Launceston and the Tamar Valley
Launceston is a river city, situated at the point at which the North and South Esk Rivers meet and join the tidal Tamar Estuary. Settled in 1804, Launceston (pron: Lon-ses-ton) was named after the town of Launceston in Cornwall, birthplace of the then Governor of New South Wales, Philip Gridley King.
It was from Launceston that Melbourne was settled. In 1835, John Batman, Lt Col. William Patterson and John Pascoe Fawkner met in Launceston and decided to send Batman across Bass Strait to develop land around Port Philip Bay for what was to become Australia's major southern city.
Many places in both Melbourne and Launceston carry the same names as these early explorers (Batman Bridge, Fawkner Park, Patterson Lakes).
Much of the early architecture of Launceston has been marvelously preserved, and the city parks make it a wonderful place to discover on foot. Launceston's locals take pride in their city, and this is reflected in the way the city is maintained.
For group day tours around Launceston, a good place to start is Launceston Activities and Tours. If you are not driving yourself, a good introduction to Launceston is the Launceston City Sightseeing Tour. If you want to get out into the Tamar Valley, try the Launceston Afternoon Highlights Tour including Wine Tasting. You can also access Cradle Mountain on the Cradle Mountain National Park Day Tour from Launceston.
Launceston is the ideal base from which to explore the restored colonial mansions at Clarendon, near Evandale, and at Woolmers Estate, near Longford. There is a wide range of accommodation, though we always recommend forward bookings to make sure you get the right hotel in the right location. Tasmania.com - Hotels in Launceston is a good place to start looking, but for the full story on Launceston hotels and accommodation, go to Hotels in Launceston.
Historic Houses and Colonial Mansions around Launceston
Launceston during the 1800's quickly became the centre of a fertile, productive farming area spreading south as far as Ross, west as far as Deloraine and backing up against the rugged Western Tiers of the Tasmanian Central Plateau. Rich farmland with a backdrop of pure wilderness.
Migrants from England, hoping to find a better life in Tasmania, did so with gusto, creating some of the finest homes and estates in Australia. Some, such as Fitzpatrick's Inn Westbury in Westbury, and Quamby Estate Lodge at Hagley are now boutique accommodations of some distinction that allow you to experience life as it was in colonial times, but with all the modern comforts required by the discerning traveler of today.
To the south of Launceston lies the well preserved village of Evandale, and further south along the C416 Nile Road, sits Clarendon House, said to be the finest of the Tasmanian Restored Colonial mansions, and rated and protected by the National Trust. It is well worth a visit.
Twenty minutes scenic drive from Launceston brings you to Longford, and here you will find Woolmers Estate, a World Heritage listed property that showcases Colonial Life in a well preserved, authentic setting. The National Rose Garden at Woolmers Estate is a delight, and many of the convict built outbuildings are restored to the condition in which you would have seen them had you just arrived in Tasmania in the 1800's. This is living history at its best.
The Bridstowe Estate Lavender Farm near Launceston
The Bridstowe Estate Lavender farm is one of Tasmania's most spectacular sights during December and January. The lavender fields stretch almost endlessly to the surrounding hills, and the farm is an exceptional experience, especially when the flowers are in bloom. Picnic areas are available, and the process of Lavender farming is explained for visitors. It takes many years to establish a working lavender farm, and the process of growing, harvesting, processing and distilling Lavender oil is explained in an excellent audio-visual presentation at the Visitors Centre.
The cafe at Bridstowe offers light meals and refreshments, including lavender tea. A range of lavender products is available at the gift shop. A visit to Bridstowe Estate lavender Farm is an interesting part of your Launceston experience.
Destinations in Tasmania