The ultimate guide to Launceston

The ultimate guide to Launceston

Josef Chromy, Launceston

A riverside city in northern Tasmania, a noted food and wine region with a side serving of excellent scenery, Launceston is the state’s second largest city.

Whatever you do, though, don’t upset the locals by revealing yourself to be some kind of “Mainlander” by incorrectly pronouncing Launceston: it’s “lonn” not “lawn”. Get that right, and you’ll have a great time down there.

Want to have an even better time? Check out some of the offers and deals RACV Members can enjoy when travelling there as well.

Cataract Gorge

With around forty per cent of Tasmania being protected national parks and reserves, you’re never too far from some natural scenery.

In Hobart, a ten-minute drive and you’ll be at waterfalls, but Launceston beats that, with the magnificent Cataract Gorge being a mere 1.5 kilometers from the city centre.

Strutting peacocks will greet you in the car park, and then there’s a swimming pool surrounded by lawn that’s ideal for picnics and barbeques, while a cafe and restaurant in the area adds to your options.

The world’s longest single span chairlift will take you across the South Esk River, providing views of the Gorge and First Basin, or you can explore the surrounding wilderness via the walking and hiking trails, which will take you to panoramic lookouts.

Last November, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) named Launceston a City of Gastronomy under its Creative Cities Network.

The designation means that northern Tasmania, famed for its paddock to plate food culture, is recognised as being one of the world’s best food destinations. The only other Australian town to join them on this prestigious list is Bendigo.

To sample some of the best in Launceston, try Stillwater. One of Tasmania’s most awarded restaurants, Stillwater, right on the river at the mouth of Cataract Gorge, offers casual fine dining in a stylishly renovated flour mill that’s almost two hundred years old.

The same team behind Stillwater also runs Black Cow Bistro, with a much meatier menu, in the heart of the CBD. Also, worth trying in the city are the Chef Hat awarded Geronimo Aperitivo Bar and Restaurant, Mudbar and Brisbane Street Bistro. Or you can head further out to.

Tamar Valley

The Tamar River is a tidal estuary that runs from Launceston to Bass Strait, and on either side of this 60-kilometre stretch is the rolling hills of the Tamar Valley.

A foodie’s mecca, this cool climate wine region is known for its crisp whites and pinot noir, which you can sip along the Tamar Valley Wine Route, which features more than 30 vineyards and wineries.

Locavores are also in luck, with the rich agricultural land producing gourmet goodies galore, served up by the 60 food operators in this picturesque area.

RACV Members can enjoy discounts on winery lunches or enjoy local food and wine on a river cruise.


Peacocks at Cataract Gorge is one thing, but monkeys in the middle of the city is a whole other – and yet that is one of things Launceston is famous for, its troop of Japanese macaques. Gifted by Lonnie’s sister city Ikeda, there’s more than 20 of them living in an enclosure in City Park.

More animals can be found at Tasmania Zoo, a twenty minute drive west, while Seahorse World is a 45 minute drive north, up to Beauty Point. A working seahorse farm, you can see these fascinating little creatures in all life stages, from tiny babies to pregnant adult males, plus other marine creatures are on display in their aquarium.

RACV Members can also get a guided tour. If you prefer animals in their natural habitats, The Tamar Island Wetlands has plenty of birdlife ten minutes from town or further out, Narawntapu National Park on the coast has kangaroos, wallabies and pademelons.