A Guide to Launceston
The second largest city on the island of Tasmania, Launceston is located approximately two hours north of Hobart by car and is known for its trendy urban interior and beautiful surrounding landscape. Featuring a revitalised seaport and boardwalk, Launceston enjoys both a temperate climate and a thriving cafe culture. Downtown, visitors will be greeted with historic colonial architecture, restaurants, galleries and shopping facilities, whilst just outside town there are stunning national parks and wineries.
Launceston Airport receives regular flights from Melbourne via Qantas, Virgin Blue and Jetstar airlines. The flight duration is just 50 minutes. Alternatively, visitors can fly from Melbourne to nearby Devonport via the Spirit of Tasmania. Launceston is a charming town and perfect base for exploring the nearby Tamar Valley Wine Region, in addition to a series of national parks and other cultural attractions. Suitable for a quick weekend getaway from Melbourne or even a longer holiday, Launceston represents the best of what Tasmania has to offer.
Things to Do
Explore the Tamar Valley Wine Region
Launceston marks the entrance into the Tamar Valley Wine Region, home to over 30 wineries available to tour and visit. Considered one of the top wine routes in the world, the tour is well marked and stretches over 170 kilometres. For those hiring a car from the local airport, the start of the route begins nearby. Tamar Valley's climate is perfect for wine growing and visitors can expect to encounter excellent sparkling wine, Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Many wineries also feature in house gourmet restaurants and full vineyard tours. Whilst many choose to embark on their own wine tour, there are also several tour companies operating out of Launceston that can be booked in advance.
Cataract Gorge Reserve
Just beyond Launceston's urban centre is the stunning natural oasis known as the Cataract Gorge Reserve. Home to sophisticated Victorian gardens, open-air swimming pools and lawns; it's the perfect place to relax and is within walking distance from Launceston. Numerous hiking trails zigzag the gorge, with one of the reserve's highlights being it's incredibly long chair lift that offers visitors unparalleled views of the gorge below. Visitors working up an appetite have the choice between to onsite restaurants or may opt for a picnic outdoors instead.
Explore Downtown Launceston
Launceston boasts a rich colonial heritage and its centre is filled with excellent examples of Victorian and art deco architecture. Downtown Launceston is not short on atmosphere and boasts great Italian, Indian and Chinese restaurants. One of Launceston's highlights is the Victoria Museum & Art Gallery; it contains colonial art, native arts and artefacts as well as a planetarium and a full Chinese temple. Another popular attraction in downtown Launceston is the James Boag's Historic Brewery. Visitors can book tours through the brewery ending in a tasting session.
Just 18 km from central Launceston is the Tasmania Zoo. The largest wildlife park on the island, it's home to the famous Tasmanian devil in addition to other native animals like wombats, kangaroos and quolls. Set on 900 acres, visitors can choose to tour the zoo or become a zookeeper for the day and interact with some of the local animals. The zoo also offers buggy rides through the Tasmanian countryside, and is the perfect day trip from Launceston.
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