Behind the elegant streetscapes of Launceston you get the sense there’s some secret cool business going on. It could be because the locals appear almost nonchalant about their city oozing with fine produce and creativity. You won’t find them hollering about their fabulousness to the mainland though, but instead happily beavering away at their craft. Here’s eleven, not ten, cool things to do in Launceston Tasmania because just as Tasmania hangs off the end of Australia, it seems only fitting to add a cheeky one on the end.
1-Forest Segway tour
Gliding through the magnificent Hollybank Eucalypt Forest aboard a Segway is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.
You’ll feel like a kid again as you traverse the established walking trails with only the sound of nature whizzing past your ears.
The tour takes about two hours in total including training, and covering between seven and eight kilometres it’s suitable for all abilities and you can go as fast or as slow as you want.
If the adrenaline is still pumping, fly 30 metres above the ground through the forest canopy on a zipline.
Really spice up the evening aboard a night flight with the illuminated cloud stations as your guiding beacon.
2-Launceston Historic Walks
Wondering why there are so many pubs in Launceston?
With your feet firmly planted on the ground, join the knowledgeable Robyn Jones for a Launceston Historic Walk and discover many fascinating facts about Australia’s 3rd oldest city.
Leave with a new appreciation for the city’s varied, and mostly intact, architectural styles and as Robyn says, “We’re only the caretakers of buildings.” You’d be very lucky to be a caretaker of any of these buildings.
Tours start and end at 1842 Gallery, housed in the original Counting House of Johnstone and Wilmot’s food store.
The gallery is jam-packed with handcrafted furniture, fashioned by Roybn’s husband Trevor, as well as art nouveau and art deco antiques, clocks, jewellery and fine art.
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 of course, a rotating exhibition space currently showcasing the exquisite Design Tasmania Wood Collection, Jamfactory reigning from Adelaide and Indeco’s functional yet beautiful homewares in Huon pine; also available for purchase online.
Situated on the edge of City Park, later you can contemplate all that creativity whilst strolling through the grounds as our ancestors once did.
4-James Boag Brewery tour
You can’t possibly call yourself a beer lover and visit Launceston without at least sampling a James Boag.
Take it one step further with a tour through the historic brewery, built on the banks of the Esk River in 1881; a time when it was deemed safer to drink beer instead of the water.
Of course that’s no longer the case and James Boag’s brews are crafted from Tasmania’s famed pure water, premium hops and barley.
Alternatively, in a city with over thirty pubs and breweries you won’t have any trouble finding an amber tipple.
It would be a shame to visit Launceston and not have the opportunity to luxuriate in the city’s magnificent architecture first hand.
While there is plenty of boutique accommodation available, the Hatherley Birrell Collection takes luxury to the next level.
Each room, suite and apartment is unique, located in individual locations across town and while sympathetic to their surroundings, they’re understated to ensure you feel comfy enough to sloth around in your most casual or decadent attire and pretend this is how you usually live.
The keyless entry ensures complete discretion; although the chances of bumping into your multi-awarding winning hosts, husband and wife dynamic duo Rebecca and Jack Birrell, is highly likely given Launceston’s friendly community spirit.
There are few cities, if any in fact, boasting a spectacular gorge a few minutes from the CBD.
There are plenty of activities to keep everyone busy including a chairlift, all sorts of walking trails ranging from easy to challenging, a suspension bridge, picturesque lookouts, roaming wildlife and swimming options.
Not to mention the stunning grounds inspiring a flop and plenty of naval contemplation.
7-Tamar Wine Valley
Meander through the vineyards of the Tamar Valley just 20 minutes out of the city.
Spanning 170 kilometres and including over thirty cellar doors, if time was no objective, you could certainly lose yourself for days.
If you had to pick just one though, then make it Josef Chromy.
Set within the gently sloping grounds of oak trees and vines centred around a lake, linger the day or night away at the outstanding restaurant, picturesque grounds and over their famed sparklings and pinots.
No need to abide by the strict luggage weight restrictions either as they ship anywhere. No wonder they’re part of the Ultimate Winery Experiences of Australia.
Calling all hipsters and lovers of retro fare. By now you may have noticed many of Launceston’s restaurants are booked in advance by those in the know, so it’s kind of fun hailing down your food without a booking.
Follow Wanderlust Food Van, Eats with Beats, Turkish Tukka, Burger Junkie, Tacos de Pancho on social media to find their hiding holes. Or chance it with a visit to the Harvest Markets, Saint John Craft Beer courtyard and festivals throughout the year.
9-On ya bike
Starting at Design Tasmania, collect your Artbike, helmet and map for a unique arty adventure.
Pedal your way around Launceston’s cultural hotspots and of course the sky, or shall we say road, is the limit.
Some suggestions include Gallery Pejean, 1842 Gallery, Sawtooth and Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.
There’s a no booking policy, first in, first served, and they can be hired for the day, overnight or weekend.
Launceston is just too cute to not return home without a keepsake of some kind.
Now run by the National Trust, the Umbrella Shop is deemed as the oldest shop in town and manned by charming ladies who may have even shopped for a parasol themselves in its heyday.
Pick up a vintage stole, hand-stitched evening bag or a little something sparkly from Vintage Red Fox; who at the time of writing this were in the throes of opening a café next door.
Another gorgeous find is pop-up shop The Spotted Quoll tucked away at Design Tasmania. Owner and designer Tamika Bannister transforms her nature photographs into useable works of art.
There’s no shortage of homewares, art and gourmet produce to stash in your suitcase at the Mill Providore (above Stillwater) which will keep you salivating long after you’ve returned home.
11-An appetising finale in Launceston Tasmania
Okay, I loath to pick just one restaurant in a city of such gourmet levitation. But in this instance the degustation at PX (formerly PX Tapas Wine) has left me hankering for more.
There’s probably a menu floating around somewhere, but just ask owner Damon Wecker to feed you.
It was a blur of Catalan eggs accosting bacon jam, smoked duck breast adorned with garlic mousse and a smoky chocolate brulee still teasing my taste buds all perfectly matched with local and international wines.
I can’t be entirely biased however, and there are plenty of other mouth-watering options like Stillwater, Black Cow, Mud Bar, Hallam’s Waterfront and Pierre’s.
Carmen Jenner was a guest of Tourism Tasmania