Launceston was established in the early 1800s on the banks of the Tamar River. It has one of the best-preserved inner-city precincts of any Australia city, with many of the buildings from the early years after settlement still remaining. It’s Tasmania’s second city, but with a small population, it maintains a friendly atmosphere. The surrounding countryside is some of the prettiest in the region, with vineyards, wool farms, lavender fields and gorgeous small towns and villages.
Walk the streets to see stately old buildings. Restrictions in Launceston have kept the skyline low, and local heritage intact. You’ll see immaculately preserved Georgian and Victorian buildings all around the downtown area. Drop by Franklin or Macquarie House and take a look inside two of the most significant. Many other old buildings have restaurants which serve up gourmet local produce and superb wines from the area.
History buffs and art lovers should head to the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. It’s spread across two sites and has an excellent collection of Tasmanian art and exhibits about local history. Bring the kids and explore the Family Art Space and the interactive science area, the Phenomena Factory.
If you are a car fan, check out the National Automobile Museum of Tasmania. There are iconic Australian cars as well as vintage motorcycles. Take a tour of the James Boag & Son Brewery. You’ll learn about the brewing process and get to taste different varieties of Tasmania's best-known beers. Relax in City Park; it’s home to the botanic gardens, a macaque monkey enclosure and a radio museum.
Head out of town to explore the Cataract Gorge Reserve. Hike trails of varying difficulty or go for a swim in the gorge. To get better views, take the chairlift that goes all the way across. You’ll also find playgrounds, cafés and a swimming pool in the area. If you have a little more time to spend, a tour of the Tamar Valley to sample wines from its many vineyards is a great idea.