As Tasmania’s second largest city, Launceston gives off a surprisingly relaxed vibe. Not as cosmopolitan as its big brother Hobart, Launceston is more like a big country town than city.
Nestled in the north of Tasmania in the Tamar Valley, at the junction of the North and South Esk rivers, the city is awash with an enviable collection of beautifully preserved Victorian, Federation, Edwardian, and Art Deco houses.
First settled in 1805, these days the city has a population of just over 100,000 inhabitants and is the commercial hub for the north of Tasmania. It is also fast becoming a major tourist centre, with a slew of major attractions literally within walking distance of the CBD, including Cataract Gorge, City Park and the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery Museum.
Major cruise ships need to dock at Bell Bay, situated 48 kilometres north of Launceston. Smaller cruise ships are able to anchor on the Tamar River near Kings Wharf, right in the city centre.
The port at Bell Bay is a major port for domestic and international goods. It can accommodate large volumes in incoming traffic.
- Public telephone
If docking at Bell Bay, a free shuttle will take passengers into the Launceston city centre. Smaller ships anchor near Kings Wharf in the city centre.
Once in Launceston, major sights are within walking distance, although taxis, and buses are widely available. Accommodation options are scattered throughout the city.
How to Get Around
Launceston is easily explored on foot. Many of the major attractions are located in the city centre. Cars can be hired to explore the outlying regions, and a number of public buses carry passengers between major points of interests. Taxis can also be hailed in the city centre.
Travel times from Launceston city centre (near Kings Wharf):
- It is a 15 minute journey to Cataract Gorge
- It is a 10 minute journey to the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery Museum from Kings Wharf
- It is a 10 minute journey to James Boag’s Brewery.
- It is a 30 minute journey to the Tasmania Zoo (costs around $40)
- It is a 20 minute journey to the Tamar Island Wetlands.
- Currency – The Australian dollar is the local currency in Australia. Coins come in 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2 denominations. Notes come in $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations.
- Time Zone – Launceston is on Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), which is 10 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
- Weather – Launceston has a cool and temperate climate. The warmest time of year to visit is in January and February when daytime temperatures average 24 degrees Celsius. The coldest time to visit is in July; overnight temperatures at this time can drop to 2 degrees Celsius. Launceston receives roughly 665mm of rain per year, most of which falls between June and August.
- Cataract Gorge – Only 15 minutes by foot from the city centre, Cataract Gorge is a picturesque river gorge set amidst a wildlife reserve. Walking and hiking tracks weave in and around the reserve through lush bush land, while an elevated suspension bridge gives visitors a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. Cataract Gorge is one of Launceston’s premier tourist attractions, and features a swimming pool, the world’s longest single span chairlift, a restaurant, a café, and a beautifully manicured Victorian garden. Open 365 days of the year, a return chairlift ride costs $15 per adult and $10 per child.
- City Park – Located in the heart of Launceston, City Park is a beautiful stretch of parkland that features many mature trees and shrubs, a duck pond, seasonal flower displays, an outdoor chess board and an enclosure full of Japanese Macaque monkeys. The main entrance to the park can be found on the corner of Cimitiere and Lawrence Streets.
- Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery Museum – Educate yourself on Tasmania’s rich regional history and satisfy your inner art critic by paying a visit to the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery Museum. Set over two different sites (the Museum is at Inveresk, while the Art Gallery can be found at Royal Park) this is Australia’s largest regional museum. Take advantage of the free tours offered every Sunday at 10:30am and 1pm. Admission is free and opening hours are 10am to 4pm every day of the year (excluding Good Friday and Christmas Day).
- James Boag’s Brewery – Book yourself on a tour at the James Boag’s Brewery and learn all about this iconic Australian beer before finishing things off with a well-deserved beer tasting – with cheese. Situated 200 metres east of City Park, tours run every day of the week. Bookings are essential and cost $30 per person.