Tucked away in the middle of the City Park (originally called the People's Park) in Launcestion is an attractive building that, for me, deserves more publicity, particularly if you're visiting in spring.
The reason is that inside is a glorious array of orchids in a multitude of colours and you can view them all for free.
The conservatory dates from 1820 which gives some idea of how wealthy Launceston was even from the early days. The Ciry Park itself was developed originally by the Launceston Horticultural Society and handed over to the city itself in 1863.
Fondest memory: The John Hart Conservatory is open weekdays from 8.30am - 4.30pm and weekends from 9.00am - 4.30pm (April - September) and from 9.00am - 5.30pm (October - March).
This impressive edifice is situated on the corner of Tamar and Cimitiere Streets and is owned by Council and operated by the Hotel Grand Chancellor. The Great Hall, Tamar Valley and John Duncan rooms are hired for a vast array of events, from school balls, university graduations and awards nights, to antiques fairs, concerts and major conferences. There is also an adjacent cafe overlooking City Park.
Built in 1891 to house the Tasmanian Industrial Exhibition, the Albert Hall is one of Launceston's most significant heritage buildings. The corner stone was laid by Samuel John Sutton, Esq. who was Mayor of Launceston on 2 April 1890. The exhibition itself was designed to ease the social misery caused by the depression of the 1880s. The opening ceremony in November, 1891, was preceded by a parade 10 city blocks long, led by the Mayor John Gould on a symbolic white horse.
Fondest memory: The historic Brindley organ
The Brindley organ is situated in the Great Hall and was featured in the celebrations. "Nearly 2000 pipes, 30 pedals, 27 stops and a million parts seemed like a lot of trouble to go to create a single musical instrument".
It is Australia's largest surviving organ pre-dating 1860, a rare example of the work of organ builder Charles Brindley and is the oldest community organ. Built of local timbers including blackwood and huon pine, the organ's bellows are lined with original kangaroo skin.
Believed to be the only one of its type in the world when installed in the Mechanics Institute, the organ originally was hand blown "by two strong men or one exceptionally strong man". In being relocated to the Albert Hall, it was later powered by water and has since been adapted to run on electricity, with water as a backup.
Sadly, unless you have special permission, the building is not open to the public.
Most of the following comes from the Council's excellent site:
"The Council commissioned architect Mr Peter Mills to design the Victorian Italianate-styled Town Hall in 1864. It cost $6,000 to build.
Launceston's Town Hall is one of few mid-Victorian buildings still used for its original purpose. The ground floor of the original building contained the Council Chamber and municipal offices, and it had a concert hall and meeting room on the upper floor. The building was first occupied in 1867.
Town Hall modifications
The Town Hall has been extended and its interior modified several times, first in 1906 (at a cost of $3,914), to accommodate a rapid increase in the Council's operations. The major addition to the original building occurred in 1936 (at a cost of more than $6,000), when vacant land on the north side of the original building became part of the Town Hall complex.
While these extensions changed the building's size, the design features of the original architecture were kept. Five Corinthian pillars were added to the original four columns in 1936 and an iron fence in front of the Town Hall steps was removed. The three pillars at the northern end of the portico, and the southern-most column, are the four pillars and pedestals from the original building.
Fondest memory: Town Hall additions
During 1970 a new wing was added to the western side of the Town Hall. A fire destroyed most of the contents of the City Engineer's Drawing Office housed in the wing on the night of 28 February 1978, with only the quick action of the Launceston Fire Brigade saving irreplaceable city records kept since 1890.
The Aldermen's Car Park, between the Town Hall and the Annexe, was formerly the Wilcox Mofflin building - a wool and skin merchant business and small warehouse built around the turn of the twentieth century. It was demolished in 1982 after being purchased by the Launceston City Council. Before the completion of the Civic Square in 1982, the Aldermen's Car Park was located on the western side of the Town Hall."
Frankly, I think the Renaissance style facade is a stunner though when it was being built it caused controversy.
According to the promotional blurb, it is a matter of considerable argument among Tasmanians as to which is the prettiest waterfall in their State - Russell or Liffey Falls?
Liffey Falls State Reserve is set within cool temperate rainforest on the slopes of the Great Western Tiers; framed by the dominant species of Tasmania's cool temperate rainforests - myrtle, sassafrass and leatherwood. The falls are understandably a popular spot among both Tasmanians and visitors alike. A 1 hour return nature walk leads from a picnic area near the carpark down through forests of towering eucalypts and tree ferns to the falls. A number of smaller falls and cascades are passed along the way.
Personally, I think other falls should come into consideration, such as Mathinna, but it's not on the main tourist itinerary.
Fondest memory: The Liffey Falls State Reserve was included within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area in 1989, a tribute to the globally significant value of the region. The site reveals a rich human heritage and insights into the forces which shaped the landscape over the past 250 million years.
The picnic area lies within the Liffey Forest Reserve, which is managed by Forestry Tasmania and there's also a modern sculpture there. A short way along the walking track to Liffey Falls you cross into the State Reserve, which is managed by the Parks and Wildlife Service.
Liffey Falls are nestled in the Great Western Tiers about an hour's drive from Launceston and 1 1/2 hours from Devonport. For many years the falls were only accessible by track some distance from below the falls. The track still exists. There is now a reserve only a short walk from above the falls. A narrow winding steep gravel road links each end of the track. The walk is very much worth the trip. The track from the upper car park is a little steep in parts - particularly the final descent to the bottom of the falls.
From Launceston the lower end of the track is accessed via Bracknell. There are few facilities at the lower end of the track. A new very clean toilet has recently been constructed here. The drive from here to the upper car park take nearly as long as it does to walk to the falls. The upper car park has a BBQ, toilets and fresh water. There is some dirt road to be traversed and the last few kilometres is a bit narrow.
Located at 81 Cimitiere Street, Launceston is a heritage listed building that had been vacant for two years. It was founded back in 1883 as the Baptist Tabernacle church and was unwanted.
Fondest memory: These days, spruced up by the world's largest rural bank, it shines its light once more upon Cimitiere Street.
I took many shots (nothing new there) of several of the historic buildings in Launceston but have had much difficulty tracking down their provenance.
However, many of Launceston's finest are listed in a brochure that can be obtained for free from the Tourist Information Centre.
Located at 34-38 Paterson Street, the Pilgrim congregation welcomes visitors from across Australia and across the world. Pilgrim uses a contemporary liturgy where the historic pipe organ, piano and the Pilgrim singers all offer their gifts in creative harmony. It's adjacent to the Church Walk we're there's also a cafe.
Of heritage significance is St. Andrews Prebyterian Church which is a fine proportioned stuccoed brick church with Gothic details and tower on eastern side supporting a delicate freestone octagonal spire. The walls are buttressed with angled buttresses on corners. All buttresses topped with pinnacles. Fine pipe organ - Walker 1867. You can find it at 36 St John St Launceston
Fondest memory: Included here are ones I couldn't get information about but would like to share with you anyway.
38 St. John Street is where you'll find the lovely refurbished Bendigo Bank building.
Situated in the heart of Launceston, Apartments At York Mansions is an imposing National Trust classified, 1840's Georgian Mansion with a large private garden dominated by an impressive English Oak of such age and branching grandeur, that it too, has been classified by the National Trust..
The apartments were restored using decorative painting techniques such as trompe l'oeil,marbling and stencilling, and incorporate theAntique and reproduction furniture, a fascinating collection of old china, silverware and collectibles, open fireplaces and French doors leading to iron lace balconies add to the charm of these Georgian apartments. original cedar mantlepieces and doors. Behind the mansions there is a large cottage garden where guests are free to use the barbecue settings. The grounds are dominated by the aforementioned English Oak
At Cataract Gorge I really enjoyed seeing the peacocks (they are a fairly common bird to see in some parks in Australia but I always marvel at their brilliance anyway).
I thought this one was quite shy and offered him a little bread...but then when my attention was diverted from him for just a second, he decided to help himself and try to take lunch right out of my hands!