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.
Given its long and isolated island history, Launceston is good for antiques – if you’re keen, check out Tullochs and Armitage auction houses, probably before you leave home. The town also does an excellent line in gift and homewares shops: standouts include Homebody in Charles Street, Cocoon Living in George Street, and Hope & Me in the Quadrant.
Look out for classic local shops that have been serving Launcestonians for generations: Birchalls in the mall claims Australia’s-oldest-bookshop status, opening in 1844; Allgoods is a vast outdoor store in business since 1946; Gourlay’s confectionary store in the Quadrant has been servicing sweet tooths since 1896.
Our top picks
Waverley Woolen Mills
58 George Street
The factory outlet for Australia’s oldest textile mill is a showcase of woolly versions of crackling fires on frosty nights. The rugs, scarves, blankets and throws of the Waverley Woollen Mills have been spun and woven – from merino, alpaca and mohair – on the same site since 1874. While their cosiness is timeless, the colours are of the moment and the prices speak to the quality: these are heirloom products for Launcestonians.
Design Tasmania Centre
44-55 Tamar Street
You can pick up a classy souvenir here, in classy surrounds: the centre sprawls across a heritage-listed former church hall and a custom-designed annex named in 2004 as among the world’s top 1000 contemporary buildings. All items for sale, including jewellery, homewares and furniture, are designed and made in Tasmania. But it’s not just about shopping: in a state known for its native timbers and the artisans who love to work it, the centre has been amassing since 1991 its Wood Collection, utterly superb to look at but not for sale.
Shop like a local
For a boutique in a regional town, Yeltuor in Charles Street, a landmark of retail that opened in 1971, always punched above its weight – almost too posh for Launceston, really. Racks are busy, eclectic and designer all the way. More than 100 labels are stocked, from Collette Dinnigan and Charlie Brown to Blue Juice and Love is Found. Around the corner in the Quadrant, the Leather Jacket stocks high-end European labels and shoes from Spain, Portugal and Brazil.
Locals are in love with Harvest Launceston, a community farmers’ market held in a car park in Cimitiere Street each Saturday morning. Stallholders peddle wine, garlic, bread, eggs, meat, nuts, grains, vegetables, fruit, cheese, microherbs, olive oil … much of it with the descriptors organic, artisan, or hormone-free attached. You’ll be mingling with food-loving Launcestonians picking up their weekly vegie supplies.