Moonscape – Queenstown
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Queenstown, Tasmania, Australia.
You could be forgiven for thinking that you had stepped onto another planet when you first come across Queenstown, located 260km west of Hobart. The barren, bald hills are the result of the copper mining that was done here over 73 years. The sulphurous residue from the Mount Lyell Copper Mine stripped the earth of everything living and left a grey and brown sludge over the surrounding hills and plains.
Owing to a combination of tree removal for use in the smelters, the smelter fumes (for about 40 years), and the heavy annual rainfall, the erosion of the shallow horizon topsoil back to the harder rock profile contributed to the stark state of the mountains for many decades.
Typical of the successions that occur in fire affected areas in Western Tasmania, the low shrubbery that has revegetated adjacent to hillside creeks is a very early stage of a long recovery for the ecology of the region.
Some concern by local residents in the 1980s, and since, that the low-level succession of plants might affect the stark ‘moonscape’ appearance of the southern parts of Mount Lyell, and northern Mount Owen. Although there are still large areas incapable of sustaining regrowth due to the acute slopes and lack of soil formation, the rate of vegetation recovery will render the mythologies arising from the appearance as only partial truths in time.