Brian Dullaghan
Brian Dullaghan
Travel Tip

Is Launceston the new cool?

Alice Hansen
While visitors flock to the culture capital Hobart to visit Mona and experience the lively southern vibe, is Launceston quietly becoming Tasmania’s new cool? This hip little city with its independent stores, gritty arts scene and urban playgrounds is drawing a new influx of city seekers in the know. Let’s take a closer look at a place fringed with cool climate vineyards with cool peeps at its heart.

Junction Arts Festival

A cracking launch party in a hall, music in dimly lit alleyways and a glowing 19th century French fountain set awhirl by roller skaters. This all happens September 5-9 in Launceston. It’s their biggest program yet, celebrating the art and cultural pulse of this old town. Don’t miss Open House Launceston – your chance to step inside an Egyptian-style synagogue.

crowd watching band perform lights decorations
Junction Arts Festival
Junction Arts Festival, Launceston

Hip Eats

There’s no endless café chains in these parts, but independent doors into quirky spaces. The cheery baristas know how to make a good coffee. Ask a hipster and they’ll direct you to Sweet Brew. Drop in to Flick the Bean Coffee in Riverside if you’re heading out to some wineries. It comes complete with a basketball hoop. Amelia Espresso is a neat little coffee jaunt all about local fare. Head to Earthy Eats for wholesome goodness from local growers. Bryher Café oozes charm with a menu that moves with the seasons. As for dining at Geronimo Aperitivo Bar and Restaurant, it’s simply a must, as is Black Cow for steak lovers. For something sweet, Charlie’s Dessert House even runs the likes of unicorn cupcake classes.

person serving at pastry café launceston tasmania

Urban playgrounds

Some say Launceston is a long way from the water. Not entirely true! Cataract Gorge is the Lonnie local’s wilderness escape right in the city. Rock climbing, guided walks, peacocks, and the longest single span chairlift in the world is right there. Lilydale Falls billows with cascading water and begs for a springtime picnic, just 3kms from Lilydale township. There’s two oak trees there grown from acorns from the Great Park at Windsor.

old fixie bike outside shop lilydale northern tasmania
Rob Burnett
Make your way to Lilydale

Watering holes

With more than 150 local and international craft beers on the shelf, there’s plenty of choice at St. John Craft Beer. Red Brick Road Ciderhouse has the cider lovers covered and on a Boags Brewery Tour one might just learn who James Boag really is. Don’t miss the happenings on Kingsway either. Catch live tunes at Kingsway Bar or one of their street festivals when doors swing open including Earthy Eats for local fresh fare, Acreage (homewares + cafe + Murphy Bloom florist) and a hip barber. Want to be led by a local? There’s the Taste.Walk.Talk Tour with Brock, your local guide. He will show you the best eats and drinks in town.

front of saint john bar launceston tasmania
Tourism Tasmania & Chris Crerar
Saint John Craft Beer, Launceston

Harvest Market

Rise early on a Saturday to reap the harvest. Every week, 8.30am-12.30pm on Cimitiere Street, the market brims with colour, seasonal produce, tunes, blooms, nuts, oils, chatter and more. Pick up a crusty loaf and be sure to lather it in Tasmanian Butter Co. goodness. There are more than 40 passionate producers to meet. With names like Lost Pippin Cider, Humbug Reach Vineyard, Mt Direction Olives and Wandering Gully Blueberries, there are some interesting stories behind the produce. Enjoy a filling brunch and stock up on spring goodies to take away.

Art and design

There’s a very, very high proportion of very, very highly talented furniture designers in Launceston. See some of their work at Design Tasmania and follow up by visiting some at their studios. Lose hours at the QVMAG Art Gallery Royal Park across collections that date back to 1842. The gallery is a blend of visual art, natural sciences, design and history. There’s also a Planetarium to check up on the universe. Saw Tooth Gallery is a contemporary art space ideal for discovering emerging local artists. Head out to Handmark Gallery in Evandale and time this with the Evandale Market for unusual treasure hunting! Sit under the old oak tree with a beer at the Clarendon Arms to sort through your market finds. Cap off the day with a flick at The Star Theatre on Invermay Road with its art-deco facade dating back to 1937.

person viewing abstract artwork at QVMAG launceston tasmania
Sean Fennessy
QVMAG, Launceston

Cool, cool climate vineyards

On the outskirts of Launceston and beyond are vineyards aplenty. At Josef Chromy Wines in Relbia, Go Behind the Label on a curious tour to taste unfinished wines, learn about the winemaking process and be rewarded with a two-course lunch. Those coming with their Tesla can, plug in at family owned Moore’s Hill – Tasmania’s first 100 per cent solar powered winery. In the stunning Tamar Valley, these make wine powered by the sun. Take your time along this wine route and don’t despair if you missed picking up a bottle of pinot. Pinot lover Michele at the aptly named Pinot Shop in town has premium drops from here and abroad.

wine plate josef chromy tamar valley launceston tasmania
Rob Burnett
Josef Chromy, Relbia

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