Launceston on a budget

Tasmania’s second city is a goldmine for budget travellers.

Aerial view of Cataract Gorge, Launceston. Image credit: Tourism Tasmania/Nat Mendham
  • Jetstar
  • August 2021

Launceston is the perfect snapshot of Tasmania. It has an enviable combination of stunning wilderness and wine valleys, culture and history, amazing local produce and small city charm. And all of these can be enjoyed on a budget break. As one of Australia’s oldest cities, the streets are rich in beautiful colonial and Victorian buildings, and the epic Cataract Gorge is within walking distance. Add galleries, breweries, and the Tamar Valley to that and you’ve got yourself a getaway that’s high on fun and low on cost.

Sample a taste of Launceston at the farmers market

Launceston has an excellent food scene and it’s big on local produce. If your budget doesn’t stretch to eating out every night, do the next best thing and get restaurant-quality produce fresh from the growers. The Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market is an award-winning market that runs every Saturday morning. Grab yourself the fixings for a knockout picnic or lavish dinner at a fraction of the dine-in cost.

People and stalls at Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market. Image credit: Tourism Tasmania/Rob Burnett
Get a taste of Launceston, straight from the producers. Image credit: Tourism Tasmania/Rob Burnett

Lose yourself in galleries and museums

Launceston is an impressive cultural hub, with a range of galleries and museums that are either free or low cost to enter. The major one is the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG), which combines art, history and natural sciences. It’s the largest regional gallery in Australia, with a collection that dates back to 1842. There’s a planetarium and intriguing permanent collections that range from dinosaurs to contemporary design. You can easily lose a day in this house of treasures. QVMAG is at two locations – the gallery is in Royal Park and the Museum is in Inveresk.

A room exhibiting paintings at the Queen Victoria Museum and Gallery in Launceston. Image credit: Tourism Tasmania/Rob Burnett
Artworks at QVMAG, Royal Park. Image credit: Tourism Tasmania/Rob Burnett

Gorge on Cataract Gorge

Launceston’s famous Cataract Gorge is a buffet of wilderness treats. It’s unbelievable that this gem is just a short walk from the CBD. You can go hiking, take a scenic chair lift that floats above the Basin, or go for a swim in an actual pool. Follow the walking tracks up to some peak panoramic platforms to take in the stunning views. Pack some goodies from the Farmers’ Market and have a picnic in the beautiful gardens while peacocks strut about. Budget? What budget?

Immerse yourself in contemporary craft at Design Tasmania

Tap into Tasmania’s creative spirit at Design Tasmania. Established in 1976, this showcase of local ceramics, furniture, jewellery and beyond, is all about contemporary Tasmanian craft. It’s housed in a beautiful, white, historic building with a sleek, modern annex next door. Design Tasmania hosts exhibitions alongside its permanent collection and has a natty design store. While the budget might not stretch to that incredible, one-off light fixture, spending an afternoon amid the innovation is free.

The back view of a person looking at framed artworks at Design Tasmania, Launceston. Image credit: Tourism Tasmania/Chris Crerar
Peruse the best of Tasmanian design. Image credit: Tourism Tasmania/Chris Crerar

Explore historic City Park

Launceston’s City Park is a beautifully maintained, historic park with fountains, gardens, walking paths and a lovely conservatory. There are barbecues, picnic tables – and Japanese monkeys. That’s right, an enclosure of Japanese macaques. Just another Launceston delight. You’ll also find the Radio Museum here, located in a heritage cottage, complete with Australia’s oldest wisteria vine. (Live broadcasting happens in their stables studios). In summer, the park is home to Festivale, a three-day celebration of food and wine, served with a huge line-up of live music, comedy and acclaimed chefs.

Live music performance on an outdoor stage with people dancing in the foreground at Festivale, held at Launceston’s City Park. Image credit: Tourism Tasmania/Adam Gibson
Summertime festivities at City Park. Image credit: Tourism Tasmania/Adam Gibson