Introducing: Launceston, Tasmania

April 7, 2011 by

Australia & the Pacific, Musings from Viator's Founder

Growing up in Hobart — Tasmania’s capital, and the largest of its cities — I freely admitted to looking down my nose at Launceston. As far as we southerners were concerned, the only thing going for our northern neighbour was its proximity — less than 2 hour’s drive — to us. My, how things have changed!

Hiking at Cradle Mountain: an easy drive from Launceston

Hiking at Cradle Mountain - an easy drive from Launceston

It’s the way of things, I suppose, that major cities have these rivalries; Sydney vs. Melbourne; San Francisco vs. Los Angeles; Milan vs. Rome; etc etc. Viewed from inside one of the competitors the rivalries make sense, but for the unaligned outsider they seem sort of crazy. That’s how I see the Hobart vs. Launceston rivalry now, and certainly how any visitor to Tasmania will see it as they enjoy the very different experience that each has to offer.

What to do & see in Launceston

Some cities are destinations in their own right, while some are gateways to a region. Launceston is a little of both, I think; its history as Australia’s third settlement (1806) is told beautifully through its buildings, which span the Colonial, Georgian and Victorian eras. With only 100,000 residents it’s not a big city by any means, more of a regional centre with excellent facilities. Accommodation and dining options are good, and of course it’s the shortest flight from “the mainland” as we Tasmanians call the rest of the country. There’s even a casino, and a links-style golf course (Barnbougle Dunes) that’s rated #7 public access course in the world, is an hour’s drive.

Inside the city itself, there’s plenty to see. Beer lovers will enjoy visiting Boags, the brewery famous for its quirky advertising campaigns (“Who IS James Boag?”), while the Tasmanian Design Centre and the Automobile Museum are terrific attractions where you’ll appreciate the slow pace as well as the exhibits. Outdoors, Cataract Gorge is on the must-see list for every visitor, a unique wilderness in the heart of the city.

Cataract George

Cataract George

Day Trips & Weekend Getaways

As a gateway, there’s a lot on offer. First up, the Tamar Valley is an important wine growing region, its cool-climate wineries gaining a well-deserved reputation for their sparkling wines, Pinots and Reislings in particular. Key wineries, all found on the well-established Tamar Valley Touring Route, are Ninth Island, Clover Hill, Pipers Brook and Jansz.

Also close by are the historic colonial towns of Evandale, Longford, George Town and Westbury. A stop in any one of these is an exercise in serenity; the pace is mellow and the afternoon teas perfect; any mention of Blackberry around these parts will result in directions to a local farm, if you follow my meaning. A little further afield the attractions become more majestic: Ben Lomond National Park and Cradle Mountain National Park being the major destinations.

Frankly, its all too easy to compile a list of the attractions that Launceston has to offer, both within the city and in its role as a gateway to the state’s north and central regions. What’s more valuable, I expect, is to give our readers some idea of what they can expect to experience if they choose to visit, which again requires a list, but one of a different kind. Here goes:

Natural beauty [abounds]
Serenity [all around you]
Wine [don’t drive to the wineries. enough said?]
History [it’s in the buildings, and easy to find]
People [down. to. earth.]

Viator has been working hard on bringing our customers a range of tours that show off Launceston and its surrounding regions, and we’re proud to announce their launch. We think you’ll find all the elements on my list, and more, on these carefully selected tours. Enjoy them… and don’t forget, once you’re done: Hobart is only a couple of hours away!

Rod Cuthbert

Planning a Trip? Browse Viator’s Launceston tours & things to do, Launceston attractions, and Launceston travel recommendations.


One Response to “Introducing: Launceston, Tasmania”

  1. Sonya Says:

    Tasmania is an incredible destination. Thanks for sharing these travel tips!