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Best things to do in Launceston

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by Linda Moon (subscribe)
... a dreamer, freelance writer, massage therapist, naturopath, mother & drop-out social work student living, working and writing in the Blue Mountains. When not occupied with the real world, she writes fantasy.
Published October 27th 2015
An intriguing option for a mini-break or long weekend
Launceston, Tasmania, best things to do,
The iconic Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake.

Launceston might not immediately come to mind when planning a weekend away, but shrewd travelers should take a look at the many rewards to be enjoyed by conducting a mini-break at Tasmania's more Northern and second major city.

With fares through budget carriers like Jetstar as low as $49 from Melbourne, $59 from Sydney and $155 from Brisbane (Jetstar, August 2014) combined with short flying times (just over an hour from Melbourne and under 2 hours from Sydney), Launceston is opening up as an intriguing alternative option for a family weekend away or mini-break.

In fact, interstate visitation to Launceston has been steadily increasing with the city experiencing an increase of 53,000 interstate visitors between 2007-2011 (Launceston Strategic Tourism Plan, 2012).

Launceston, Tasmania, Cataract Gorge, Best things to do in Launceston
Cataract Gorge - five minutes from the city.

Why Launceston?

Affordability
Launceston has cheaper accommodation than many other parts of Australia. The Hotels.com Hotel Price Index (2011) found Launceston hotels amongst the cheapest in the country with an average room rate of $131 compared to $181 for Sydney, $192 for Byron Bay and $187 for the Sunshine Coast.

Launceston's unique flavour
While Launceston is still Australia, it's a unique Australian experience of it's own. Characterised by pristine wilderness and sprawling countryside faintly reminiscent of New Zealand, Launceston possesses a twist of laid-back quirkiness.

As a boutique heritage city with outstanding natural features and some of the best wine and food routes in Tasmania, Launceston offers many varied family-friendly attractions in close range of the CBD.

Visitors can explore wilderness, historical sites, heritage architecture, lavender farms, wineries, caves, rivers, orchards and gardens within close proximity. And, with Launceston airport located only about ten minutes (15 km's) from the city centre, there's more time for sightseeing and less spent sitting in traffic.

Launceston, Tasmania, best things to do in Launceston Tasmania
Cute architecture provides additional eye candy.

The special features of Launceston

History and architecture

Settled in 1806, and experiencing four distinct seasons, Launceston is one of the oldest cities of Australia with many well preserved heritage buildings. Hear the chimes from the post office clock tower reverberate through the city. Enjoy the majestic architecture of the General Post Office and Albert Hall - both built in the 1880's and examples of federation Queen Anne style and high Victorian classical style respectively.

Geography

Launceston's location in the Tamar Valley, 45 km's South of Bass Strait and at the junction of the South and North Esk rivers and the Tamar river, provides many natural features to enjoy. Launceston is surrounded by many hills and mountains including the Ben Lommond mountain range to the East the location of Tasmania's only fully developed snowfield, 60km's from Launceston.

Launceston, Tasmania, best things to do in Launceston Tasmania, Lavender farm,
Gorgeous Bridestowe Lavender farm.

Top attractions and things to do in Launceston

- Take a walking tour of the city's oldest buildings. Grab a map at the Launceston visitors centre.

- A mere fifteen minutes from the city CBD, Cataract Gorge provides a slice of Tassie wilderness and the chance to see roaming peacocks, wallabies and possibly echidnas and other local wildlife. Cross the suspension bridge across the gorge, ramble on one of the walking trails or enjoy the view from the world's longest single span chairlift.

- Drive through the emerald hills of the Tamar Valley taking in pretty riverside towns like Beauty Point. Stop off at boutique wineries, strawberry farms and breweries. Kids will love Platypus House and Seahorse World.

- Detour to Nabowla, the location of Bridestowe Lavender farm. In December and January the flowering fields of lavender are a spectacular sight.

- Get on board a cruise of the Tamar River and explore Cataract Gorge, the river and the riverside precinct by boat.

- Visit the historic town of Evandale - 20 minutes drive (18 km south) from Launceston. Grab some local culture at the popular Evandale Sunday Markets. There's plenty to keep adults and children entertained with pony rides, face-painting and jumping castles on offer and quirky handcrafts, bargain books and toys, clothes, fresh produce and more to peruse.

- Enjoy the magical sight of glow worms and explore underground rivers at Mole Creek Caves (76km west of Launceston).

- Further afield is the pristine beauty of Cradle mountain and Dove Lake in the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park, one of the most popular tourist sites in Tasmania and a part of the UNESCO Wilderness World Heritage area.

- Ramble through the treetops on a high-wire canopy ride at Hollybank Treetops Adventure, 14 km's north-east of Launceton near Lilydale.

- Learn about Beaconsfield's gold mining past at historic Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre (40 km's north of Launceston).

- See the Tassie Devils at Tasmania Zoo in Launceston.

For those interested in visiting Launceston with children, check out my article: Best things to do in Launceston with kids.

Launceston, Tasmania, best things to do in Launceston Tasmania
Don't forget to grab some Willy Washers from Evandale Markets - they come in 3 sizes.
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Why? Cheaper accommodation, short flight time and so much to do close to the city.
When: Summer, autumn and spring are great for the outdoors and there's ski-ing in winter.
Where: Launceston and surrounds
Cost: Accommodation, flights, transport and sights.
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