Weekend In Launceston, Tasmania: Things To Do
Launceston is Tasmania’s second major city, one that holds its own captivating charms and has a few places of interest for travellers to discover. Only a short distance from the city centre, you have the majestic Cataract Gorge that boasts the longest single-span chairlift and a natural formation. Take a 2-hour drive west and you’ll get to the breathtaking Cradle Mountain situated in the central highlands, an area where many hikers venture to.
While it looks like Glenn and I only enjoy tropical resort holidays thanks to our incessant sunbake and pool Instagram photos, we do the cold just as well and will eagerly trade Speedos for fur and beanies. So we pack our bags, head to Northern Tasmania for a winter weekend getaway and make sure our #lifewelltravelled social media feed is kept relevant.
We arrive at Launceston Airport, jump into our rental car – something which you’ll definitely need when you visit Tasmania – and drive to Cradle Mountain on a scenic but windy route. I don’t handle car sickness very well so internal churning quickly turns into spew but I’ll spare you details of my somewhat fabulous projectile.
There are several accommodation choices in the area but we choose to stay at Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village, a self-contained cabin that reminds me of cottage living in the country where farm animals roam. In this case, a couple of curious wallabies who we see wandering into our front yard in the mornings.
The Cradle Mountain landscape is exceptionally stunning to say the least. Although we’re in the middle of winter, there’s only remnants of snow left from previous week’s dusting. The ice-peaked summits stand proud as we hike the Dove Lake Circuit track, one of the many walks you can do. The 6km walk takes us about a couple of hours to complete including photo pit-stops at the iconic Dove Lake Boatshed and other points of interest.
The next day, we drive from Cradle Mountain back to Launceston to visit Cataract Gorge, one of the main must-visit places in town. The spectacular valley features the Alexandra Suspension Bridge, a swimming pool that is crowded with locals during summer and the chairlift that whisks you high above the river and trees. Built in 1972, the chairlift is a great way to take in the sights of the gorge, peacocks and wallabies. Yup, peacocks and wallabies roam the park like a boss while curious on-lookers try eagerly to snap that elusive selfie with the animals.
I love waterfalls and there are a few in Launceston that warrants a visit for that important Instagram snap. Lilydale Falls is a 30-minute drive from the city centre, tucked away in a forest of ferns and magnificently tall eucalypt trees in the town of Lilydale. There are two falls – both a short saunter from the carpark. Don’t expect Niagara Falls – these waterfalls are not huge but for the scenic environment that they’re set in, Lilydale Falls is impressive in its own right.
Unlike Hobart – the first major city of Tasmania, which is a more popular destination thanks to its wider variety of attractions – two to three days is a good amount of time to spend in Launceston. Winter in Tasmania can get extreme but the weather certainly didn’t stop us from visiting. I’m a huge fan of hiking but am conflicted when it comes to sweating so the cold makes the walks more enjoyable. Of course, the snow and autumnal colours also further enhance the Northern Tasmania experience.