Located in the ancient landscape of Tasmania’s wild west is Queenstown, perhaps the most memorable town on Australia’s southern island. Carved rudely out of the pristine rainforest, Queenstown is first and foremost a mining town... it has been since the Mt Lyell Mining and Railway Company was formed in 1893. By 1914, it was Tasmania's third-largest town, with over five thousand people, fourteen hotels, banks, schools, shops and its own hydro-electric scheme.
Like most mining towns, Queenstown’s fortunes ebbed and flowed with the fortunes of the mining industry but the town has continued to evolve. Over 125 years, the people of Queenstown developed a self-reliance born out of isolation and and a sense of community. This indomitable spirit served them well through depression, downturn and disaster.
In 2015, the Mt Lyell mine at Queenstown closed for what appears to be the last time. Some feared this would be the end of the town, but the Queenstown community is proving them wrong. Raef Sawford and the Big Stories team have documented Queenstown and its people over the past two years as the locals adjust to their changing circumstances. Whether they’re creating art, driving trains, guiding tourists, playing the bagpipes or chasing a football on the gravel oval… the spirit of the west coast is still alive and kicking.