Launceston. It’s not the biggest city of beautiful Tasmania, but it is literally, the heart of the state. Located in the centre of the uniquely shaped Australian state, visitors to the Apple Isle would do well to stop in for a few days and visit Launceston.
Launceston – LON-cess-ton
There is nothing that frustrates proud Tasmanians more than hearing their beloved, historic city mispronounced as LAWN-ceston. That aside, visitors will find local locals to be warm, welcoming and eager to help the intrepid traveller get the most out of their visit.
The historic city was one of the first settled in Australia’s short history, and evidence of colonial times abound in the city street façade and plentiful Victorian style buildings. Heritage tours are on offer for those who like to linger among the relics of the early 1800’s and for those with a bolder nature, ghost tours can be undertaken around the streets after dark.
After drinking in the heady beauty of 1800’s colonial architecture, the explorer-visitor can take a trip further back in time by visiting the breathtaking Cataract Gorge and First Basin, a place where native indigenous tribes once danced and sang by firelight. This stunning expanse of eye-popping scenery features bushland, cliffs, the South Esk River, hiking trails, a fine-dining restaurant featuring superb Tasmanian produce, BBQ facilities, a public swimming pool and… the world’s longest single span chairlift! You have to see this place to truly appreciate the serenity and adventure it offers. Don’t forget to stop and see the peacocks; extra points if you catch a glimpse of an albino.
Visitors to Launceston might simply want to relax after walking the historic streets and exploring the adventure and beauty of Cataract Gorge. What better way to unwind that with a river cruise along the Tamar Valley River. Glide down the river drinking in the sights of Launceston in all its glory including local vineyards, historic churches, sprawling homesteads and native birdlife. To further enhance the senses, wine and cheese tastings can be enjoyed on longer cruises.
For those visitors who aren’t into wine and cheese, Launceston’s got it covered by boasting its very own brewery; none other than the premium Australian beer, James Boag & Sons. This historic brewery has been brewing the foaming, amber nectar since 1881 and offers visitor tours through the heart of the brewery as well as beer and cheese tasting sessions. A slightly merrier visitor might then stop in at the museum to learn the long beer-drenched history of James Boag and his sons.
After imbibing a few too many Boags Premiums, the Launceston visitor might fancy a meander through a tranquil setting in the warm summer afternoon, and there’s no better place to do so than Launceston City Park. As well as sprawling vibrant green spaces for cloud watching and Frisbee throwing, the visitor will find hot houses filled with flowers of dramatic colours, centuries old trees that stand like sentinels throughout the park, and if lucky, a free open-air concert in one of the park’s gazebos. Perhaps the highlight of the park, and that which elevates it above any other city park, is the monkey enclosure. A delightfully cheeky pack of macaques call Launceston City Park home and entertain visitors and locals year round with their friendly, jovial antics. Passers-by can rarely stroll past the enclosure without grinning at the red-faced scamps.
Tasmania is proudly known in Australia and internationally as a produce mecca. With a climate nothing short of perfect for berries and wine, Tasmania produces some of the best pinot noir and sparkling wines in the world. The ample and superb grazing conditions allow Tasmanian farmers to produce exquisite cheese and mouth-watering beef. These flavours are served daily in the many restaurants that call Launceston home; the biggest challenge for the visitor is to choose which restaurant to try first!
Launceston is no slouch when it comes to meeting accommodation standards, boasting a host of four and five star hotels and resorts. Visitors may choose to indulge in luxurious spa resorts in the heart of the city, or opt for a country club retreat in the heart of the Tasmanian bushland. Wherever the visitor chooses to lay his head, he will look out onto the Southern Cross overhead and know he is truly Down Under.
*Author’s note: I am not, nor have ever lived in Launceston. However, I have visited many, many times and can attest to the beauty and warmth of this city. I encourage anyone thinking of visiting Tasmania to ensure Launceston is on their ‘to do’ list.
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