Launceston and the North East

by : Jenny Brewer

Launceston is one of Tasmania 's most attractive cities, for many reasons. Located in the Tamar Valley , it is also known as 'the garden city' and lies at the intersection of the Tamar and South Esk Rivers . This is one region you can't miss during your driving adventure.

Summer in Launceston brings clear sunny days with no humidity, great conditions for the amazing produce grown in the region. During the rest of the year there are no extreme climate changes, which are perfect conditions for great wine making and a relaxing holiday. As the city streets are lined with seasonal trees, travellers in March to April and September to October are rewarded with colour and beauty.

One of the best ways to see the city centre is to take part in the Launceston Historical Walk. Taking just over an hour, you will enjoy discovering a wealth of history and architecture as you visit each building. Being Tasmania 's second largest city, the shopping and dining is also of an international standard. What also makes the city so unique is its charm and beauty.

Royal Park is worth a visit as it stretches along the riverbank, and opposite is Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery , which displays Tasmanian wildlife.

If you are looking for somewhere to relax and picnic, only a few minutes walk from the city centre and along the river is 'The Gorge' which has Victorian garden displays on one side and a natural pool, kiosk and cliff faces on the other. Finding an oasis such as this so close to any city is rare, and it is well worth a visit.

With ten hectares of wild rainforest, Notley Fern Gorge is another natural attraction close to thirty minutes drive from the city. With century old tree ferns towering above you as you walk the 45-minute track, there is so much to see in this hidden reserve.

Another popular sightseeing alternative is to board one of the cruise boats that leaves from Launceston. Touring up and down the Tamar River , you will be fascinated by the natural beauty of the river system and views of the city. At dusk over forty bird species are known to return to the wetlands, and you may come face to face with some of Tasmania 's nocturnal wildlife.

With a multitude of accommodation options, Launceston is the ideal base to see more of the surrounding countryside. Located close to Cataract Gorge, Edenholme Grange is a Victorian bed and breakfast if you just need a few days to unwind and see the local sights.

Close to 25km north east of Launceston is the Lilydale area, which is known for its beautiful gardens, vegetable crops and vineyards. Although the town's art and craft shops are popular, the region surrounding the town is most appealing.

About ten minutes away is the Lilydale Falls Reserve, which is an ideal picnic stop and short walking track to the falls. There are also camping grounds if you choose to stay for a night or two. For the bushwalkers, Mt Arthur also has scenic walks available which reward the walker with fantastic views.

The now famous Beaconsfield is about half an hour leisurely drive north from Launceston. Known of course for its gold mines, Grubb Shaft is a popular spot for tourists and features an historical museum. Originally, this was of the biggest cities in Tasmania, but now it has settled down to a peaceful and close-knit community.

Launceston is such a magnificent city. Not only does it boast historical buildings, with delightful shopping and cultural experiences in the city centre, but the surrounding natural attractions in every direction are worth exploring at a slow pace and with as many stops as possible to take in this rich and diverse region of Tasmania.