What to see in Launceston

Tasmania has scenery in abundance – everything from dairy farms, sheep properties, poppy fields, wineries, lavender fields, to historic small villages, wild rivers, bridges, rainforest, mountain peaks, alpine lakes to beaches, old mines and MONA – the most amazing gallery in Australia, just outside of Hobart, and of course PORT ARTHUR the notorious prison for convicts.
There is also great food, wine, beer and places to have a coffee or tea.
What makes for a great holiday is not just seeing the scenery, it is also meeting new people, learning about their way of life and experiencing new ideas and creating memories that you can take with you when you leave.
One of the great things about Tasmania is that it is an island and the distances between places of interest are small – mostly an hour or two away from each other.
Welcome to Tasmania – a great island to explore.
Launceston in the north was first established in 1806 as a settlement, just 18 years after the First Fleet, under Captain Arthur Phillip sailed into Sydney Harbour to set up the First Settlement at Sydney Cove in 1788.
This makes Launceston quite a historic town, and there are many Georgian style buildings and homes built here over the last two centuries.
The town itself is located at the junction of the North Esk and South Esk Rivers that flow into the Tamar River, that flows northwards through the Tamar Valley to Bass Strait – the Strait that separates Tasmania from mainland Australia.
The Tamar Valley is very picturesque with wineries on the hillsides on both sides overlooking the River estuary, and it is a must see drive from Launceston to travel up the Valley, calling in at different wineries and maybe have lunch at one of the restaurants along the way. Tasmanian Wines are some of Australia’s best cool climate wines.
You can travel on both sides of the River either on the A7 West Tamar Highway or on the east side on the A8 East Tamar Highway, with the Batman Bridge connecting the two sides.
Things to see along the way in the Tamar Valley include:

  • The Tamar Island Wetlands – a 2 km walkway through the wetlands area to see the water birds that come to the wetlands
  • Beauty Point – about 45 minutes north of Launceston has a camping ground and cabins, and this is also the location of Seahorse World (seahorseworld.com.au) where you can see and discover all about Sea Horses. The Platypus Duck Park is here too, where you can see Echidnas, Platypus and other animals.
  • Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre – where gold was mined. This is also the scene of one of Australia’s worst mining disasters in 2006 when two miners were trapped alive underground for two weeks before being rescued.
  • Low Head (on the east side) is located at the mouth of the Tamar River, where there is a lighthouse and pilots station. Small little blue penguins also come ashore here at night and you can take a tour to see them (Book by phoning 0418 361 860).
  • George Town – dates back to 1803 and the first settlement in northern Tasmania. Here you will find the Bass and Flinders Centre with replicas of the Norfolk and Tom Thumb boats used by Bass and Flinders. (8 Elizabeth St. Tel: (03) 638 23792). Look for ‘Trim’ the cat. Also look for the Watch House Museum – in the former Georgetown prison.
  • Wineries, Berry farms and Lavender farms can also be found in the Valley on both sides of the River, along with the wineries and restaurants and other farmgate properties. There are more than 30 wineries – some big, some small and you can either drive yourself or take one the tours from Launceston.
  • The whole atmosphere and ambience of the Valley and the people you meet along the way are what makes this journey special.
  • Cruises – are also available from Launceston around the Harbour foreshore and to Cataract Gorge.

In Launceston itself there are many things to see including:

  • The Cataract Gorge – walking distance from the city, with a walkway besides the fast running water. There is a suspension bridge over the Gorge and also a chairlift with the area being one of the best places to see when you are in Launceston.
  • Boags Brewery – one of Australia’s best beers with a history dating back to 1881. Tours start at 39 Williams Street (Tel: (03) 6332 6300)
  • Botanic Gardens and Launceston City Park – have many old trees and the Launceston climate itself makes this a special place to spend some time just walking.
  • Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery – is located at two places – 2 Wellington St and 2 Invemay Rd (Tel: (03) 6323 3777). Lots of interesting exhibits to see.
  • Launceston Tramway Museum – is located next door to the Queen Victoria Museum, and has double bogie tram that has been restored.
  • Brisbane Street Mall – this is where the best local shopping can be found, along with great coffee too.
  • Cable Hang Gliding – head west of the city on Reatta Rd to experience Hang Gliding while attached to a cable. Great fun.
  • Tasmanian Zoo – west of the City at 1166 Ecclestone Rd in Riverside. Here you can see and hear all about Tasmanian Devils, see wombats and other native and exotic animals and birds. (Tel: (03) 6396 6100)
  • Evandale Water Tower – this is just south of Launceston – 28 High Street, Evandale and was built in 1896 and used to store water until 1968. Also nearby is Clarendon (234 Clarendon Station Rd in Nile) about 10kilometres from Evandale on the South Esk River, a magnificent colonial house and farm buildings, with the Australian Fly Fishing Museum located here too (Tel: (03) 6398 6220).
  • Historic Homes – also look for ‘Franklin House’ (sometimes open to the public) (413 Hobart Rd, Youngtown); ‘Entally House’ entally.com.au 782 Meander Valley Road, Hadspen – built in 1819, making one the earliest homes built in Australian and still standing. The house also has a Carriage House, stables, conservatory and chapel and was built by Thomas Reibey, son of Mary Reibey – a Sydney Convict, who became the richest woman in Sydney in the early colonial days. Also just take a drive in and around Launceston to see some of the stylish old homes that date back to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
  • Also see below – Woolmers Estate and Brickendon – 25 kilometres south of Launceston.
  • Villages – there are lots around Launceston – these are just two – Westbury – about 30 kilometres west of Launceston – a real English feel with the village around the Village Green, and nearby Hagley – look for Hagley House (1826) 2km east of Hagley village and in Hagley Quamley House (1828) quamleyestate.com.au Tel: (03) 6392 2135 which has accommodation, beautiful gardens and a golf course.

We hope that you have a great time in Tasmania.

Happy Travelling!  

Geoff Stuart

Happy Traveller

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