Launceston Things to Do

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    Chapel - Entally House
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    Endangered green and gold frog
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    by sirgaw

Most Recent Things to Do in Launceston

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    Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre

    by sirgaw Written Jun 7, 2014
    The scene we all knew so well from TV
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    In 2006 there was a rock fall in a gold mine at Beaconsfield some 42 km north of Launceston and close to the West Tamar Road (A7). That rock fall was 950 metres underground and killed one miner and trapped in a rock tomb 2 miners Todd Russell and Brent Webb for 2 weeks. Australia held its breath and I woukd assume the events of freeing those trapped miners was covered in the world wide media.

    Until then I, and probably most of Australia, had never heard of Beaconsfield. Neither had many heard of the man who became the voice of the unions on TV and radio, Mr Bill Shorten. As the drama unfolded on national TV and the interviews with Mr Shorten, I commented to Lady Gaw that one day Bill will be elected to Australian parliament AND will become leader and maybe Prime Minister. I’m not a labor voter, but I really thing that Bill Shorten will become PM.

    The mine closed down and a year or so later re-opened as the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre and today is a major tourist draw card for the town.

    There are a number of sections of the centre and include:
    1. Mine Rescue – a large area given over to the events that lead to the rescue of the 2 miners, including a rock mock-up of their tomb and the 2 pipes that were drilled to reach them and then to rescue them. There are interesting display panels on all aspects of the rescue.
    2. Life and Times – in reality this is a museum of very interesting artifacts from various eras that showcase the history of the Beaconsfield area.
    3. Ruin site – although the Beaconsfield events of 2006 centred on a modern working mine, the site has been mined for gold for around 120 years. Much of the original mine equipment had remained within the crumbling walls of the infrastructure. A fascinating place to visit and does include an ore crusher powered by a large water wheel that does work.
    4. Mine Holographic Experience – great for kids of all ages, the experience gives an excellent and safe idea of working conditions deep underground. Stand at the ‘cage’ entrance, hit one of a number of buttons and the display comes to life in sight and sound.

    I’m suggesting visitors should allow about 2 hours visiting most of what is on offer. Well stocked book/gift shop and very friendly staff and volunteers.

    I wonder if the price per person of adults $12, Concession $10 and kids $4 is better pay dirt than mining for gold and without the danger.

    Suggest the bakery (turn left onto West Tamar Road after leaving mine site) worth while for a fill up of the tummy tank after all that gold experience – and across the road from the bakery is a very interesting shop displaying and selling minerals of all shapes, sizes and prices.

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    Queen Victoria Museum – Blacksmith Shop

    by sirgaw Written Jun 6, 2014
    Blacksmith Shop
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    In July 1994 the former railway workshops at Inveresk closed down and left a huge legacy of buildings, all of which were centred on the Tasmanian Railways. Most of the buildings are closed to the public and I could only wonder at their contents.

    One building that has been left as it was the day the men finished their last shift is the Blacksmith Shop – and contains an amazing array of machinery, forges, presses etc all designed to shape metal into parts of trains. They even left the cobwebs intact so the spiders could happily continue their work.

    OK the displays are static and there is a metal walkway laid out that is almost a maze winding though and just the machinery waiting to start up for the next shift. Sadly that will never happen, but stand still, close your eyes and the sounds of those machines and men are there in a noisy cacophony of banging, sawing and all manner of noises associated with an industrial site – including men’s voices and the occasional raucous laughter as a bawdy tale is told. There’s even a old AM radio (FM radio would not be tolerated here – LOL) belting out the days horse race at whatever racetrack so the ghost of that racing fan blacksmith could hear if his horse finished first and euphoria or – damn you horse – cold motherless last.

    In all there are 18 large machines on display and even the men’s changing and showering rooms have been left intact – the lockers are just sitting there waiting for the next shift load of smelly workers clothes.

    The panel at the entrance said: “You never wore overalls in the summer time, all we wore was a pair of trousers and a blue singlet and probably a leather apron and sweat used to absolutely pour off you, every fire would be going. Used to be a filthy place to work.”

    I doubt if the younger generations of today could fully understand in this modern world of purchasing replacement parts off the shelf, just how they made all those parts on those noisy, dirty and probably dangerous machines.

    An amazing place to visit – and particularly for men.

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    Queen Victoria Museum

    by sirgaw Written Jun 6, 2014
    Imposing main entrance
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    To give it the full title the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery is a great asset to Launceston. Their own web site states: ‘Australia's largest regional museum.’ Having spent over 3 hours at one of the two major sites, I can understand that proud claim. We visited the QVMAG Museum at Inveresk and that included time in the Blacksmith Shop (separate tip).

    First stop was the ‘Phenomena Factory’ a place for kids of all ages (Sir and Lady Gaw included) to have a good old play with items that can be cranked, pulled, pushed etc in order to show science to enquiring minds in a fun and interactive way. We really had to drag ourselves away.

    Next stop was ‘Tasmanian Connections’ a large 2 story atrium structure which displayed all manner of items and mostly related to Tasmania – although there was a display of death masks and they included Frederick the Great, King of Prussia 1712 – 1786 and Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French 1769 – 1821. How did those get to Launceston? They were part of a much larger collection from the Beattie Museum in Hobart and purchased in 1927. Having spent too long as a taxi driver in my own city, I was fascinated with the museums collection of panels relating to the cab trade as well as an original horse drawn 4 wheel wagonette.

    Lady Gaw set off on her own to investigate what interested her – and that included a display of some of the bird life found in Tasmania. We spent far too much time chatting to a very friendly and humours staffer, who seemed to have a story for every exhibit.

    We were on almost museum overload, so we took time out to have a tasty but slightly overpriced lunch and coffee at the excellent Railway Café, which was partly within an old Tasmanian Railways refreshment carriage.

    Lunch break over, we then visited some of the outdoor science exhibits and trying not to play too much before venturing into the grimy Blacksmith Shop and a wander around the former railway workshops.

    While Lady Gaw visited the Planetarium and Southern Skies exhibits, I busied myself with all manner of things train in an exhibit called Transforming the Island and how the railways have been such an important part of the development of the state. One static train on display included a flat top wagon and chained to it was a 1958 FC Holden complete with little fake dog sitting and guarding the back parcel shelf. The accompanying sign indicated that the train was the only way into parts of the west coast from the north until 1964.

    The museum has a great gift shop and it was even better in that Lady Gaw was gently persuaded not to buy anything we really didn’t need - LOL

    We just had to leave as we really wanted to see more of Launceston, although we would have happily stayed until closing time – and returned the next day. Depending on your interests, allow several days to see all that is on offer at the excellent museum – free admittance too.

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    Cataract Gorge Chairlift

    by sirgaw Updated Jun 6, 2014
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    Sadly Lady Gaw is a wimp when it comes to anything that defies gravity. Chairlifts, Ferris wheels, roller coasters and the like are top of the list of, ‘I don’t do’s. As a result poor unfortunate Sir Gaw had to go on the excellent Cataract Gorge chairlift with no one to talk too, but the ride and the resultant scenery really was worth-while.

    I started the chairlift trip from the northern chairlift terminal and almost immediately I was in what seemed like a rain forest of Rhododendron plants, which would have been a very spectacular sight in flower. From there the chairs almost silently passed over nearly all of the features of ‘The Basin’ – I could even hear the noisy calls of Pea Cocks and Hens as they strutted around in their spectacular regalia.

    I arrived at the southern and main chairlift station where the guy in charge seemed to have a bit of an attitude problem – unlike his very friendly counterpart some 500 metres away.

    After I had paid my money and received my souvenir ticket (half becomes a post card), I just had to get into an argument with a local about the famous Launceston chairlift after viewing the sign attached to a concrete ‘thing that holds up the chairlift’:
    Me, “The longest section is only 308 metres long. They have longer ones in the European, Canadian and American ski areas don’t they?”
    Him, “They’re gondolas, this is a chairlift!”
    Me, “So don’t people sit in gondolas? I’m sure I saw a James Bond movie and people sat in the thing that went to the mountain top.”
    Him, “I saw the film too mate. That was a gondola MATE and this is a (expletive deleted) CHAIRLIFT MAAATTE!!!!”
    Judging by the way he was talking quite loudly, he seemed to be getting a little cross and so I decided to beat a hasty retreat. Moral – don’t ever mess with chairlift aficionados MATE!!!!!

    I returned to the chairlift station and read all the rules of engagement and mutely (for a change – LOL) followed all the directions from the attendant. He, after all had power, and for revenge could have stopped the thing when I was at the highest point and made me jump – LOL

    The return trip was just as spectacular as the forward journey and with the exception of the guys with the attitude problems was a great trip.

    There are 3 prices - adults, concession card holders and children and either single or return trips offered. Seems from the web site that the chairlift operates every day of the year including Christmas day and every Sunday – would those Ladies of yore turn in their collective graves if they heard the Sabbath was being compromised - LOL

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    Spectacular Cataract Gorge

    by sirgaw Updated Jun 6, 2014
    So much beauty created long ago.
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    Cataract Gorge really is a must see attraction for visitors to Launceston. The gorge was the reason for the citing of the city as boats were unable to navigate any further up stream along the very wide but shallow Tamar River.

    The gorge area really is in 2 parts – the almost natural bush land section with the spectacular gorge running through. The bush section is home to many seemingly very tame wallabies and other wild life. The second section, which attracts most visitors, is the basin and cliff ground where over a century ago forward thinking town planners created a luxuriant oasis of magnificent imported trees – spectacular in autumn, tree ferns, impressive rotunda, tea room, café, rolling lawns with great scenes, swimming pool and much more. The river was partly dammed creating a scenic water feature with a gurgling overflow at the end of the small lake. Two more modern features are the worlds longest single span chairlift (separate tip) and an inclinator for those unable or unwilling to walk up and down the steps. As time was short I did not visit the inclinator.

    We somehow managed to visit Cataract Gorge from the north, rather than the more popular southern entrance. We had visited attractions along the West Tamar Road (highway A7) and returned to Launceston along the same road and I can say that there are no direction signs for the gorge. With assistance from some helpful ladies ‘disgorging’ (LOL) directions, we drove down the steep and winding Gorge Road to a small car park and then took on the challenging ‘Maple Steps’ (sign said ‘5 minutes steep’). We admired the picturesque ‘Music Pavilion’ (now-a-days called a rotunda), saw wallabies and then sauntered down to ‘The Gorge Restaurant’ where we saw they had an outdoor section to buy a coffee. We had brought along our own food hoarded during our 15 days that needed to be finished up – including yummy almond fingers. As we were eating we were harassed by hungry peacocks and hens whose eyes said, ‘Please share’ and we did – LOL

    I had a quick there and back on the chairlift while Lady Gaw admired plants. I tried to get SWMBO to do a quick lap of the basin, but sadly the quite safe suspension bridge was not to her ladyships liking.

    As light was fading and we could feel a real nip in the late autumn air (the temp dropped to 1 deg C that night), we decided we should retrace our steps and head back, but we just had to have another stop at the Music Pavilion and had a laugh at the interpretive panels inside. One related the days of yore when Sunday was a day of reflection and the nearby grassed area known as Fairy Dell contained swings, sea-saws and maypoles was all chained up to prevent their use. The rest of the week strict rules applied and ‘boisterousness of bad language was not tolerated.’ As far as the discharge of firearms, using catapults or playing games was concerned, don’t even think of it - to use a modern expression. They were ‘different’ days back in 1896 when the rotunda ‘Was created by a Committee of the Ladies of Launceston and presented to the Cataract Cliff Grounds.’ Maybe the same Ladies also drew up the rules which defined ‘pleasure’ in a different light to today. A little plea to those Capitol L Ladies of yore – please somehow return and re-introduce at least some of the strict rules you had in force. I believe the world would be a better place if those values returned to today fast pace.

    Cataract Gorge and ALL it has to offer is a wonderful addition to Launceston and truly is a great asset for the city – and so close too. Allow DAYS to fully enjoy.

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    Batman Fawkner Inn

    by sirgaw Updated Jun 5, 2014
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    I visited the Batman Fawkner Inn for no other reason than the historical significance to my own city of Melbourne, Australia. It was in the hotel that formally stood on the site of the Inn that the founding fathers of Melbourne met with the intention of setting up a settlement.

    By 1835 much of the good land in northern Tasmania had been taken up and so Messer’s John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner were jointly and severely looking northwards across the Bass Strait to the un-settled areas where Melbourne now stands. History buffs may like to research further and a start off point is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Melbourne

    OK enough of the history.

    We entered the foyer area of the Inn, which is now a backpacker’s hostel and browsed around and took a few photos. The manager on duty was asked if OK to take photos and seemed friendly enough. I cannot make any comments on the establishment but have included web and contact details if you are looking for back packer accommodation.

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    Old Umbrella Shop

    by sirgaw Written Jun 4, 2014

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

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    The National Trust throughout Australia and many other countries keeps alive and as intact as possible all manner of old buildings, many of which are kept open as museums (I’m also a volunteer National Trust guide at a location in my own city)

    The old shop is now operated as a retail museum, “the shop now houses displays about the family, umbrellas and the wood souvenirs, many of which were made on the premises. The Shop is also well known for the large range of umbrellas stocked for sale as well as a variety of National Trust and Tasmanian products.” (From web site below)

    The shop is run by volunteers who are in the main, ‘of the older generation of ladies’ (my words) who dispense great advise about what to see and do in and around Launceston as well as selling various souvenirs and hand crafted goods. Great shop to browse for something different. Open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm and Saturday 9am – 12 noon. Admission is FREE, but a donation to the National Trust is always welcomed.

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    Launceston Tram Museum

    by sirgaw Written Jun 4, 2014
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    I’m sorry to admit that we did not go to the Launceston Tramway Museum, but rather drooled over a beautifully restored tram and chattered to at least 2 of the hard working volunteers who were busy with secret men’s tram business outside.

    Admission price to the museum includes a ride on the ‘old rattler’ as per photo above. Nearly all trams around the world (*) run on overhead tram wires – yes they are ugly – and the tram that runs up and down the line to/from the museum USED to run on the overhead wires. If you look at photo 1 you’ll see the pole with pick up wheel attached to the front and top of the tram, which ran on Direct Current (DC) power. The return path for the power was via the tracks. Being in Launceston the guys came up with an ingenious solution to the problem of the power and all those expensive wires (millions of $ I was told) – at the front of the tram (photo view) is a power cart, which has a diesel engine connected to an electrical generator. You can see the power cables in photo 2. The tram pushes the cart in one direction (electrical motor is in tram) and pulls it in the return journey – well-done to the guys who dreamt up that solution.

    From their brochure, “A ride on old Tram 29 will bring Launceston back to life, complete with rattles, jolts, bumps and squeaks.” Sounds like real fun and I’m sorry I just could not go that day.

    Museum and tram ride open 10am – 4pm November – April: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday Saturday and Sunday. May – October: Wednesday, Friday Saturday and Sunday

    (*) There is a new tram system in parts of Europe where they have a middle ‘rail’ consisting of metal dots in the roadway between the 2 tracks. There is a complicated switching system that switches power off and on as the tram passes over – sorry can’t give any technical details, but did see the system in operation in Bordeaux, France, some 7 years ago.

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    City Park

    by iandsmith Written Nov 16, 2013
    City Park
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    Wonderful park. Why don't you drop in here while everyone else is over at Cataract Gorge? There's Japanese macaque monkeys, Design Centre, John Hart Conservatory (with beautiful orchids) and a lovely park to boot. At one edge is the Albert Hall, another of Launceston's architectural delights.

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    Motorcycle Museum (& Harley Davidson)

    by DSwede Written Mar 2, 2013
    Old Harley's on display

    Just outside of town, there is a Harley-Davidson dealer. Aside from the bike enthusiasts and possible collectors of H-D, it is a worthwhile stop for those who appreciate old motorcycles. Upstairs in the shop, there are more than a dozen old vintage and rare motorcycles and even H-D bicycles on display.

    Cost is free and visitation is during normal business hours.

    And for those who visit with an appetite, there is a decent pub style restaurant in the shop. They call it the Iron Horse Bar & Grill

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    Shopping Street full of Pillows and Ghosts

    by DSwede Written Feb 11, 2013
    Ghostly Pillows

    In all the items here on VT in the list of things to do, nobody really commented on the downtown pedestrian shopping streets. Even if you don't need to go shopping, its a good idea to stretch the legs on these easy streets and get a feel for the town.

    If you research the town, you may learn that there are some ghost tours. Now someone obviously must have had a sense of humor because they put these 'ghosts' right into the heart of downtown.

    If you come across these large 'pillows' in the downtown mall, look closely at the underside and you will see they have been shaped with some faces. Now even take it one step further - give one of them a kick and there is a voice activation giving some funny one liners.

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    VISIT THE TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRE

    by DennyP Updated Feb 29, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    ALWAYS GOOD TO SEE...THE INFORMATION SIGN!!

    LAUNCESTON
    When arriving in Launceston ..first thing to do is visit the Tourist information Centre where I found friendly advice as to what to see and do..There are road maps of the city and outlying areas clearly showing all major attractions and giving you all the information that you will need..I booked my tour of the BOAG Brewery here..

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    Art Gallery

    by iandsmith Updated Jan 8, 2012
    The splendour of the Art Gallery

    This Victorianate building opened in 1891 as Launceston's Museum and Art Gallery. It bears the title "Museum" across the main entrance still but these days is much more art gallery, having been designated as such in September 2011.
    At the same time it re-installed the popular Guan-di Temple which holds stuff from many temples in north east Tasmania that were located in mining towns in the 19th and 20th centuries.
    The temple was actually at Weldborough but when it closed in 1934, the then curator, Yu Wen Zhan donated the contents to QVMAG.
    The staff talk up local artist Bea Maddock's work that has a dedicated section to it but I have to say the works weren't to my taste; personally I'd look elsewhere in the wonderfully spacious gallery for satisfaction.
    There's a special place for kids so don't be frightened to take them in there.

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    1842, nee Johnstone and Wilmot

    by iandsmith Written Dec 25, 2011
    The unusual Johnstone and Wilmot house, now 1842

    "1842" occupies one of Launceston's oldest commercial buildings on the corner of St John and Cimitiere Streets (just across from the Tourist Information Centre) in the CBD.
    The retail showroom is in the original Counting House of Johnstone and Wilmot's wholesale grocery business, while the furniture workshop and exhibition space is in the unusual warehouse building, considered and certainly looking architecturally unique in Australia.
    From the inner-city showroom they also retail hand-made furniture and wood products for other Northern Tasmanian makers and art and glassware by Tasmania's finest artists are on show.
    The artisans of "1842" make fine, hand-crafted studio furniture, mainly from the best Tasmanian timbers such as Huon pine, Myrtle, Blackwood and Sassafras.

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    Cataract Gorge - the first time

    by iandsmith Updated Dec 25, 2011
    The river that cut the gorge
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    If you're in Launceston then you will already have heard of Cataract Gorge. If you have children aboard then this is the place for you. Lots of room to run around in, get rid of that excess energy.
    There is the small gorge itself and the stream that runs through the park has a bridge and a chair lift that go across it.
    No coincidence that the chairlift stops at the tea house, where you can partake, as I did, in a cuppa (highly recommended). This is what their blurb says:
    "'In 1972, a magnificent chairlift was built spanning the huge natural basin filled by the surging waters of the South Esk River. The chairlift is unique as it contains in its length, the longest single chairlift span in the world, some 308 metres and the views gained from the ride across are completely breathtaking. The chairlift covers some 457 metres. The central span of 308 metres is believed to be the longest single chairlift span in the world. Seating is designed for complete safety and includes a safety bar which can be operated by either the passenger or attendant. The slow speed of the chairlift enables passengers to appreciate fully and photograph the spectacular views of this ancient rock gorge..." Now, I should add here that you shouldn't get chairlifts confused with cable cars because, personally, I've been on a much longer cable car ride in Spain at Fuente De.
    The landscaped gardens at Cataract feature exotic species interspersed with native flora and there are several pleasant walks to be had either upstream or around the grassy areas.
    There are other small side attractions as well, and one I found interesting was this tree, planted in honour of the first triplets born in the area. You won't find that in many parks in the world! No, it's a Tassie kind of thing.
    (Picture of the tree is in my Tasmania pages - I've lost the original)

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