Launceston, or ‘Lonnie’ as known by the locals, is Tasmania’s second largest city packed full of heritage, art galleries and museums. Surrounded by fabulous food and wine areas, the city offers a perfect combination of local delights to discover. It’s also a good place to base yourself for easy day tripping. Here are 10 top things to do in Launceston.
Visiting Launceston’s Harvest Market in Cimitiere Street is a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning.
It starts at a civilised 8.30am and runs till 12.30pm with a selection of fine fresh local produce, handmade cow and goat milk yoghurts and cheeses, free range eggs, sourdough bread, local 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. These are some of the social things to do in Launceston.
2-Take a walk
Founded in the early 1800s, among other things to do in Launceston, the city has plenty of heritage to be discovered.
There are three Launceston Heritage Walks that all start at Civic Square and will take you all over town to discover churches and fine commercial buildings, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery or into railway workshops.
The trails take between 30 to 70 minutes return. The Seaport area is another great spot for a stroll beside the water and a chance to check out the local yachts.
3-Art and history in Launceston
Australia’s largest regional museum, the Queen Victorian Museum and Art Gallery has 10 galleries, a Guan Di Temple holding relics from Chinese temples in old mining towns and the Art Sparks! Family Art Space.
This is the place to see the distinctively-striped extinct Tasmanian tiger, check out images of colonial Tasmanians, and discover a range of changing exhibitions.
The Launceston Planetarium, also located at the Museum, reproduces all the stars visible to the naked eye in the southern hemisphere plus a solar telescope with a live cross to the sun (sunny days only).
4-A day in the park
Monkeys, ducks, a chess board, flowers, huge trees, barbecues and a children’s playground, City Park in Launceston has got it all.
Established in 1863 and located in the heart of Launceston, the park has an enviable annual flower display and a Japanese Macque monkey enclosure that rivals Big Brother for watching pleasure.
It’s also home to one of Tasmania’s premier food, wine and entertainment festivals, Festivale held in February each year in Launceston. Attending Festivale is one of the culturally enriching things to do in Launceston.
5-Be a rev head
With four changing exhibits in the main hall and a mezzanine packed with motorcycles, the National Automobile Museum of Tasmania is a haven for car nuts.
Find it on the corner of Willis and Cimitiere Streets and it’s open every day except Christmas Day.
It’s a great place to lose hubby while you find other exciting things to do in Launceston, such as exploring the shops!
Drawing from the region’s bountiful local produce, Launceston has some eating establishments that punch well above their weight.
Put Stillwater at the historic Ritchie’s Mill, harbour – side Mud Bar and The Gorge Restaurant located in the Cliff Grounds Reserve, on your list.
7-Take the Tamar Valley Wine Route
Just follow the bright blue and yellow Wine Route signs over the Batman Bridge (no cape required) to start exploring.
There are the dramatic hillsides of Relbia in the south and Mt Direction in the north to guide you into the Pipers River area.
The wines include Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir and you can buy your favourite wines along the way without a worry about excess baggage.
The last winery on your journey will pack your Tamar Valley Wine Route Dozen and send your wines home for the cost of the freight.
8-Explore the Gorge
There’s plenty to do at Cataract Gorge Reserve which is a comfortable 15-minute walk along the back of the Tamar River or two minute drive from Launceston’s CBD. Take the new pedestrian inclinator and arrive in style.
If you’re fit, walk through the fern-filled Victorian garden and along the cliff top on Hikers Zig Zag Track along the ancient rock gorge or take a half-day or full day climbing experience with Tasmanian Expeditions.
Afterwards enjoy a break at Basin Café which is open from breakfast to afternoon with tea and scones.
Explore the large natural basin with a slow ride on the chairlift which spans the South Esk River. With a central span of 308 metres, it’s possibly the longest single chairlift in the world.
In summer there’s also a free outdoor swimming pool that’s perfect for a cooling dip.
Take the walk to the historic Duck Reach Power Station interpretation centre and, if you are game, discover the view from the seven metre cantilevered lookout that juts over the river.
Cataract Gorge is certainly one of the best things to do in Launceston and simply should not be missed.
9-Take a tram
Not far from the city centre, the Launceston Tramway Museum will take you back to the days of double bogie trams, watching out for the inspector and Edwardian fashions.
You’ll discover a tram afterlife that includes everything from a honeymoon cottage to a motor racing tower and learn how restoration experts turn the near derelict back into objects of desire. There’s a ride in a 1940s tram too.
10-Even if you don’t need an umbrella
Three generations of the Shott family owned the Old Umbrella Shop in George Street before it was taken over by the National Trust.
Yes, it still sells umbrellas along with National Trust and Tasmanian gifts and souvenir products, many made on premise.
Largely intact from the early years of the 20th century, it is believed to be the oldest shop in Launceston and is staffed by friendly volunteers who love a chat.
Kerry Heaney was a guest of Tourism Tasmania