Your ultimate guide to

Launceston & North

Quite literally, the heart of Tasmania, Launceston is a boutique riverside city located just at the top of the Tamar Valley. There’s cultural heritage to devour, beautiful parks and gardens to explore, and a thriving food and wine atmosphere. Launceston is actually one of Australia’s oldest cities and features elegant Colonial and Victorian architecture, which adds another dimension to the city’s charm.

Top Things to See and Do in Launceston

With plenty of cultural attractions, including art galleries, museums and design studios to explore, there’s plenty to keep the mind busy in this charming city. The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery is a must-see, being the largest regional gallery in Australia, as is Sawtooth Gallery, an artist-run initiative gallery with contemporary and experimental art.

 

For those into spectacular scenery, head 45 minutes out of Launceston and straight to Bridestow Lavender Estate. The lavender blooms during December and January but visitors are welcome all year round.

 

There’s also an abundance of boutique shopping to enjoy with the latest fashions, locally-made homewares or delectable food on offer. As you wander around the shops, you’ll stumble upon two major problems – choosing what to buy and finding a suitcase big enough to take it all home in.

Waterfalls

While Launceston itself doesn’t have many waterfalls, some of the state’s best falls are within an hour’s drive of the city. Within the city limits is Punchbowl Falls which plummets approximately five metres between a natural rock fissure and it a pretty cool sight to see. However, take note, the waterfall is seasonal as it flows on Kings Meadow Rivulet. If you don’t want to drive too far, hop in the car and head to Lilydale Falls Reserve. There are two waterfalls at the Reserve with terrific lookout areas and an excellent track to walk along. Another option is to head to Cashs Gorge Circuit where you’ll be able to see Ralphs Falls, Tasmania’s largest single drop waterfall. The water plunges nearly 100 metres off a cliff into the gorge below. The Circuit is a wonderful 4-hour loop walk with breathtaking views.

Hiking and Walking

For those who want to get the heartrates up, there are some fantastic walks in and around Launceston. With one of the most intact early cityscapes in Australia, the best way to explore the city is on foot and the Launceston Heritage Trails do just that. Take some easy strolls around City Park and learn all about the history of the city. While you’re there, visit the Japanese Macaque monkeys and ducks – fun for the whole family.

 

For a slice of wilderness right in the heart of Launceston, Cataract Gorge is just a 15-minute walk from the city centre and is loaded with walking and hiking trails. Also at the Gorge is the world’s longest single span chairlift, a swimming pool, beautiful gardens, suspension bridge and panoramic lookouts.

 

Also, just a 10-minute drive from the heart of Launceston is Tamar Island. Join the swans, pelicans, frogs and lizards on this seven-hectare island and explore the plant and animal life. There’s also Hollybank Forest, with walking tracks that lead explorers through native bush and plantation forests.

Wineries and Markets

If you’re keen to sample quality locally-produced wine, Launceston has plenty on offer. Launceston and the Tamar Valley have more than 30 vineyards with white wines the biggest growers. The region also features some excellent sparkling wines, some that are considered equal to those from Champagne. This is mainly due to the region’s climate, perfect for cool-climate wines. Head to Josef Chromy to enjoy a drop of quality wine at the cellar door, which is located in a charming timber cottage overlooking the lake. There’s also Jinglers Creek, a boutique vineyard specialising in Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. And the setting is beautiful! Another good one, and quite a well-known one, is Jansz. The vineyard uses the traditional French style of creating sparkling wine with the cool Tasmanian climate.

 

For those wanting to explore the market scene, weekends are ideal. While boutique stores are scattered around the CBD and city fringes, it’s the local markets where the real bargains are. At the Launceston Harvest Market, you’ll find an array of premium local produce and be served personally by the growers, producers and makers so you get to hear their fascinating stories too. They’re also on hand to help with any questions and to provide tips on how best to enjoy the produce. For fashion, head to My Closet Market, the city’s biggest fashion market for new and pre-loved clothing, shoes, jewellery and accessories or alternatively, try the Penny Royal Designer Markets, which has been carefully curated so that each stall holder is unique.

Top Ways to Stay in Launceston

From luxury accommodation to camping along the river, Launceston and Tasmania’s north has an option for everyone.

Luxury Accommodation

Boutique accommodation with all the trimmings, Hatherley Birrell Collection is an art-themed hotel, a mere 15-minute walk from the city centre. Yet, it feels like you’re a world away, surrounded by gardens, lawns, and fig and magnolia trees. The hotel was once an historic 1830s mansion and now offers four unique accommodation options, from suites to pavilions to full-blown apartments.

 

A combination of Georgian influence with French provincial flair, Red Feather Inn is a boutique luxury bed and breakfast with elegant rooms, a secluded garden and state of the art amenities. For those looking to get their hands dirty, there’s even a cooking school on site. It’s the perfect place for a couple’s escape or hire out the entire place for a special occasion and really treat your guests.

 

Relbia Lodge is situated in the stunning Tamar Valley and it is truly postcard perfect. Set on the lake and right in the middle of the valley’s vineyards, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in the heart of Italy. Comfort and elegance is at the hotel’s core and as an added bonus, Josef Chromy is right next door – perfect to pick up an excellent bottle of wine and enjoy a good feed.

Hotels and Hostels

If it’s an apartment you’re after, the Two Four Two in central Launceston will work a treat. It’s just a short walk from the bustle café precinct, Cataract Gorge, and loads of gift shops and galleries, and there are plenty of self-catered accommodation options to choose from from studio to two bedrooms.

 

Overlook the city at the Grand Chancellor. The hotel is situated in the heart of the CBD, surrounded by all the top attractions including City Park, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery and even Boag’s Brewery. Offering sweeping views of the Launceston skyline, you’ll also be treated to all the modern travel luxuries.

 

Peppers Silo Hotel is a unique option which literally brings heritage to life on the banks of the Tamar River. The building, originally four silos that contained grain, dates back to the 1960s and is an iconic landmark in itself. Now, it’s a sophisticated nine-storey hotel and most definitely a unique place to stay, with all the modern amenities you could need.

 

Again, it’s all about the history and heritage at Auldington, which was once Presentation Sister’s Convent. With its grand façade, high ceilings and historical features, you’ll feel transported back in time. But don’t worry, while the building is heritage, the interiors are not. Rather, you’ll be surrounded by contemporary interior furnishings and local art.

 

Of course, there are also budget-friendly options, and self-contained apartment chains including selections from Mantra, Best Western and Quest.

Camping and Caravans

Launceston and Northern Tasmania is very much about nature and spectacular scenery, so we understand that there are many people out there who really want to embrace this.

 

Big4 Launceston Holiday Park provides cabins, and unpowered and powered site accommodation. It’s centrally located and is an excellent place to base yourself. Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi, a children’s playground and varied accommodation options, including two-bedroom villas for families or groups.

 

Providing cabin and villa accommodation just north of Launceston, Launceston Holiday Park Legana is set in a peaceful and relaxed parkland setting with beautiful grounds. It’s within easy driving distance of Tamar Valley and Launceston. The park offers laundry facilities and gas barbeques as well, and each cabin is equipped with a kitchen.

 

Around the area, there are also plenty of opportunities to pitch a tent and camp under the stars, from Liffey River Camp to Ben Lomond National Park and even some farms that will allow you to camp out too.

Top Food Finds in Launceston

From cheap eats to fine dining, breakfast to dessert, Launceston has it all.

 

Up at the top end of the white china spectrum, Stillwater continually reinvents itself, providing innovative and authentic dishes. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is sure to impress even the biggest foodies out there. It’s set in a character-filled 1830s building which adds to the restaurant’s flair. This is all capped off by the beautiful water views.

 

For paddock to plate dining, check out Geronimo Aperitivo Bar and Restaurant. It’s pretty easy to miss the place as you’re strolling along, with very little signage, but once inside, the sophistication is unmistakable. The food is bursting with local produce, with most of the ingredients sourced from the owners very own farm. And the cocktails are excellent too.

 

The Dinner Belle brings a little bit of southern USA charm to southern Australia. Deep fried everything is on offer including ribs, pulled pork and delicious corn on the cob. But don’t worry, there are vegetarian options too and the deep-fried donuts for dessert are a must.

 

Inside Café is your top breakfast option. Right in the middle of Launceston city, in an old warehouse space, there’s fantastic breakfast options, both traditional and unique and the Toby’s Estate coffee provides the best morning perk.

 

Yes, we’ve even got a recommendation for dessert, because isnt’ that the most important part of any meal? Charlie’s Dessert House is Launceston’s only dessert house has a menu filled with mouth-watering sweet treats including a warm cooking sundae and sticky date pudding. Don’t try to stay away, it’s a fruitless exercise.

Packages and Tours

Launceston is an excellent city to tour yourself and there are plenty of ways to do it. Head out on bike and pedal your way around the cultural hotspots. Take a tour of the historic Boag’s Brewery and see what really goes into producing Australia’s premium beer. For the brave people out there, pick a Launceston City Ghost Tour. It’s one of the most thrilling ways to explore the city and discover its history.

 

Northern Tasmania is also the perfect place to get in the car and simply drive. The scenery is spectacular and there are so many places to see and things to do. Having a car gives you the flexibility to do whatever you want, in your own time.

 

Of course, there are guided tours as well, including tours that take you along the Tamar River and even quad bike tours that take you into the wilderness. It’s also a nice idea to jump on a wine tour to really get a taste of the vineyards.

 

Launceston and Northern Tasmania are simply breathtaking places to explore. Whether you’re doing it yourself or jumping on a tour, enjoy the scenery, the history and the food. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind holiday.

 

Why not explore more of Tasmania?