LAUNCESTON & DISTRICT
Launceston is Tasmania's second largest town and the capital of the north. Situated on
the beautiful Tamar River and the Cataract Gorge, cut through the sheer rocks by the
Esk River, it is built on a series of hills forming a compact and well serviced city
of some 80,000 residents.
It is also Tasmania's second oldest city, founded in 1805 and was
originally called Patersonia after Lieutenant Colonel Paterson who founded the first
settlement in the north at George Town.
Its extensive parks and gardens contain many attractions, such as the John Hart
Conservatory, a Russian cannon that is more than 150 years old, monkeys and ducks
(City Park), a bronze fountain (Princes Square) and a Victorian band rotunda
Well preserved buildings of various periods are a feature of Launceston, where
the trend has been to recycle both dwellings and industrial establishments, rather
than demolish them. Consequently, the city is noted, in particular, for its Victorian
streetscapes and Georgian buildings. Newer developments have also been well planned,
with the Quadrant and Yorktown Square combining a touch of the past with modern
amenities in the central shopping district. Likewise, with the vast Penny Royal
complex just beyond the city centre.
Cataract Gorge Reserve, which includes the First
Basin, an open area surrounded by bushland, and the Cliff Grounds, form extensive
recreation spots just 15 minutes walk from the heart of Launceston. The two
attractions are linked by a suspension bridge and the world's longest single-span
chairlift. The reserve is ideal for walking, swimming, viewing historic gardens
and exotic plants or simply relaxing in the restaurant or tearooms. It is also
worth spending time in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, regarded as
the best non-capital city museum in Australia, the Community History Museum,
Macquarie House and Launceston's first-class arts and crafts outlets, including
the Design Centre and the Ritchies Mill complex.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Explore city parks and gardens, visit the Albert Hall, the Planetarium
in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, the Duck Reach and Trevallyn power
stations (with windsurfing and cable hang gliding at Lake Trevallyn), Waverley
Woollen Mills, the National Automobile Museum and Tamar Knitting Mills, cruise
on the Tamar River in a paddle steamer, try your luck at the Launceston
Country Club Casino, and call at outstanding National Trust properties, Franklin
House (on the southern outskirts of Launceston) and Entally House, at Hadspen (13km).
Farther afield, there are vineyards, fruit farms, maritime attractions, such as Low
Head lighthouse, Pilot Station (maritime museum) and semaphore mast, and a Swiss-style
holiday village in the Tamar region, the Bridestowe Lavender Farm at Nabowla
(54km), vineyards near Pipers River, knitwear and crafts at Lalla (25km) and
waterfalls at Lilydale (27km).