A couple of years back, an archaeological dig on Launceston’s waterfront revealed a treasure trove of colonial artefacts. They told a story of the earliest white inhabitants and their reliance on the river for trade with the mainland. Among the ruins uncovered were those of 190-year-old cottages, warehouses and a brewery. Even a remarkably preserved leather shoe showed up.
As Australia’s third-oldest city, Launceston’s history is as palpable and present as the three rivers – the Tamar, North Esk and South Esk – that converge where it sits. A tourist cannot escape its past, and wouldn’t want to. But there is so much more to Tasmania’s only inland city, home to more than 100,000 people. Food, wine, shopping, art, adventure, natural beauty. It’s little wonder visitor numbers are growing.
- Country: Australia
- Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
- Offical Language: English
- Visas: International visitors need a visa to enter Australia and different types apply depending on country of origin, your travel agent can advise
- Tipping: Voluntary, tips of around 10 per cent are optional for good service
- Electricity: Australian outlets run on an average 230 volts and use Type I plugs
Temperature (max C)
J 24, F 25, M 23, A 19, M 16, J 13, J 13, A 14, S 16, O 18, N 21, D 23
Rainfall (max mm)
J 43, F 31, M 39, A 53, M 62, J 67, J 76, A 88, S 67, O 50, N 52, D 46
One of Australia's oldest cities, Launceston is a Tasmanian favourite and word is increasingly getting out about this place.
Chinese, Indian, Thai, Italian, Mexican, Japanese … Launceston has a solid repertoire of dining choices. But where it shines right now is in serving fresh, modern food made from local ingredients.
It can be hard to go past a classic B&B in a beautiful historic house: Launceston has been doing this style of accommodation so well for so long, and the best are leagues above the average motel. But with modern concerns such as the Charles – in the town’s former general hospital of all places – and Peppers Seaport, you can choose modern chic over olde world charm, or even better, mix it up.
Launceston’s Brisbane Street Mall is a 1970s throwback and the centre of retail chain shopping in the city, while the nearby Quadrant mall tends to the more boutique. As well as the malls, your city-centre wander should take in George, York, Charles and St John streets. Wander up Brisbane Street and you’ll come across the upmarket Brisbane and eclectic Centreway arcades and ultimately, Yorktown Square.
Launceston like a local
The Tiger Bus is a free transport service carrying visitors and locals alike around the city, stopping at key spots. It runs on a half-hour loop from the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery at Inveresk.
1: Help out at the markets: Hang out with locals and immerse yourself in Launceston’s vibrant foodie milieu by volunteering for two hours at the Saturday Harvest Market. You could find yourself minding dogs while their owners shop, or manning the gate, or doing some old-fashioned heave-ho.
2: Haircuts and beer: Blokes, lads and gentlemen, your haircut is waiting: Barber on George is an immaculate retro space with old-fashioned barber chairs and a great sense of fun. No appointments necessary and if you want your hair washed, there’s a hose out the back, says owner Hamish Mackean. There’s also beer.
Did you know...? It was originally named Patersonia, after Lieutenant Colonel William Paterson, who led the first colonial settlement in the area. In either a fit of humility or politics, he later changed it to Launceston in honour of the NSW governor Captain Philip Gidley King, who was born in Launceston, Cornwall.