Launceston is the second largest city in Tasmania and the 3rd oldest city in Australia, but it still has a lot of firsts – such as being the first Australian city to have underground sewers and be lit by hydroelectricity.
The area was first explored by George Bass and Matthew Flinders in 1798 but the settlement of Launceston was not established until 1806. It was originally called Patersonia, but the settlement was renamed after Launceston in Cornwall UK, where the NSW Governor Captain was born. Launceston grew and became an export centre. Churches, schools and pubs were built, and sporting groups were established.
In 1871, there was a minerals boom when tin was discovered at Mount Bischoff. There was also a spurt of gold mining in 1877 and over the next 20 years, it grew substantially. By 1889, Launceston was officially a city.
These days, it a charming place to visit, and being so close to Tasmania’s premium wine growing region, the Tamar River Valley – it has its own culture and focus on local food and drink.
Places of Interest
Perfectly contrasted next to the city, Cataract Gorge offers a lush recreation area and swimming pool surrounded by beautiful 100 year old gardens, wallabies and peacocks, walking tracks and cafes that serve Devonshire teas.
On top of all of this, you can ride the longest single span chairlift in the world. Pay $12 one way or $15 return and see the gorge from 30 metres above.
No visit to Launceston is complete without a tour of Boag’s Brewery. The great thing about this tour is that it ends with a cheese pairing. We never thought to pair cheese with beer but the combinations offered are outstanding.
Located in the heart of the city, this beautiful and ornate park is just behind the historic Albert Hall and provides a recreation centre for the locals. Whether it’s a group training session or a relaxed yoga class, it seems City Park is a popular spot for many and was once called the People’s Park.
There is also the John Hart Conservatory, the pretty Jubilee Fountain and the Macaque Monkey House – but we didn’t see any monkeys.
North of Launceston is the Tamar River Valley, Tasmania’s premium food and wine region. We only visited three wineries because we were time-poor – we have to recommend Tamar Ridge for its great selection of sparkling wines and pinot noirs.
The Tamar River runs through the centre on the region and there’s only one point along the river that you can cross – Batman Bridge. It’s a nice bridge with a picnic area on the eastern side of the river.
Further north is Beauty Point, where Seahorse World is located. Go on a tour and learn about the various breeds of seahorse.
On the east side of the river is a free camp area at Lilydale Falls. It was fairly crowded as it’s one of the closest free camps near Launceston. We met two Aussies, Josh and Anna, and shared stories about our travels and car disasters.
Food & Drink
We were actually looking for another cafe called Messiah but stumbled across this place and caffeinated ourselves here instead.
It’s a small place with only a few places to sit, but the duo behind the counter were friendly and knew what they were doing because the coffee they produced was fantastic. The coffee had a citrus tang and they are experts at frothing soy milk.
Alchemy Bar & Restaurant
Always on the hunt for a bargain, we checked out Alchemy Bar for their $14 lunch menu. The joint seemed funky enough – a big bar that looks out onto the street, with a dining area out the back. The decor was eclectic and mismatched but overly bad in taste.
The lunch menu had a great selection – fish and chips, lamb salad, chickpea burger – we went with the chicken parmigiana and pulled beef burger. The parma was a succulent piece of chicken panko crumbed and topped with ham, cheese and sauce. It came with shoestring fries and a well dressed salad. The pulled beef burger was cheesy but could have used a bit more sauce to moisten the beef, and more pickles for extra tang, but overall it was good. It came with well-seasoned fries too.