If you wanted to create the perfect pocket-sized city, you’d start by making it small enough to stroll around. You might add agreeable old architecture, interspersed with parks, and you’d probably place it somewhere near the water. Downtown you’d give it art galleries, a great museum, enticing places to shop and, of course, excellent eateries. Finally you might arrange some gentle countryside nearby. If you did all that, you might have just created Launceston.
This city really is a gem; having shed its former stolid, country-bumpkin air it's now surprisingly artsy and sophisticated, albeit with a relaxed, rural sort of feel. And remarkable Cataract Gorge brings the wilds into the heart of town. You may find few signs of a rollicking nightlife, but you can hang out in the cool cafes and restaurants on Charles St, get your museum fix at the fabulous Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery, or wander the waterside boardwalks of the Seaport at dusk.
Recommended things to do & see
Our top picks for Launceston
Wonderful, green City Park has enormous oaks and plane trees, an elegant fountain, a conservatory with changing plant displays, a Victorian bandstand and a playground and mini train for kids. A glass-walled enclosure of Japanese macaques, a gift from Japanese sister city Ikeda, will fascinate little ones for hours.
Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery Museum
Inveresk RailyardsRoyal Park Launceston's wonderful museum is on two sites. The stylishly renovated industrial warehouses at Inveresk contain natural and social history and technology-focused collections, and host touring exhibitions (entrance fee). Inveresk is also home to Launceston's Planetarium.At time of writing, the museum's 1890s Royal Park building was undergoing a meticulous renovation to reveal its original Victorian architectural glory. It was expected to reopen in late 2011, housing colonial painting and decorative arts collections.
Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery
The Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery has two campuses. The purpose-built 1891 museum at Royal Park is currently closed, as it is undergoing major refurbishment, and will reopen in 2010 as a home for fine arts; the superb remodelled site at the Inveresk Railyards remains open and showcases an outstanding collection of traditional Aboriginal mareener shell necklaces, an impressive display of early colonial paintings, interactive museum spaces with old aeroplanes and railway workshops, and shifting contemporary exhibits. The popular Planetarium will be relocated to Inveresk site from the Royal Park campus. Both sites have cafes and access for wheelchairs.
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