One of Australia's oldest cities, Launceston is a Tasmanian favourite and word is increasingly getting out about this place. Set on the banks of the Tamar River in northern Tasmania, its stately buildings, quaint galleries and reputation for good food entice visitors. With more than 20 cellar doors on the Tamar Valley Wine Route just outside town too, this is the city to stay in if you like a good drop of wine. While you're exploring the area, you might like to include the nearby beautiful Cataract Gorge. It sports the world's longest single-span chairlift (308 metres) and pretty walking trails, among other amenities.
Launceston and its surrounds beautifully meld historical buildings and modern amenities with attractive landscapes. Heritage attractions include Woolmers Estate and the National Rose Garden, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery and Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre. The Design Centre Tasmania hosts a stunning collection of contemporary wooden pieces. Wildlife lovers could cross paths with a Tasmanian devil, wallaby, echidna or wombat while hiking in nearby national parks. Cataract Gorge Reserve is just at the edge of the city and well maintained. Its suspension bridge, chair lift, swimming pool, restaurant, guided walks and gardens are popular with visitors and locals alike.
Hearty breakfasts, laid-back lunches, casual or classy dinner – Launceston restaurants can serve them all up. With extra sides or jokes or pride in their fare. Feel like waterfront fish and chips? You'll find it at the simple 'Fish 'n' Chips'. Try the town's wood-fired meat mecca, Jailhouse Grill. Want premium grass-fed beef cuts as big as your forearm and French-style desserts? You'll find them at the high-end Black Cow Bistro. Vegetarians aren't left in the wilderness and you can find Japanese, Indian, Italian, seafood and a mixture of modern Australian menus in town. There's a host of cellar doors in the region and Boag's Brewery offers tours of its site too.
Old inns and plush modern hotels, woodland estates and city bed and breakfasts, Launceston accommodation covers it all. If you're in town on a budget, the Arthouse Hostel, Launceston Backpackers and the Batman Fawkner Inn will welcome you. There's a host of mid-range accommodation in the city and surrounds. If you're looking for something a little more upmarket you could consider the York Mansions and Peppers Seaport Hotel Launceston. Just out of town is Country Club Tasmania and in Hadspen, the convict-built and stunningly-restored Red Feather Inn.
Books from Australia's oldest bookshop? Check. At Birchalls. Beautiful things for home, kitchen and stomach? Check. At Mill Providore and Gallery. You can also find tasty goodies from Alps & Amici. If you've a love of wooden craftsmanship, you won't want to miss the Design Centre of Tasmania, showcasing local designs. Launceston showcases a lot of boutique shopfronts, with friendly owners/managers happy to point you in the right direction if you're seeking something in particular.
Launceston like a Local
If you're looking for a free and easy way to acquaint yourself with Launceston, consider catching the City Explorer or River Explorer bus. These buses run a 30-minute loop between major points of interest, including the riverfront (and departure point for Tamar River Cruises) and 2 locations of the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, each Monday to Friday. The City Explorer runs between 10am and 3pm; the River Explorer runs between 10.30am and 3.30pm.