I have downloaded a dataset from a government organisation. it comes with a .style file.
I use QGIS 1.8 on windows 7.
Is there a way to use the .style file as a qml or sld? I have tried simply changing the extension but to no avail.
The style file might be for ARCGIS users. It is not in a human readable format.
QGIS uses XML-files to store styling properties, so you have no luck with just renaming the extension.
I am not aware of any ESRI-to-QGIS style converter.
According to this question: How to Edit Reference Styles in ArcMap 10
You can rename the style file to a .mdb MS Access database, which can be opened and investigated. But I don't know if that helps you further.
Another option might be to save the style as a .lyr file. Then use http://wald.intevation.org/projects/arcmap2sld/ to convert the .lyr file to an SLD and then use that SLD within QGIS
In QGIS, right click on the layer > properties > load style then use the drop down box to select SLD
I have not tried this but it may work, if it does let us know as I would be interested to know if it does
You could also try the Community Edition of Arc2Earth which can take ArcGIS styling and create SLDs
There is also GeoCat Bridge, this is a paid for application