Lying on the banks of the lush Tamar River in northern Tasmania, Launceston is a city of records. Aside from being the second most populous one on the island after Hobart, Launceston is the first city to be founded in Tasmania, the first to use sewers and hydroelectricity in Australia, and the first to use anaesthetics in the Southern Hemisphere.
Today, the vibrant and utterly dynamic Launceston is home to a myriad of museums, art centres, historic buildings, cafes, and bars. In continuous competition with Hobart, Launceston is permeated by a love for the outdoor-living, design, and architecture.
Founded in 1806, Launceston is the oldest city of Tasmania. The deep culture, historical relevance, and heritage take over every aspect of life in the city and it is portrayed by the ancient, stunning building sprinkled around the city centre.
Once you are done marvelling at the historical houses and churches, head to Franklin House to take in as much history of the place as you can. This National Trust site was built by convicts for Britton Jones in 1838.
Today the house-museum and gardens tell the tale of that era through well-preserved rooms and exterior design.
While sitting in a bustling, modern cafe in the heart of Launceston, you might forget about the incredible natural surroundings that hug the city on each side. Luckily, a short 15 minutes walk from the city centre will take you to the Cataract Gorge.
Immersed in the wilderness of northern Tasmania, the gorge’s surrounding area offers endless hiking trails, gardens, suspended bridges, and sprawling wildlife. If you are after a glimpse of the coast, head to the Narawntapu National Park which overlooks the Bass Strait. Here you can spot kangaroos, wallabies, and pademelons.
Alternatively, a trip across the wetland area enclosing the Tamar River or to the Trowunna Wildlife Park offers unparalleled opportunities to get vis-a-vis with the friendliest of Tasmanian locals.
Activities and Experiences
The flourishing nature that surrounds Launceston is an endless source of adventure opportunities. With Penny Royal Adventures you and your family can walk along the highest cliffs in the area and admire the beauty of the Tamar River wetland area from an exclusive point of view.
Thanks to the suspended bridges, zip-lining courses, and rock climbing walls, here there is an outdoor activity for everybody. Alternatively, the Hollybank Treetops Adventure and Reserve allows you to hide away in the forest for a day and have fun in harmony with the natural landscape.
Eat and Drink
The population of “Lonnie”, as the city is affectionately called by the locals, knows how to merge art and cooking, giving life to hip restaurants, pubs, and wine bars that are unique in Tasmania. For the best example, head to Blue Cafe-Bar, where the pieces of art on the walls somehow compliments your chilled glass of chardonnay.
For the carnivores, the Black Cow Bistro serves some of the best steaks in the city. Alternatively, for a high-end dining experience, head to Stillwater and Mudbar, two of the most iconic, chic, and upbeat restaurants in Launceston.
Art and Culture
While in Tasmania’s capital of culture, you can’t miss out on a visit to the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. Founded in 1861, this museum’s collections range from colonial art to contemporary craft and design exhibitions.
The working planetarium, the included Chinese Temple, and the display of Tasmanian history make this gallery unmissable. To celebrate their love for design and architecture, the Launceston’s community also established a non-profit unique museum, the Design Tasmania. While alternative, if you are interested in the different styles, progression, and history of Tasmania’s architectural design, head here!
The shopping scene in Launceston has nothing to envy to any other city of Tasmania or Australia. Of course, it is equipped with shopping centres and malls. Yet, if you are looking for a shopping experience that is purely local and a little out of the ordinary, head to the Harvest Launceston Community Farmers Market. With two market days per week, these stalls are unmissable to buy fresh produce sourced locally.
If you like to buy your beers at the source, head to James Boag’s Brewery. Founded in 1883, this brewery might have expanded over time but it has definitely not lost its character. After trying out your favourite pints, stop at the store before leaving to bring a bottle or two with you.
If wine is more your thing, no visit to Launceston is complete without a visit to the Josef Chromy Wines. Nestled among the rolling hills that surround Launceston, this winery and cellars sell some of the best locally-produced wines for you to take home. However, the high-end restaurant that overlooks the nearby lake might capture you in no time!
Of course, in such a vibrant city, there is a lively backpacking scene.
Budget hostels, such as the Launceston Backpackers, dot the city centre and allow you to explore the region without burning off your lifetime savings. However, if you prefer more upscale accommodation options, the Hatherley Birrell Collection of luxurious villas allow you to soak in the sun and enjoy a glass of local wine from your own swimming pool.
Lastly, for the ultimate hideaway, idyllic cottages such as Olive’s Cottage are sprinkled just outside the centre and offer you the chance to live a unique aspect of Launceston’s natural surroundings.
- Food and Wine