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After several days touring the magical East Coast of Tasmania, it was back to civilisation on our Tassie trip to Launceston and the Tamar Valley region.
Tasmania’s second largest city sits in the fertile Tamar Valley at the juncture of the North and South Esk Rivers. Its idyllic location at the gateway to the Tamar Valley Food and Wine Trail, means that Launceston offers many fine restaurants and local wines.
Launceston also has many impressive examples of Georgian and Victorian architecture in a city that proudly displays a rich heritage.
An oasis in the city, Cataract Gorge is only 15 minutes walk from the city and offers walking and hiking trails, chairlift ride, steep cliffs, swing bridge, gardens, outdoor swimming pool, cafe, cable hang gliding, rock climbing or abseiling and a cantilevered viewing platform.
The historic Kings Bridge built in 1864, spans the South Esk River at the entry to the Cataract Gorge, and is a popular spot for a photo opportunity down the gorge.
Cataract Gorge is a true wilderness area, even though it is located in the heart of Tasmania’s second largest city. The walk takes about 2 or 3 hours at a leisurely pace, depending on how long you linger at various points of interest.
Take the path on the north side of the gorge to First Basin. This open area has some excellent gardens, the Gorge Restaurant and easy walking paths.
Cross the South Esk by way of the Suspension Bridge (circa. 1940) at the western end of the First basin. But beware it swings from side to side and is high above the river gorge, so it’s not for the faint hearted!
If you’re not into walking or you are short on time take a leisurely cruise down the river through the gorge.
There are three heritage walking trails in Launceston which vary in distance and sights.
We chose to follow the Blue Trail and these were some of the highlights.
Or you can take a stroll along the North Esk Riverbank.
As we were touring Tassie in a campervan we stayed at a nearby Caravan Park at the Big4 Launceston Holiday Park, that was located close to the city centre. However, there are plenty of other accommodation options in Launceston, ranging from luxury hotels to budget hotels, Airbnb’s, B&B’s, holiday apartments and hostels. Launceston is a great base to explore the surrounding Tamar Valley.
North of Launceston, following the Tamar River to the ocean, the Tamar Valley region features some of Tassie’s most awarded wines with its unique range of cellar doors.
Take in breathtaking views from Brady’s Lookout, on the West Tamar Highway, about 20kms north-west of Launceston, and about halfway between Legana and Exeter.
Cross Australia’s first cable-stayed bridge built in the 1960’s, the Batman Bridge spans the Tamar River, and is located at Whirlpool Reach about 38 km downstream from Launceston.
Check out some of the riverside towns like Gravelly Beach, a small country township on the banks of the Tamar River.
The former gold mining town of Beaconsfield, lies 40kms north of Launceston, and was once the richest gold town in Tasmania. Its claim to fame is the Beaconsfield mine collapse of 2006 where one miner was killed and two miners were trapped one kilometre underground for 5 days. The recovery of the Beaconsfield miners was a significant moment in mine’s rescue in Australia.
Whilst you are here visit the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre where you will learn about Tasmania’s mining history.
7 Kms north of Beaconsfield take a detour to the intriguing York Town Historic Site, that was the first permanent settlement in Northern Tasmania between 1804 and 1808. Although the original buildings have all gone, the landscape and natural setting remain largely unchanged and there are interpretive signs around the site detailing the layout and settlement of the village.
Our few days touring Launceston and the Tamar Valley gave us a taste of everything, from fine wines, delicious farm fresh produce, a scenic gorge, breathtaking Tamar River and Valley vistas, Tasmania’s mining past to a whole lot of history of the heritage city. What a lovely area!
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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JulieFebruary 5, 2016
I love that area of Tassie – can’t go past a winery visit or 4 in the Tamar – world class wines!! Am back there again next weekend -can’t wait!!
KathyFebruary 8, 2016
Hi Julie, I loved every little part of Tassie apart from the changeable weather. One day it was 25 degrees and then the next it was 13 degrees and snowing in the mountains! The Tamar Valley did offer some great wineries. :)
Leona MartinFebruary 6, 2016
Thanks for sharing Kathy very informative it will help us when we plan our Tassie trip ?
KathyFebruary 8, 2016
Hi Leona, Tassie was a treasure chest of natural wonders and interesting convict and mining history. You would love the place. :)
budgettraveltalkFebruary 8, 2016
The Tamar Ridge vineyard looks exactly like an area in the southern island of New Zealand where we pulled up in our campervan for lunch. Tassie is certainly a gorgeous place.
KathyFebruary 9, 2016
Tassie did remind me a lot of New Zealand’s wine regions. I guess they are both in the same proximity and share a similar climate. The Tamar Valley was gorgeous! :)
JohannaFebruary 9, 2016
Cataract Gorge is such an awesome place isn’t it? I didn’t know what to expect and it came as a surprise – it’s enormity. The Tamar Valley is indeed beautiful too. We visited the Botanical gardens in Launceston which were very pretty – did you go? Your photos make it all look so lovely and I can’t wait to return one day.
KathyFebruary 9, 2016
Yes who would ever think that there would be a gorge like this within walking distance to a city? We spent at least half a day here and there are walking tracks everywhere. We didn’t get to the Botanical Gardens as we were only there for one day. The Tamar Valley was very scenic and you could easily spend several days exploring this region. :)
Lyn aka The Travelling LindfieldsOctober 8, 2019
Launceston is one of those totally underrated destinations. We spent a week there a few years ago. Amazingly I can’t remember whether we went to Cataract Gorge – surely we couldn’t have missed it. I am about to check our old photos to see!
KathyOctober 8, 2019
Cataract Gorge was like an oasis. We spent a good part of the day here. We also enjoyed checking out a few of the wineries in the Tamar Valley. A very pretty part of the world.
JoOctober 8, 2019
I loved Launceston when we visited in 2012 – time to go back! And I loved re-reading this post again because your lovely photos inspired memories of my own too :) I’ve Pinned to my Australia board :)
KathyOctober 8, 2019
Thank you Jo. Tassie is just one big adventure! I’ve enjoyed both of our trips here but would also love to return to see more.