We are in the process of planning a trip to Tasmania at the end of January for two weeks. In the first week Suzanne will walking in the Wall of Jerusalem National Park with friends and I will be photographing, probably on the West Coast. In the second week we will travel together around the island in a camper van and check out the Three Capes Walk in the south east of the island, visit Mona, and take in the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart.
Just by coincidence I came across an old roll of 120 film in an old bag–photos of Queenstown from a holiday in Tasmania that we had in February 2010. I remember taking the photos from this location, as I slid on the wet clay when I was coming down the slope to return to the car. I rolled down the hill and, in the process, damaged the film winding mechanism of the Rolleiflex SL66 that I was using. Lucky for me the Rolleiflex was able to be repaired back in Adelaide.
These were among the photos that I’d made before I started working on the Tasmania Elegies portfolio. Those portfolio photos of the Mt Lyell Mine and the King River were made on a subsequent trip to Tasmania, and they emerged out of the photos that I’d made in 2010.
I understand that the mine, currently owned by Copper Mines of Tasmania (CMT) which in turn is owned by Vedanta Ltd, is currently in caretaker mode. Even though the Hodgeman Liberal Government in Tasmania is subsidising the mine’s operations to get it open again in spite of its history of environmental destruction. The underground mine is dangerous due to the very high rainfall, but the open cut is probably viable. Queenstown, however, is pinning its hopes on tourism,
Queenstown is known for the denuded landscapes around the town. The landscape was denuded by acid rain from smelters in the past, it has eroded the topsoil down to the igneous pyrite bedrocks which are high in sulphur and oxidise and leach out metal sulphides when it rains. Queenstown environs is regenerating naturally and the Gondwana Pines and rainforest will probably take another 150 years to regenerate.
Queenstown is also known for its Red River. The river, which runs through the town, turns red from the iron oxide that leaches from the mine along with other metal sulphides. It is a dead zone. Most of the creeks around the town are subject to the acid mine drainage and can be consider contaminated. The degradation of the landscape from the denuding from acid rain in the past and the ongoing acid mine drainage contaminating natural water courses are significant environmental issues.