Travel Log: Launceston, Tasmania
In my earlier article on Hobart (in the link below), i mentioned that i didn't have the time to explore northern Tasmania. My main purpose of going to Launceston (or "Launie" as affectionately called by Australians) was to see the Cradle Mountains in Tasmania. Launie was a convenient launch pad. But i was surprised that the town had more to offer than being just a stopover place.
Travel Log: Hobart Tasmania
- Travel Log: Hobart, Tasmania
The objective of this article is to share about my honest experiences at Hobart, Tasmania and the surrounding towns with you.
Arriving at Launceston
I arrived at Launceston on a Sunday in April and was greeted with drizzle and cold winds. For me, it was a break from humid Singapore. Gale force winds were sweeping through the town as i checked into my hotel (Balmoral at York). I can still remember the staccato pounding of the wind on the windows as i unpacked my bags. Since it was a Sunday, almost every shop was closed except for an Italian restaurant called Metz which did some good pizza and coffee.
Walking along River Esk
After my lunch at the Metz, i decided to explore the town. The rain began to clear up and the winds had softened as i headed to the River Esk. Launceston is also home to the famous Boag Brewery which is situated near the river. Sunshine was all around as i walked along the bank. There was no one in sight. Birds were chirping and all i can hear was the sound of water and wind. There were a couple of seconds when i felt a sense of calm descending on me. Is this feeling a mental state of heaven?
The rain and gusty winds made a return on the next day. Despite the blustery showers, i walked to the Cataract Gorge and by the time i reached there, the rain had stopped. The Gorge is characterised by huge Dolerite stones that were rounded and chiselled through the passage of water and time. There is a part of the walk which cuts through the woods called Cliff Grounds where you can smell the scent of exotic flowers, trees and birds. I think my trip to Cataract will be lovelier if there was sunshine all around. The rocks would have glowed! The Alexandra Suspension Bridge is a civil engineering marvel that allows one to cross the water basin and make a U turn at the gorge.
Pretty Parks, Boutique Wineries and Culinary Delights
After my trip to the Cataract, i wandered around Launceston and came across the beautiful British influenced City Park. The rains left an air of freshness which made me explore the park. One can't escape noticing the Japanese macaques, the Jubilee Drinking Fountain and the beautiful trees in the park.
It also noteworthy that Launceston's sister cities are not only Ikeda (which gifted the macaques)in Japan but also Napa in California. Beautiful boutique wineries dot the River Tamar area. I found the winemakers down to earth, friendly and eager to market their wines. I also had the opportunity of speaking to the winemaker at the Beautiful Isle Winery. He was willing to showcase his wines and go through the tasting session. I can taste the passion seep into the wine!
Tasmania makes superb food. Even the random cafe at Launie makes above average coffee. I wandered into Mudbar Restaurant which is along River Esk. The slow cooked lamb, a fusion between Asian and Western cuisine was filling and delicious. Other noteworthy dinner choices are Jailhouse Grill and Stillwater. They are quite pricey but well worth it given the top quality of Tasmanian produce.
The Quiet Life
I think Launceston is for people who like leading the quiet life and do their own thing. The local population is small and the people are generally down to earth, friendly and easy to start a conversation with. The town is clean and i can't recall seeing any graffiti. The rolling vineyards near River Tamar and the natural wildlife around the area makes it a pretty place. The town surely speaks to me. In fact, i would sell Melbourne or Sydney and buy Launceston.
Cradle Mountains: The Beauty of Tasmania
The Cradle mountain range is the toast of Tasmania. It was the main reason why i travelled to Launie. I was lucky the weather turned out well because just the day before it rained like crazy in the mountains. I used a coach tour to take me there. The driver of the coach was quite knowledgeable in Tasmanian nature and warned us not to take Tasmanian weather for granted. The weather in the mountains can change fast and it can snow in summer!
The Cradle Mountain is a treasure trove of nature. There are several hiking trails and i chose the easiest Dove Lake Circuit Walking Trail. I am aware that i did not have the physical fitness to embark on the more ambitious climb to the peak. I was not aware of how long the trail is until i was into it. To be honest, even this walk was a bit difficult at some stages due to the slippery paths. I preferred to take it slow and easy, breathing in the mountain air and taking pictures.
Gustav Weindörfer: From Austria to Australia
I always wondered how someone could come from Austria to Australia and eventually become a Tasmanian icon. Gustav Weindorfer was credited with championing the Cradle Mountain area and opening it up to others. Gustav is my hero!
A View from the Top
Another must see tourist site is the Wineglass and Honeymoon Bay. I was already tired after the Cradle Mountain Hike. So i wasn't sure of embarking on this trip the day after. But it's sensible to make the best use of the fine weather as it could change anytime.
Before embarking on this trip, make sure you are reasonably fit as you have to climb a steep slope of stone stairs to the top. One slip up while climbing can see you fall down and get cut by the sharp stone stairs. But you will be well rewarded with the the "wineglass" view once you are at the top!
I am not sure why it is called Honeymoon Bay. It was almost empty which is great as there are less distractions to the rocky landscape and beautiful views!
I was also surprised to see sickly Wallabies looking for food from tourists. I think they got into this state because tourists were feeding them. It is best to leave Wallabies and other wildlife on their own. Don't feed them.
Launceston, Cradle Mountain and the surrounding areas were well worth the visit. It reinforced my belief that Tasmania is a place that i will keep revisiting. Launceston may be a place for me to locate in the future. My next trip will be to the western part of the land which is less accessible.
© 2019 Sivakumar Sathiamoorthy