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5-and-a-Half Things to do in Launceston

Home > Launceston > Lists | Escape the City | Travel | Unusual Things to do
by H. Clare Callow (subscribe)
A die-hard Melburnian who keeps being drawn away by luscious food and drinks. Be a pal and click the 'like' link below if you enjoy my article.
Published August 5th 2013
At the risk of a whole lot of backlash, I'm going to put it out there: there isn't a lot to do in Launceston. There's a bit to see, particularly if you're willing to explore the surrounds, but if you don't have a car, don't know any locals to give you a hint, or if you're a lonely backpacker filling in time, Launceston isn't exactly throwing excitement at your feet.
launceston, princes square launceston, what to do in launceston
Princes Square, one of the many things to look at in Launceston. But if you're looking for something to *do*...

Until now. Having spent a rainy weekend in Launceston recently, I made it my mission to find things to do, rather than look at.

1. Challenge yourself to the hill
Overlooking the main part of Launceston is a daunting hill, possibly called Cataract Hill*. Standing in the city centre, wondering what I was going to do here for two days, I felt that hill looking at me. Taunting me. 'You'll never walk along these roads,' it seemed to say;

You call yourself a pedestrian, but you're just chicken.'
Oh yeah, hill?' I said.

Okay, the hill in Launceston isn't actually a magical talking one, but it does make a pretty interesting walk. Both pretty and interesting – many of the houses on the hill are heritage or built to look that way, and the view from the hill itself is fantastic. The gradient of the hill is also steep enough to make you feel like you've achieved something once you reach the top, and a good warm up for Thing To Do #2.

*My apologies for the lack of certainty on this point. I have searched for the name of the hill overlooking Launceston, but the closest there seems to be to a name is 'the hill overlooking Launceston'. A photograph of the area from 1890 uses the name 'Cataract Hill' but I freely admit that the connection is tenuous. Any locals who can provide me with a correct name have my thanks.

2. Sample the beer

tasmania beer, boutique beer, boutique beer australia
Formerly one of Tasmania's many fine beers
One thing Tassie has is a good beer industry. I don't mean the boutique industry that's cropping up around the rest of the country, but a good solid beer industry. Tasmanians are used to drinking decent beer as a standard, and so their specialised beers tend to be far above decent.

Launceston is home to the J Boag and Son Brewery, and taking a tour of the factory could count as a thing to do. However, I took the much easier route of going to a pub that served lots of beer (the Cock'n'Bull, on Elizabeth Street). I did venture outside the state, tasting-wise, but I was deeply impressed by the range available at this pub. I still carry fond memories of the hand-pumped Four Pines Amber Ale.

3. Eat on Charles Street
Launceston is a small city, but it's just like other cities in that the best food isn't in the centre of town. Wander up Charles Street, however, and you'll find a bunch of interesting little cafés, restaurants and other interesting foodie places. It's also home to Burger Got Soul, which bravely opens at 11am every day of the week and thus has my approval for assuming there are desperate burger hunters out there if only someone could provide for them.

4. Go on the Ghost Tour
Not everyone is up for a night out at the pub, and that's why it's good to know that there is at least one other option available: the Ghost Tour. These tours depart nightly after the sun goes down and are a decent way to spend the evening. Like many city ghost tours, this tour incorporates local history with a few grisly stories. The tour does go the extra mile, though, with some special effects. The company also runs a daytime tour without the ghost stories.

5. Coffee taste at Coffee Republic
When you're stuck in the mall area in the centre of Launceston, and the chill wind blows past icy and swift, one of the best things to do is duck into Coffee Republic. They offer some of the better coffee in Launceston, as well as some decent hot chocolate. They also roast their own beans. The shop is quite small so it can be difficult to get a seat, but if you're there during a lull it's a perfect spot to sit, read, and soak in the ambient caffeine.
Note: My apologies to Amelia Espresso, which by all accounts is a damn fine café. I didn't get to visit it, so I can't report on it myself.

5b. Take yourself on a heritage walk
One thing Launceston is absolutely swimming in is colonial history. A short walk around the city can be an education if you're really looking. Read Launceston's surprisingly interesting Wikipedia entry as you go.

And for something different, sit and read Terry Pratchett at the junction of the North Esk and South Esk rivers when you're done. I didn't do this, but I have the excuse of not having my copy of Equal Rites with me.
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Why? When you're in Launceston...
Where: A fine Tasmanian city
Your Comment
I confess: you got me with the "half"; great article.
by Dayna Chu (score: 3|1480) 1123 days ago
I love Launceston (don't live there but visit), but I agree, there isn't a huge amount to do. Cataract Gorge is beautiful!
by Samantha Jeffree (score: 2|194) 1510 days ago
What about Cataract Gorge walks and the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery?
by terra (score: 0|2) 964 days ago
I enjoyed the article particularly as i do not drive .
Now i know what to look for when i holiday in Launceston.
Thanks.
by peter (score: 0|2) 406 days ago
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