Tasmania's Launceton

Tasmania’s second largest city presents a lovely picture as you drive into town.

Clusters of grand Victorian houses nestle in the green hills. To the west, the skyline is dominated by the craggy outline of the Great Western Tiers, while bush-clad hills fold back into the eastern ski slopes of Ben Lomond.

Launceston’s natural assets don’t end there. The town sits on the confluence of the picturesque North and South Esk rivers. A remarkably short 15 minute riverbank stroll, leads you into the breathtaking Cataract Gorge. Here you can get high on rock climbing or abseiling and cross the gorge on a chairlift.

Life in Launceston moves at a sedate, country town pace, but there is absolutely no possibility of visitors becoming bored. Activities on offer include; exploring the city’s heritage precincts, browsing George Street’s craft and gift shops, admiring the ‘Garden City’s’ parklands and private gardens, fly fishing in the Launceston Lakes, visiting the museum, art gallery and seahorse aquarium. Finish a very full day with a therapeutic spa at the Roman baths.

The Tamar River Valley warrants special mention. This unique visitor attraction offers peaceful boat cruises, self-drive scenic tours through picturesque rural hamlets, a world-class wine tasting trail and special taste and smell treats at strawberry farms and lavender plantations.

Further south, along the Midland Highway, you can discover a whole new dimension of colonial heritage at Claredon and Woolmer’s Estate, two National Trust listed mansions. A working colonial era farm can be visited at Brickendon.

Launceston still has more ‘must see’ attractions up its sleeve after all this excitement is over. At the nightly ‘Ghost Tours,’ theatrical guides will lead you down dark atmospheric alleyways that neither believers or sceptics would dare to venture. Daylight brings some respite to enable you to soothe the nerves with free samples on Boag’s Brewery Tour. Children will enjoy the candy delights at the sweets factory at Penny Royal World and are sure to scream with delight when they see the macaque monkeys in City Park.

There is ample accommodation in town in the form of backpackers, hostels, hotels, motels, cottages, guesthouses, B&B’s and apartments.

Waterfront restaurants with a nautical theme will woo you with menus of exquisitely delicate rock lobster dishes and rich flavoured scallops. This may be the third oldest Australian city after Sydney and Hobart, but it’s evolving a very modern cuisine and cultural ethos.