at Penghana

Credit: Ollie Khedun