With ultra-cheap airfares available and spare time on your hands, why not consider a day trip to Launceston, Tasmania. Some people might find the idea a bit crazy, but for the same time it would take to drive down the Great Ocean Road, you could pop over the Bass Strait and be exploring the Apple Isle.
As we were only going for a day and the flight left before 7am on a Saturday morning, it was convenient to drive straight to the airport and park right at the terminal. As there was no check in baggage to worry about, we were able to arrive at the airport just in time for boarding the plane and avoid time spent hanging around the departure gates.
OF NOTE - If departing from T4 Terminal (Jetstar/Tigerair) make sure you do leave yourself enough time to get to the departure gate. We discovered that there is an extra long walk from airport security to departure gate (over 7min walking time) and had to do a bit of rushing to get there.
Stop 1 - Farmers Market
Arriving in Launceston at 8am and ready for breakfast, we headed into the city using the shuttle bus to the weekly farmers market - Harvest Market.
City Park also has a unique free attraction that is definitely worth a visit - Macaque monkeys. These monkeys are native to Japan, curious and highly entertaining creatures - we spent ages just watching their antics.
Stop 3 - Heritage buildings trail There are lots of interesting historic buildings right in the centre of Launceston and some heritage trails available. We downloaded and printed the Launceston Heritage Walks map to help us find our way.
Launceston General Post Office was built in 1880 with the clock tower (known locally as the pepper pot) added in 1906
Built in the 1860s as a grocery shop. In 1918 it was refitted by the Shott family and operated by three generations supplying umbrellas and blackwood souvenirs until the National Trust purchased it in 1978
By this time we were getting hungry and ready for lunch so we picked a restaurant in an old converted flour mill, that overlooked the Tamar River - Stillwater. We opted for a light lunch and the food was local, fresh and delicious. I'd also be willing to go back to this restaurant to try out their dinner menu too.
A ocean trout sashimi egg noodle salad plus a selection of pate, terrine, cheese and bread
Stop 5 - Cataract Gorge Cruise After lunch we opted for a short stroll along the river to Home Point for a 50min Cataract Gorge Cruise with Tamar River Cruises. For $29 per person it was a good deal as we were able to check out the three rivers (North Esk, South Esk and Tamar) and we learnt about the Launceston waterfront in comfort.
Kings Bridge - locals can be found jumping into the river from here
We went right into Cataract Gorge by boat, but once the cruise was over and as it was getting later in the day (takes around 30min one way to walk in to First Basin), we never managed to explore the Cataract Gorge and First Basin by foot - one of Tasmania's top tourist attactions - saved for next time!
The boat went as far as it could go into the gorge
Stop 6 - QV Museum
We decided to finish our trip with a visit to the museum section of the QV Museum and Art Gallery (we had visited the lovely art gallery in the city before we had lunch) before heading to the airport. We arrived at 4pm and discovered that it actually had closed - will have to be for next time.
QV Museum and Art Gallery has 2 sites to visit, the art gallery and the museum
OF NOTE - Check opening and closing times when planning your tip as we got caught out with the museum closing earlier than expected as well as many shops closing by 2pm on a Saturday leaving us with limited options for our afternoon tea.
Around 5pm we grabbed a taxi back to the airport and were back in Melbourne in time for dinner. A wonderful way to spend a day!