Queenstown was founded in 1853 and named in honour of Queen Victoria.
A condition of its establishment was that its inhabitants had to be responsible for its defence against the hostile tribes in the vicinity of the town. It was laid out around a hexagonal centre. From this point the defenders could direct fire down the six radiating thoroughfares.
It was not necessary to use the fort, and nowadays the hexagon, with its coloured fountain and lovely gardens, is an unusual town centre.
The town, built on the banks of the Komani River, is a busy communications, railway, farming and educational centre. It has a dry and bracing climate.
The trunk road from East London enters the town through a sunken garden, named after Walter Everitt, a former park superintendent who was mainly responsible for the development of the Queenstown municipal gardens. Swans and numerous other birds frequent this garden.
A nature reserve on the slopes of Madeira Mountain has a scenic drive yielding superb views of the town and countryside. Numerous game animals have free range in this reserve and it is also noted for its aloes, cycads and various acacia species. The tamboekie thorn, Erythrina acanthocarpa is found only in this district. It grows in dense patches, giving masses of bright red and yellow flowers in October and November before the leaves are produced.
The Queenstown and Frontier Museum and Art Gallery, at the Cultural Centre in Shepstone Street, contain plants and animals.
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