From history and heritage tours to beaches and bays, there's a lot to love about George Town on the eastern side of the Tamar River. At the top of the coast, only 40mins north of Launceston, it is an interesting little place with plenty of attractions.
Only 40mins north of Launceston
Once you get over the fruitful drive up through berry farms and vineyards, you'll find beauty in abundance in Australia's 3rd oldest city (only beaten by Sydney and Hobart).
Here's some of what you can see and do:-
Venture up to Mount George Lookout
Look for the sign on the way into George Town and head up the hill to discover this historic semaphore (signal) site. It also gives the best photo opportunity of the valley and surrounding districts.
Be sure to stroll along the boardwalk to see the archaeological remains, living quarters and the unique native gardens.
Check out Windmill Point & the carvings
Windmill Point is a family barbecue and play space in town, made interesting by the wooden ship and the pine tree carvings (courtesy of Eddie Freeman).
A great addition to the town
Using a chainsaw and chisel, he has captured George Town's maritime history with the hauling of the submarine cable ashore, along with whales and penguins in fantastic detail and colour.
Lovers of sculpture will delight in this find at 15 Esplanade Nth, George Town.
Visit the Bass & Flinders Centre
Displays of the wooden floating kind are on exhibit in the Bass & Flinders Centre, including a Huon pine replica of the 1798 sloop Norfolk
that the explorers arrived in to ascertain if Tasmania was an island or not. There are many stories that go with this vessel that you can read about here.
Other historical boats in the collection include the Elizabeth
, a replica of the whale boat captained by James Kelly in mapping the west coast of Tasmania; the Tom Thumb
rowing boat brought out by George Bass; and a banana boat surfboard.
A display of Flinders' maps, Bass and Flinders' uniforms, and art from locals, also grace the Centre that is open Mon-Fri 10am-4pm and weekends 11am-2pm (closed Good Friday).
Located at 8 Elizabeth St in George Town, admission is $10 per adult and $4 per child.
Eat fish and chips by Paterson Monument and the river
When in a seaside town, you must have seafood. That's my motto, anyway. We opted for fish and chips from local takeaway shop Dino's
and headed down to the river beside the Paterson Memorial Monument, which lies at the point where Colonel William Paterson and his crew stepped ashore in 1804.
Table and chairs are positioned perfectly for you to enjoy the views and as we sat down for lunch, we had some companions of the feathery kind join us. The hungry seagulls swooped in and were quite determined to eat with us, even hovering mid-air a few times, sometimes two at a time. I was beginning to think of Hitchcock's movie The Birds
. Luckily there was no attack on us as in the movie but I was quite amazed that these birds would venture so close to our faces.
Unexpected companion for lunch
The monument and the birds can be found on Esplanade Nth at the end of Macquarie St, George Town.
Take in the Watch House
Built in 1843, the Watch House was originally the town jail. It was refurbished before re-opening in 2004 as a local history museum and gallery of Tasmanian arts and crafts.
A scaled model village of George Town is featured as it was in the early nineteenth century and a range of displays can be seen that cover the region's rich history, including the acclaimed 'Departures and Arrivals' exhibit describing the Female Factories (which has links to the convict experience).
In the Community History room, there's a wealth of local information for historians and those interested in researching their ancestry.
Open Mon-Fri 10am-4pm and Sat-Sun 1pm-3pm, entry is $3 per adult and $1 per child. Discover it at 84-86 Macquarie St, George Town.
See the Water Tower Mural
The water tower boosting the local tap water pressure was given a makeover in 1985, transforming from a dull grey into a colourful attraction for visitors. Painted by unemployed youth as an International Year of Youth Project, the mural depicts a number of images that include a lighthouse, trading ship, birds, and people engaging in sports, all part of the community and its history.
They may have been unemployed but not without talent
Walk around it at its location in Agnes St, George Town. You can't miss it.
Enjoy York Cove
This is the spot where Paterson ran the HMS Buffalo aground, and apparently unconcerned by this event, duly hoisted the flag, fired three projectiles in the air and played the national anthem.
It became a busy harbour and major trading centre, but nowadays, you'll find fishing and recreational boating popular in the cove.
Peaceful on the cove these days
If you want fine dining with your views of the cove, head to Peppers York Cove Resort for hand-crafted dishes (matched to wines) from executive chef Jason Smith, winner of Australian Good Food Guide Chef's Hat in 2013 & 2014. You can find it at 2 Ferry Blvd in George Town.
Hire a bike, walk or drive alongside the scenic trail
The Kanamaluka Trail runs 6kms from George Town to Low Head (a suburb of George Town) and takes in some of the most beautiful sights along its coastal route, including historic buildings and nature reserves.
Taking the easy way by driving
Walking the trail will take you about 4hrs, whilst cycling will get you all the way in about 2hrs. Bikes can be hired (and maps obtained) from the Visitor Information Centre, open daily, at 92-96 Main Rd in George Town.
If you've got plenty of time or need a breather, then stop at one of the beaches on the way up for a swim or enjoy a picnic in Lagoon Bay before continuing on to Low Head. The bay is a nice spot with free BBQ and toilet facilities.
A nice spot for some relaxation
Arriving at the end of the trail, delight in the waters off Low Head. They're popular for snorkelling and scuba diving. In fact, the area is considered one of the top 5 diving spots in the world, according to National Geographic.
Encounter penguins on a guided tour
A little blue penguin colony at Low Head Coastal Reserve will have your camera clicking away as these cute birds waddle in from the sea to nest in their burrows.
Low Head Penguin Tours offer a unique nature experience that allows you to get up close and personal with the fairy penguins, whilst ensuring the sustainability and safety of the colony. At dusk, a trained guide will lead you on a gentle 3minute walk to the viewing platform overlooking the beach and will enlighten you on the lifestyle and habits of these smallest of penguins that stand just 30metres high.
The tour, for $22 per person, runs every night of the year and can be booked by phoning 0418 361 860.
Revel in maritime history
An area steeped in history
Australia's oldest pilot station, convict-built & dating from 1807, sits on the picturesque Low Head Peninsula. It's a collection of cottages in a gorgeous waterside setting of tall Norfolk Island pines and boating facilities.
The Coxswain's Cottage Cafe also sits on the grounds, as does the Low Head Maritime Museum on Pilots Row. The latter tells tales of shipping on the Tamar River and features historic artefacts in 12 rooms of different maritime interests. With relics from the days of sail and steam, there's everything from a tide recorder to lanterns, a cannon and the largest fire extinguisher I've ever seen.
Lots of interesting items in this museum
Children are encouraged to handle the ship's helm, operate the engine room's telegraphs, ring the ship's bell and send messages in Morse Code from the room where the first telegrams were transmitted to Victoria in 1859.
The museum is open 7 days (except Christmas Day), from 10am-4pm, with adult entry at $5 per person. Concession, child and family rates are also available. You can find it at 411-437 Low Head Rd, Low Head.
Wander around the lighthouse
At the end of Low Head Rd, past the old cable station, is the Low Head lighthouse with superb views that immerse you in the beauty of the area.
Standing majestic at the end of Low Head Rd
It was the third lighthouse to be constructed in Australia and maritime history abounds. The foghorn, a Chance Bros 'Type G' diaphone, is the only operable foghorn of its type in the Southern Hemisphere. Popular with visitors, it sounds every Sunday at noon. You can also see one of the replica semaphore masts which relayed messages between Low Head and Launceston until 1858, along with a very rare Gardner kerosene engine.
All in all, the area is rich in many ways and I'm glad I had the time to discover this part of Tasmania.