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Uncover Tasmania's Launceston

Tasmania's second city is coming of age. In this article, Deborah Cooke sings the praises of Launceston's Renaissance.

View of Launceston bridge with boats in the water.
It’s not easy for Launceston to escape the shadow of its bigger and brighter cousin, Hobart. But Launceston offers travellers an equally satisfying experience, with a burgeoning food and wine scene, nature at the doorstep and plenty of history. It’s just waiting to be explored.

The Good Stuff

Northern Tasmania produces world-class food and wine, and both feature heavily in the city’s eateries. Located in a former butcher’s shop, Black Cow Bistro specialises in local free-range, grass-fed, dry aged beef. It’s served simply, letting the produce speak for itself. At Stillwater, housed in a repurposed flour mill on the Tamar River, there are more Tassie treats on the menu: try the Moulting Bay oysters and Southern style crispy wallaby wings. 

View of Josef Chromy Wines meal, Tasmania

Josef Chromy winery, less than 20 minutes out of the city, has not only been named one of the country’s top cellar doors by Australian Gourmet Traveller, but its restaurant showcases local produce, matched with wines. For something less formal (and easier on the wallet), try the “Eat Street” food vans that regularly setup on High Street. Craft beer is also made in the Launceston region, try this at Saint John Craft Beer Bar.

Sights and Sounds

One of the city’s best-known attractions is the Cataract Gorge, a short walk from town. Cliffs, the South Esk River, peacocks and bushland all star here, and can be explored via a number of trails, a suspension bridge and chairlift

View of building on the side of a gorge overlooking the river, Tasmania
Admire the incredible Cataract Gorge in Launceston.

A Gateway To...

Launceston is the starting point for the Tamar Valley Wine Route, which features some 30 vineyards, from big names like Jansz at Pipers Brook, to small makers such as Leaning Church in the hamlet of Lalla. Get a taste of the area’s colonial history at the World Heritage-listed convict site Woolmers Estate, home to a picturesque rose garden. 

View of Tamar Valley Vineyards, Tasmania

The area’s historic residences, including Clarendon Estate and Entally House (the family home of 19th-century Tasmanian premier Thomas Reibey), are also worth a visit. About 20 minutes out of town is the National Trust-classified Georgian village of Evandale, home to heritage buildings, a weekly market and the annual National Penny Farthing Championships. There are also a clutch of great shops, including the Tasmanian Gourmet Sauce Company and Handmark Gallery, where you’ll find one-off pieces from jewellers and artisans.

James Boag Brewery heritage building, Launceston

Back in town, take a tour of the James Boag’s Brewery or browse an exhibition at Design Tasmania, featuring the state’s fabulous artisans. In City Park, you’ll find something unexpected: a monkey enclosure. Its resident macaques were a gift from Launceston’s sister city, Ikeda in Japan, back in 1965,and they’ve been thriving there ever since.

Need to Know

Explore this region on our 12 Day Tasmania Complete

Start in Hobart, then see Russell Falls before travelling to Strahan. Next day, cruise the Gordon River then head to the heart of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Spend the next day exploring the park, before you travel to the Tarkine and an overnight stay in Smithton. Two nights in Launceston follow, including lunch at renowned Josef Chromy winery. On Day 8, it’s on to Freycinet National Park, for two nights at the Freycinet Lodge. Visit the historic town of Richmond en route to Hobart, then tour fascinating Port Arthur.