Mine town to boom again
Art lovers to descend on Queenstown for Unconformity festival
HOTELS, motels and B&Bs are fully booked in Queenstown for next weekend.
Meanwhile, restaurants and cafes are busily ordering extra stock to meet the expected 180 per cent jump in trade. It’s a similar story in other West Coast towns including Zeehan and Strahan, which are also expected to reach capacity.
The Unconformity arts festival, which kicks off on Friday, has thrust this remote region of Tasmania into the spotlight, capturing the attention of art lovers locally, interstate and overseas.
Organisers of arts festivals across Europe are making a beeline for the state to check out The Unconformity’s offerings, along with artistic directors from prominent arts organisations within Australia.
Interstate visitors who attend the festival typically stay in Tasmania an average of eight days, with festival patrons injecting $600,000 into the West Coast economy. About 60 per cent of Tasmanian festival-goers hail from Hobart. Putting on the biennial festival, in a town devoid of cultural infrastructure, has proved a challenge at times for artistic director Travis Tiddy.
But he says that’s exactly what makes the festival unique.
Inspired by the rare geological unconformity and remarkable cultural paradoxes of Tasmania’s West Coast mining communities, the festival takes unlikely spaces — like an old limestone quarry, a scout hall, a gravel football oval, alleyways, walking tracks, a riverbed and shop windows — and transforms them into cultural hotbeds.
Mr Tiddy said the town was buzzing as The Unconformity draws closer. “With it being only one week away there is an air of expectation in Queenstown,’’ he said.
“Some businesses have been trying to spruce up shopfronts ... just getting everything ready for this significant attention that’s about to be put on Queenstown. It has been a fairly slow winter for the retail sector ... in Queenstown, so a lot of businesses we talk to are seeing it as a kickstart into the tourist season.’’