Australia |Tasmania Launceston: a day in the city
You have a day to yourself in Launceston. Where to start? This riverside city has plenty to offer all ages, but if you’re stuck for suggestions here’s a few worth considering.
Start with a walk through Brisbane Mall in the CBD
Head to Queen Victoria Art Gallery and Museum
Stroll around Royal Park
Head to the boardwalk and catch a pre-booked river cruise and experience Cataract Gorge from the boat
Walk back to the CBD for retail therapy
Visit Design Tasmania, a not-for-profit design centre full of wonderful contemporary design for sale
Stroll through City Park
Grab a fireside lunch at The Gunners Arms Tavern – Launceston’s best kept secret
Hop in your car and drive to Cataract Gorge to see it from a different perspective
This is how your day would unfold…
Kickstart your day with a great coffee. Walking through the CBD’s Brisbane Mall, there’s a non-descript hole-in-the-wall called Coffee Republic. Coffee aficionados will love this place. They also sell a selection of caffeine-free beverages for those who don’t like to drink the ‘bean’.
Continue wandering through the city to Royal Park and Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery. Don’t get confused. There are two main galleries – the first one is where we are heading. The QVMAG refer to it as Art Gallery at Royal Park. The second is the QVMAG’s Museum at Inveresk. They are in two separate locations. Explore Art Gallery at Royal Park before making your way to Home Point Parade where the river cruises depart.
Art Gallery at Royal Park is not overwhelmingly large and is totally doable if time is tight. An historic purpose-built art gallery and museum, it is a welcoming space featuring leading collections of traditional and contemporary art guaranteed to impress and inspire. “Precious: excellence in Contemporary Jewellery” caught my interest showcasing the city’s rich diversity of talent, skill, and creativity. This exhibition features beautiful designs by Katherine Brunacci, Emma Roberston, Janine Combes, Sean O’Connell, Shauna Mayben, Linda van Nierkerk, Anita Dinenn, Carl Noonan, Anna Weber, Lillian Wheatley, Emma Bugg, Kate Case, Lola Greeno, and Diane Allison. Equally visually surprising is RISE 2023 comprising work by Tasmania’s collectable and emerging artists. For budding creatives, Urban Sketchers is bound to draw your interest. Pick up a complimentary activity book and get your creative juices flowing.
Not far from Art Gallery at Royal Park is the city’s boardwalk and Tamar River Cruises Home Point Cruise Terminal. (About a 15 minute walk from the CBD.) We booked the Cataract Gorge cruise in advance. The company offers a variety of longer cruise options, but the 50-minute cruise suited us. The Cataract Gorge cruise operates in all weather conditions and departs hourly, daily, 364 days a year. We booked the 11.30am cruise and disembarked by 12.30pm. (Check the departure times on their website as there are two schedules, one for summer, one for winter.) Our Captain de Jour was Alfie. A pleasant fellow, Alfie regaled us with interesting tales of the convict era and stories about Launceston’s early settlers as we slowly cruised up the river and looped back to Cataract Gorge to view the rugged dolerite cliffs from the boat.
The cruise was short, uneventful but pleasant. Don’t expect too much. It is, after all, simply a brief trip but it is a delightful way to get up close and personal with the sheer cliffs and unobstructed views of the wrought iron Kings Bridge which crosses the South Esk River at the mouth of Cataract Gorge.
After the cruise and a stroll along the esplanade, head back through the city and pop into the Visitors Information Centre. You’ll get the latest updates on Launceston. While there, we learned the ‘easy track’ was closed and our alternative route is the Zig Zag was too steep for our liking. We decided not to walk the loop as it would take around 2 to 3 hours.
We have visited Cataract Gorge previously and enjoyed the chairlift ride over the Gorge. This time we opted to walk from the Gorge Scenic Chairlift carpark to the Alexandra Suspension Bridge. It’s a short circuit and an easy walk for all ages. The bridge does have a slight sway but not enough to cause concern for the less adventurous.
During our walk we visited City Park (above) and spied the Macaque monkey enclosure and Hart Conservatory. At the main entrance to the park you’ll find Design Tasmania (below) which houses a curated retail collection featuring some of the best examples of contemporary Australian design. If you’re wanting unique handcrafted homewares, furniture, ceramics, and jewellery, add this destination to your list.
When staying in Launceston during the winter months, there’s nothing better than sipping a glass of wine near a warming fire. I was surprised to learn many of the local pubs don’t light their fires until around 3pm. If you’re chaffing to find an authentic “red wine and roaring fire” ambience, then head to The Gunners Arms. (And their wines are well-priced.)
Interesting history snippet: Kings Bridge was constructed in Manchester, England and transported to Launceston for final assembly. Construction began in 1864. In 1904 a second parallel span was added to widen the bridge. The second span, identical to the original structure, was fabricated totally in Launceston.
Good to know:
The QVMAG comprises two major galleries.
Art Gallery at Royal Park: 2 Wellington Street Launceston. This gallery features Launceston’s leading collection of traditional and contemporary art.
Museum at Inveresk: 2 Invermay Road Launceston. This gallery is home to Launceston’s natural science and history collections.
The works are very different; research what’s on while you’re in Launceston to avoid disappointment missing out on your preferred exhibitions.
Websites | Addresses
QVMAG | qvmag.tas.gov.au
Katherine Brunacci | kabjewellery.com
Emma Robertson | emmarobertsondesigns.com
Janine Combes | janinecombes.com
Sean O’Connell | oneorangedot.com
Shauna Mayben | mayben.com.au
Linda van Nierkerk | lindavanniekerk.com
Anita Dinen | anitadineen.com.au
Carlo Noonan | carlnoonan.com.au
Anna Weber | Instagram @annaweberpics
Lillian Wheatley | Instagram @lillianwhetley6
Emma Bugg | emmabugg.com
Kate Case | katecase.com
Lola Greeno | website unknown at time of posting
Diane Allison | hallison.com
Tamar River Cruises | tamarrivercruises.com.au
Design Tasmania | designtasmania.com.au | corner Brisbane and Tamar Streets Launceston
City Park | 45-55 Tamar Street Launceston
The Gunners Arms | 23 Lawrence Street Launceston
Gorge Scenic Chairlift | gorgescenicchairlift.com.au | Cataract Gorge 69 Basin Road Launceston
Launceston Visitor Information Centre | 68-72 Cameron Street Launceston
General go-to for information on Launceston | launceston.tas.gov.au