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Launceston travel guide
Launceston travel guide
Launceston travel guide

Launceston travel guide, things to see and do: best tips

Which city in Tasmania gives Hobart a run for their money? Launceston is a poster city for cultural heritage, this is stacked against a stunning natural gorge, wine and food to devour, beautiful gardens and parks and, of course, very close to Launceston is an intact convict settlement. Launceston is a riverside city in the Tamar Valley with its well known Cataract Gorge famous for its panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside. Launceston is one of Australia’s oldest cities with the requisite colonial, Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco and Brutalist architecture to build dimension to the city’s personality. Architectural buffs, heritage building fans Launceston will be loved at first sight. Urban vibe meets country charm is a magical combination. Launceston is layered architecture stories where you peel through the buildings image to discern the past behind.

Footbridge Duck Reach Powerstation Caterch Gorge Launcestion, Australia

What is the best time to visit?

Spring to Autumn (December to late March).

Winter is a brisk due to Launceston valley location causing winter fog and frost. The city is attractive regardless of the season, for the intrepid simply layer up and enjoy a town where you have plenty of space in winter.

Weather

Weather in Launceston

Must do highlights:

  • Cataract Gorge exploration
  • Heritage walking tour
  • Food and feast city trails
  • Tamar Wetlands
  • Shopping
What to see and do in Launceston

GARDENS & PARKS

Parks and Gardens in Launceston number over 148 recreational areas including parks, gardens and playgrounds. Launceston local council has a Dog Walking Areas and Park Amenities map for pooch lovers. The interactive map enables you to select the nearest park to your location and view the park’s amenities, to view click here Parks Levels of Service, For a sip of safe drinking tap water when out and about using this interactive map to find the nearest water fountain and drink refill station, or learn about some of the city’s Memorials here. The city encourages visitors to think about Launceston as an events destination with weddings and events welcome in the public parks. Popular venues include City Park, Cataract Gorge, Princes Square, Punchbowl and Royal Park Regatta (including Kings Park), please contact us for more information.

Launceston Cataract Gorge & First Basin – Launceston’s own piece of wilderness just 15 minutes walk from the city centre.

What other city can offer a 15 minute short walk from the CBD to a wilderness, intact and readily accessible. Your walk is through a fern filled Victorian garden in all its elaborate glory, along the cliff top path aptly called Hikers Zig Zag Track. Walk to the historic Duck Reach Power Station and visitor centre. A cantilevered lookout suspends visitors over the river to spectacular, jaw dropping views. Looking down though could be a challenge. Visitors can opt to take the pedestrian inclinator and arrive in style. There is a free tiger bus to the Gorge FREE Tiger Bus to stop at Cataract Gorge.

City Park

45-55 Tamar St, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia

Civic Square

Civic Square, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia

Royal Park

78 Paterson St, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia

Kings park

88-96 Paterson St, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia

Ockerby Gardens

35 Cleveland St, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia

Princes Square

28 Frederick St, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia

St Georges Square

East Launceston TAS 7250, Australia

Flower & Garden Festival

Blooming Tasmania is an annual garden festival and a highlight garden fans calendar. The Albert Hall and City Park are the event hubs for over sixty plus exhibitions and displays.  Many private gardens open specifically for this event. The festival is organised on the weekend closest to the spring equinox in September.

Visitors will need to check whether historic walking tours are operating as well as up to date information.

CULTURE & HERITAGE: MUSEUMS

Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery

2 Invermay Rd, Invermay TAS 7248, Australia

National Automobile Museum (NAMT)

84 Lindsay St, Invermay TAS 7248, Australia

Launceston Tramway Museum

2 Invermay Rd, Invermay TAS 7248, Australia

CULTURE & HERITAGE: BUILDINGS

National Trust Tasmania

53 St John St, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia

Hobart Convict Penitentiary

Campbell St &, Brisbane St, Hobart TAS 7000, Australia

Franklin House (1838)

413/419 Hobart Rd, Youngtown TAS 7249, Australia

Launceston Synagogue

7250/126 St John St, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia

Umbrella shop also run by the National Trust. A fascinating glimpse of the colonial past around Launceston.

HERITAGE WALKS

LAUNCESTON ARCHITECTURE

Launceston showcases almost every style of architecture possible: Georgian, Regency, Victorian, Federation, Italianate, Edwardian, Art Deco, Queen Anne Revival and even some Japanese inspired design given the sister city is Ikeda in Osaka.

There are three Launceston Heritage Walks commencing from Civic Square. You will discover the architectural layers of Launceston with its churches, heritage commercial buildings, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery or into railway workshops. The trails take between 30 to 70 minutes to return. The Seaport area is another great spot for a stroll beside the water and a chance to check out the local yachts. A guided walk is a great introduction to a city and Launceston does not disappoint with Launceston City and Seaport Walking Tour – Launceston, Tasmania offering local gossip and tidbits about various sites visited on the three hour walk.

FREE WALKING TOURS

Operates in Launceston check here for up to date information Free Walking Tours Launceston – Things to Do – Launceston, Tasmania.

For walking self-guided maps contact the Launceston Visitor Centre.

SCENERY: BIRD WATCHING

Tamar Island Wetlands Centre | Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania.

Tamar Island Wetlands Centre just a 10-minute drive from the heart of Launceston is Tamar Island. Join the swans, pelicans, frogs and lizards on this seven-hectare island and explore the plant and animal life. There’s also Hollybank Forest, with walking tracks that lead explorers through native bush and plantation forests.

The wetlands are best enjoyed by wandering along the accessible boardwalk, which is flanked by tall native Tasmanian grass species as it traverses the wetlands. It is a great spot for a picnic with spectacular views of Tamar Valley towards the peaks of Ben Lomond​.

  • Length: 4km (return)
  • Duration: 1.5 hours
  • Grade: Easy

Suitable for strollers and wheelchairs. From the visitor centre, you can take a short side track to the bird hide on the way. The boardwalk takes you right through the wetland. On either side you’re likely to see numerous different species of water birds. In the shallows look for remains of dredging machinery — once used to improve navigation for ships.

TIP: Explore the Tamar River and wetland area. Pick up local produce straight from the farmer at the Harvest Launceston Community Farmers Market held each Saturday 8.30am – 12.30pm in the Cimitiere Street car park opposite Albert Hall. Gather supplies for a picnic or fill a basket with free-range eggs, handmade cheeses, cool-climate wines and slow-roasted coffee from local growers and makers.

MARKETS & SHOPPING

Launceston is a compact city making a shopping experience a pleasant stroll past a mix of locally inspired boutiques, handmade wares, quirky & antique shops specialising in goods sourced from Launceston’s past to the iconic Old Umbrella shop. All this shopping does not need to be tiring as there are numerous cafes interspersed between shopping expeditions to energise flagging spirits. For an excellent shopping directory you cannot go past.

Shop – Launceston Retailers & Specialty Stores is a great guide to retail therapy. Launceston is a treasure hunters delight with second hand shops and antiques marketing the wares of Launceston’s past. Brisbane Street Mall is lined with commercial shops and amenities, but in the lanes and streets that surround it you’ll find owner operated boutique and specialty shops. Pop into a lane to see what is around the corner.

Old Umbrella Shop

The Old Umbrella Shop has been manufacturing and selling umbrellas since the early twentieth century. It is one of the oldest shops in Tasmania, and is recognized by the National Trust heritage association. Here you’ll find souvenirs, crafts, and, of course, umbrellas. A very special shop for lovers of heritage buildings, shops and the glorious gifts inside the store.

Evandale retail therapy

The village-like suburb of Evandale has a surprising number of specialty shops, with wares ranging from finely crafted modern glass objects to antiques and taxidermy. Sunday morning is a great time to visit, as you can peruse the weekly country market for local farmers’ produce, secondhand books, and curious knickknacks and treasures.

DESIGN TASMANIA

So much more than a gallery, Design Tasmania is also an event space, education centre, unique retail outlet, a place where the community convenes and a rotating exhibition space.

Situated on the edge of City Park, later you can contemplate all that creativity whilst strolling through the grounds as our ancestors once did.

Other places to check out if you’re a fan of art and design see:

  • Homebody, 68 Charles Street
  • Ecoco, 51 Balfour Street
  • Red Fox Vintage, 66 Tamar Street opposite Design Tasmania
  • Tullochs auction house, 20 Herbert Street, Invermay
  • Armitage auction house, 9 Goodman Court Invermay
  • The Academy Gallery, 4 Invermay Road
  • Queen Victoria Museum, 2 Invermay Road
  • Gallery Pejean, 57 George Street
  • Sawtooth, 2/160 Cimitiere Street
  • Queen Victoria Art Gallery for, 2 Wellington Street

Launceston harvest market

It starts at a civilised 8.30 am and runs till 12.30 pm with a selection of fine fresh local produce, handmade cow and goat milk yoghurts and cheeses, free-range eggs, sourdough bread, Tasmanian cider and beer, farmed salmon and local seafood, chutneys, sauces and much more.

Talk to the locals, grab some breakfast or stock up your self-catering kitchen with local fruit and vegetables.

Launceston city markets

Yorktown Square night market is a local favourite for city workers finishing the week. The market is the last Friday of every month. Foodies delight with street eats and live music, it has stalls selling local art, crafts, and clothing from small businesses.

EAT & DRINK

Taste.walk.talk – Gourmet Launceston Walking Tours is a foodie delight for exploring delis and local cafes in Launceston.

Take a tour of historic Boag’s Brewery, founded in 1883, click here for details,  Boag Beers – From the Pure Waters of Tasmania.

DAY TRIPS

Getting around

Tiger Bus The Free Tiger Bus is a convenient way to travel into Launceston’s inner city and surrounds from Inveresk precinct. The Commuter Run which takes people from Inveresk car park to Launceston’s city centre before and after common working hours.

The River Explorer Run, City Explorer Run and Cataract Gorge Run are designed to take sightseers and shoppers into the inner city, and surrounding destinations. The full timetable is available at Metro Tasmania’s website. All Tiger Bus services are operated by wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Launceston Airport located 15 kilometres south of Launceston on the Evandale Main Road, 3 kilometres from the Midland Highway Junction and 5 kilometres north of Evandale. Taxis, rideshare and shuttles are a convenient way to get to and from the airport. Please call to arrange baby capsules, wheelchair access, five-seaters and maxi taxis for larger groups or large amounts of baggage.

There are NO public passenger rail services operating in Tasmania.

The journey is worth it.

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