Join me on my travelling and nom nomming adventures!
The best thing about living on the east coast of Australia is that it’s easier to fly between cities and enjoy a mini break every time there’s a long weekend. And let’s face it, this is one of those things that Aussies do best!
Earlier this year, I tagged on an extra day of leave to the Australia Day long weekend. With 4 days and 3 nights up my sleeve, I decided to fly into Tasmania for the first time ever. With that, I have now visited every state in my home country. Goals, y’all!
As time was short, I was only able to concentrate on one region. With my sights firmly set on the famous lavender fields, I decided to target the northeast. What else is there to do in the area? Well, read on to find out! For the convenience of those wanting to plan their own getaway to Tasmania, this little guide is laid out in chronological order from when we arrived in Launceston Airport until the time we left. Just be aware that the timings provided are for a summer road trip towards the end of January and may not work in winter due to shorter daylight hours. Oh, and there are also a few little extra suggestions that we weren’t able to fit in, so if you’re planning on doing the extras, please adjust your times accordingly.
1. 2pm: ROAD TRIP
There’s no getting around it. For the best experience in Tasmania, you’re going to need a set of wheels. Luckily, road trips are one of my favourite things ever because I love being able to pull over whenever I feel like it, and there’s no better place for a roadtrip than Tasmania because it’s small and there aren’t that many cars around, making it super easy to drive around. Trust me, if I think it’s easy, it has to be easy! In fact, as easy as getting off the plane and joining one of the queues for the various car rental companies that are situated right in the airport arrivals hall next to the luggage carousel. We rented a little Kia from Budget for 3 days including full insurance and drop off at the city office for $388.87. We had prebooked online, so all we had to do was sign the relevant paperwork, swipe the old credit card, pick up the keys, check the car to make sure all prior damages had been accounted for, and we were out of there in about half an hour.
Where? We flew into Launceston Airport, but you may choose to fly into Hobart and incorporate this itinerary into a longer holiday beginning at number 2 below
How? We chose to fly Qantas. From Brisbane, this means 2 flights: Brisbane-Melbourne at 7.10-10.30am QF609 and Melbourne-Launceston 11.50am-1.05pm QF2283 operated by a subsidiary airline. There are also direct flights with Jetstar.
Pro tip: I somewhat regretted returning the car after 3 full days of car hire at the downtown Budget. If I were to do this trip over, I’d probably pay a little bit extra to have the car for a few more hours so that I could check out numbers 39 and 40 on this list on the way back to the airport on the last day.
2. 4pm: ENJOY YOUR FIRST VIEW OF COLES BAY WHILE EATING BERRY ICE-CREAM
From Launceston Airport, we drove straight to Kate’s Berry Farm as we wanted to get there before they closed. It was 41 degrees celsius the day we arrived and all we heard on the radio that day were bushfire warnings. I was totally unprepared with what I had worn onto the plane as I hadn’t known it could get that hot in Tasmania! The only plus side was I enjoyed an entire weekend where ice-cream was essentially a necessity. Come to think of it, regardless of how hot or cold it is, sampling the ice-cream in Tasmania is an absolute necessity – it’s deliciously creamy, generally made with all natural flavours, and comes in giant serves. Tick, tick and TICK! You can be sure the strawberry choc chip ice-cream at Kate’s Berry Farm absolutely ticked all the right boxes for me.
Where? Kate’s Berry Farm, 12 Addison St, Swansea
How? 125km and 1.5 hrs from Launceston Airport on National Highway 1, Lake Leake Hwy/B34 and Tasman Hwy/A3
How long? Half an hour
When? 9.30am-4.30pm daily
3. 4.30pm: HEAD TO THE BEACH
We weren’t planning to return to Swansea, so we decided to check out the views across the bay before heading towards Freycinet for the night. Despite the heat, the water was a bit chilly for us, but if you’re willing to brave it, Spikey Beach is a lovely secluded spot for a dip in the water.
Where? Spikey Beach, Swansea
How? 6.4km and 7 mins from Kate’s Berry Farm, just head back out Addison St and keep going along Tasman Hwy
How long? 10 mins to as long as you like!
4. 6pm: CHECK INTO THE BEST HOME AWAY FROM HOME EVER!
If you’re looking for a hassle-free warm welcome to a beautiful home away from home that comes complete with sweeping views of Coles Bay and a pantry stocked full of wholesome breakfast goodies, then trust me, look no further than Eagle Peaks at Freycinet. Emily stayed in touch with us whilst we were still en route in order to make sure she could be right at the door to let us in when we arrived to show us everything we needed to know about the house and answer any questions we had about the sights. There’s a full kitchen including a barbecue set on the deck outside, where you can enjoy dinner with a beautiful sunset view.
Where? Eagle Peaks at Freycinet, 13 Oyster Bay Court, Coles Bay
How? 62km and 53 mins from Spikey Beach or 54.4km and 43 mins from the IGA – the right hand side turn off from Coles Bay Rd is well signposted, you can’t miss it!
How long? A 1 night stay was enough for us to see everything we wanted to see, but allow at least 1 more night if you’d like to walk the full Wineglass Bay/Hazards Beach circuit (4.5 hours), hike up Mt Amos (3 hours) and/or enjoy a sightseeing cruise in the bay.
How much? We paid $450 for 2 for 1 night, so not cheap, but so worth the splurge!
Pro tip: If you’d like to prepare your own dinner, don’t forget to stock up at the IGA in Swansea before you drive around the bay towards Freycinet. It’s open from 7am-7pm daily.
5. 7pm: DRIVE AND WALK TO THE LIGHTHOUSE
Not one to waste any minute of daylight, I only allowed A a quick comfort break before pushing her out the door so we could go and check out the sunset views at Cape Tourville and nearby Sleepy Bay. The gentle grade and pristine boardwalk mean that this place is wheelchair accessible and can be enjoyed by people of all fitness levels.
Where? Cape Tourville Lighthouse, Coles Bay
How? 12.8km and 20 mins from Eagle Peaks at Freycinet, just drive to the end of Cape Tourville Rd where there’s a little car park
How long? 10-15 mins (or more, depending on how many photos you take and how long you want to just sit and enjoy nature)
6. 7.45pm: WALK TO A SECLUDED GRAVEL BEACH
A short drive from the lighthouse takes you to the Sleepy Bay carpark where you can walk down a rock path to emerge at a pretty, secluded bay surrounded by boulders of various sizes. It’s an easy enough trail but requires a little care as the ground is a bit uneven.
Where? Little Gravelly Beach, Sleepy Bay
How? 3.8km and 6 mins from Cape Tourville Lighthouse, back along Cape Tourville Rd to the Sleepy Bay Track/Beach Lookout carpark
How long? 10-15 mins from the car park to Little Gravelly Beach, about 30 mins return
Pro tip: If you’re visiting at dusk like we were, don’t forget the insect repellent
OVERNIGHT AT COLES BAY
7. 8.30am: HEAD TO ONE OF TASMANIA’S MOST FAMOUS VIEWPOINTS
Wanting to make full use of our short time in Tasmania, by 8.30am, we’d had our breakfast, packed up our car, said our goodbyes to Emily and were on our way to the Freycinet National Park Visitor Centre, ready to purchase our National Park pass before 9am. If you’re able to walk about 30 mins to 1 hour up a moderate but well paved slope and then back down again, then you probably shouldn’t miss one of Tasmania’s most iconic views over Wineglass Bay.
Where? Wineglass Bay Lookout Track, Freycinet National Park
How? 9.4km and 15 mins from Eagle Peaks at Freycinet to the car park for the Wineglass Bay, Hazards Beach and Mt Amos tracks, but stop at the Visitor Centre first to get your National Park pass before continuing along Freycinet Drive in order to avoid potentially getting a fine!
How long? They say to allow 1.5-2 hrs return for the Wineglass Bay Lookout Track, but we actually got to the lookout in under 30 mins – perhaps they’ve allowed time to take photos and appreciate the scenery
How much? The day pass (valid for 24 hrs from time of purchase) is $24 per vehicle or $12 per person, or if you’re visiting more than one national park while in Tasmania, consider getting the holiday pass which is valid for 8 weeks and costs $60 per vehicle
Pro tip: A little to the left of the main lookout point, there’s a dirt path with several boulders where you can get a better view and snapshot of the bay
8. 10.30am: TIME FOR A HONEYMOON!
Sort of. But with a name like Honeymoon Bay, I don’t know many people that would bypass this spot. Does it live up to its name? Judge for yourself…
Where? Honeymoon Bay, Freycinet National Park
How? 2km and 5 mins back along Freycinet Drive
How long? 10-15 mins should be enough to enjoy the views and watch the other tourists clambering over and posing in all manner of ways on the rocks
9. 11.15am: INDULGE IN SEAFOOD
We arrived at Freycinet Marine Farm a little earlier than planned as the gravel road towards Friendly Beaches didn’t agree with our little Kia. Worried about getting stuck in the middle of nowhere, we decided to have an early lunch instead. Yes, food really is the perfect solution to everything! As it turns out, we got to our lunch stop not a minute too soon, as the hordes descended as soon as we’d put in our order.
Where? Freycinet Marine Farm, 1784 Coles Bay Rd
How? 10.5km and 11 mins back along Coles Bay Rd
How long? 1 hr
How much? About $25 for a dozen oysters or $15 for half a dozen, available in various styles
When? 9am-5pm daily
Pro tip: The mussels are a must
10. 12.30pm: PONDER THE NEXT PORTION OF YOUR TRIP WHILE ENJOYING DESSERT
If you only have time for one ice-cream stop around Swansea, well, first of all, I’d suggest you make time for more than one ice-cream stop. But if you really can’t, then I’d pick The Pondering Frog over Kate’s Berry Farm. The store with its myriad of frogs is simply adorable, and the service is a million times better. The staff at Kate’s are abrupt and not very friendly, while the owner of the Pondering Frog is like an eccentric uncle or grandfather who is determined that you should listen to his suggestions of where to go next, how to get there, and even how to eat your ice-cream. Just sit down, listen and take it all in stride as part of the experience.
Where? The Pondering Frog, 16494 Tasman Hwy, Bicheno
How? 18.3km and 13 mins back along Coles Bay Rd and only a short distance from the left/southwest turn onto Tasman Hwy towards Swansea
How long? Half an hour
When? 8am-5pm daily
Pro tip: Go for a choc top. Personally, I preferred the strawberry choc top to the strawberry choc chip ice-cream at Kate’s as the chocolate to ice-cream ratio was more to my liking. I also preferred the slight tartness in the strawberry ice-cream compared to the peanut butter choc top.
11. 1.30pm: LOOK OUT FOR WHALES
OK, so I didn’t see any whales, but if you make the effort to climb the short but steep trail up to Whaler’s Lookout, you’ll be rewarded with awesome views over Bicheno.
Where? Whaler’s Lookout Scenic Reserve, Esplanade, Bicheno
How? 12.2km and 10 mins northeast along Tasman Hwy
How long? 20-30 mins return
12. 2pm: BE HYPNOTISED BY THE BICHENO BLOWHOLE
I thought this place would be a tad gimmicky and was surprised how mesmerised I was by watching the intermittent sprays of sea water erupting from the blowhole. Only a very short walk from the car park, I would consider this a must-see.
Where? Bicheno Blowhole, Douglas St, Bicheno
How? 600m and 2 mins drive from the parking lot at the bottom of Whaler’s Lookout, south along the Esplanade
How long? I think one could easily spend a whole afternoon here watching the show, but if pressed for time, 15 mins should be enough
13. 2.30pm: BIRDWATCHING AT BICHENO MARINA
We only pulled into the marina for about 5 mins in order to make use of the restrooms before our drive further north towards Binalong Bay, but I decided to include this spot because the views towards the nearby bird-filled islands are fantastic. I’ve also been told by another friend that the glass bottom boat ride that leaves from this marina is worth doing if you have the time. Another option for those with more time is to park here and enjoy the coastal views as you stroll along the Foreshore Walking Track.
Where? Bicheno Marina, Bicheno
How? 950m and 3 mins drive from the parking lot of Bicheno Blowhole, north along the Esplanade
14. 6.30pm: BE WOWED BY THE BAY OF FIRES
If you’re wondering about the time discrepancy between how long it takes to get from Bicheno to the Bay of Fires and the time we actually got there, this is partly because we checked into our overnight accommodation at St Helen’s and bought some food at the IGA there so that we could enjoy a picnic dinner amongst the firy red rocks, but mostly because we…OK, I made some questionable decisions. Firstly, if you’re planning on hiking up South Sisters Lookout at St Mary’s, you should decide before the turnoff at the Chain of Lagoons whether or not you’re comfortable driving on a dirt road. If not, take the advice of the Pondering Frog owner and take the coastal road instead, stopping at the Iron House Brewery along the way. Secondly, the turn off towards St Helens Conservation Area, Burns Bay and St Helens Point is NOT worth the extra effort. Yes, there are pretty red rocks, but take my word for it, they’re better at the Bay of Fires. As it turns out though, rocking up (see what I did there?) at The Gardens at dusk turned out to be a very good thing as I loved the moodiness that was created by the combination of the setting sun, darkening sky, crashing waves and windswept grass.
Where? The Gardens, 1284 Gardens Rd, Bay of Fires Conservation Area
How? 100km and 1.5 hrs from Bicheno Marina, just keep heading north along Tasman Hwy, Binalong Bay Rd/C850 and Gardens Rd/C848
How long? 1 hour if you’re planning on picnicking here like we did
15. 7.45pm: WATCH THE SUNSET AT BINALONG BAY
Less rugged, secluded and peaceful than The Gardens, but still worth a visit for the cute rock formations. From the Skeleton Bay car park, you’ll find Bay of Fires Eco Tours, the jetty from which the tours depart, and a lookout point.
Where? Skeleton Bay Reserve, 14-16 Main Rd, Binalong Bay
How? 16.5km and 20 mins from The Gardens
How long? 45 mins to 1 hr
OVERNIGHT AT ST HELENS
16. 9am: GO ANTIQUE HUNTING IN THE BUSH
OK, so we didn’t actually stop here because I whizzed by this cute little shop too quickly, and we were hungry and eager to get to our breakfast stop. Yup, those tummies directing our journey again! But when I later saw a brochure about this antique store, I wished we’d pulled over even for just a brief browse.
Where? Shop in the Bush, 25977 Tasman Hwy, St Helens
How? 5.6km and 5 mins from St Helens northwest along Tasman Hwy
When? 9am-5pm daily
17. 9.15am: INDULGE IN DAIRY PRODUCTS
I feel so blessed to not be lactose challenged because seriously, I cannot fathom a life without cheese, milk and ice-cream. If this is also your philosophy in life, then be sure to make some room in your itinerary (and daily macros, hah!) for Pyengana Dairy Company. We decided to start our third day here because cheese, crackers and ice-cream for breakfast is a thing, right?
Where? Pyengana Dairy Company, St Columba Falls Rd, Pyengana
How? 20.5km and 20 mins from the Shop in the Bush, west along Tasman Hwy
How long? 45 mins to 1 hour, however long it takes you to sample all the cheeses and spreads on offer, order something to eat and perhaps select some goodies to take home with you
When? 9am-5pm daily
Pro tip: I recommend the honey as well as the lemon myrtle ice-creams
18. 10.30am: TIME TO CHASE WATERFALLS
Now that you’re energised, why not take a short walk to one of Tasmania’s highest falls? The walk to get there is like journeying into the Lost World, which makes it that much more fun in my opinion!
Where? St Columba Falls, Pyengana
How? 9.6km and 15 mins from Pyengana Dairy Company, just keep heading southwest along St Columba Falls Rd
How long? 20-30 mins return
19. 12pm: WHY SO BLUE?
The stunning Tiffany blue hue of the Little Blue Lake is due to its high mineral content as a result of it being a mineral hole from the pioneering mining days of the South Mt Cameron region. Whilst swimming is not recommended, that doesn’t seem to stop the bunch of folks we saw jumping off the cliff edge into the water below.
Where? Little Blue Lake, 1753 Gladstone Rd, South Mt Cameron
How? 60km and just over 1 hr from St Columba Falls, north along Tasman Hwy and Gladstone Rd/B82
How long? 20-30 mins should suffice if you’re not planning on walking all the way around the lake or challenging the recommendation to not swim there
Pro tip: If you keep driving a short distance along the dirt track after the car park at the main entrance, you’ll come across a second little car park. This spot will give you a better view of the entire lake.
20. 1.30pm: RUN AND TWIRL THROUGH LAVENDER FIELDS
Whilst we didn’t actually stop because the lavender was already turning silver at the time we visited and we were terribly unimpressed that they were still charging a fee to visit despite this, Bridestowe Lavender Estate is undoubtedly one of northeast Tasmania’s most Instagrammable spots, so should warrant a mention in any list of things for tourists to do here. To ensure you’re there for full bloom, aim to visit early Jan instead of towards the end of the month when we were there. Savour some lavender ice-cream, slather on some lavender beauty products, shop their range of Bobbie Bears, then come and show me all that I missed out on. I promise I’ll try not to be jealous…
Where? Bridestowe Lavender Estate, 296 Gillespies Rd, Nabowla
How? 80km and just over 1 hr from the Little Blue Lake, west along Tasman Hwy and Golconda Rd/B81
When? 9am-5pm daily
21. 2.15pm: WINING AND DINING IN THE TAMAR VALLEY
You’re spoilt for choice here, with Jansz, Pipers Brook and Leaning Church amongst some of the top picks along the Tamar Valley wine route, but I’m partial to the bubbly and the Hamptons style setting at Bay of Fires Winery.
Where? Bay of Fires Winery, 40 Baxters Rd, Pipers River
How? 40km and 35 mins from Bridestowe Lavender Estate
How long? 1-1.5 hrs should give you enough time to sample some of the wines and enjoy a leisurely lunch – be aware that a tasting fee is charged, but this is redeemable towards any wine purchase
When? 11am-4pm weekdays, 10am-4pm weekends
Pro tip: Definitely aim to lunch here. Their lunch platter of various cold meats, pickles, relish, pate, cheese and crackers is to die for, and the pizzas on other tables smelled amazing too.
22. SEE THE PAINTED TELEGRAPH POLES AND WATERFALL AT LILYDALE
So here’s where your choose your own adventure portion of the itinerary begins in earnest. Whilst you should be able to comfortably fit in both Bridestowe Lavender Estate and Bay of Fires Winery (because we made a stop at Pipers Brook in lieu of Bridestowe), you may struggle to also fit in Lilydale as it’s in the opposite direction from Bay of Fires after leaving Bridestowe. As I only had time to visit one winery, I wanted to make sure it was one that I knew I would enjoy, so I decided to skip Lilydale and head straight to Bay of Fires instead. However, if you rate street art and waterfalls highly, you may prefer to visit Lilydale, which would then be closer to Leaning Church Vineyard, just 4km and a 5 minute drive away, in fact.
How? Lilydale Falls is 22km and 20 mins from Bridestowe Lavender Estate, just keep going along Golconda Rd. Lilydale town centre is another 2.5km and 3 mins further south along the same road.
23. 3.45pm: TRY NOT TO GET BLOWN OVER THE GEORGE TOWN LOOKOUT
The other reason for heading north towards Pipers Brook and Bay of Fires is that we would then be closer to our next stop, George Town, which is en route to our goal, the mouth of the Tamar River. The lookout is at the top of an old semaphore tower and is a worthy detour with sweeping views over Bell Bay and towards the lighthouse at Low Head. Just make sure you have a good windbreaker on you and be careful as it gets very windy and cold up there!
Where? George Town Semaphore Station and Lookout
How? 26.2km and 23 mins from Bay of Fires Winery, west along Bridport Rd/B82 and East Tamar Hwy/A8
How long? 5 mins was enough for me as I’m not fond of the cold!
24. 4.15pm: PHOTOGRAPH THE CUTE CANDY STRIPE LIGHTHOUSE
The red and white striped Low Head Lighthouse is at the northernmost point of the mouth of the Tamar River towards the east bank. Aside from this distinction, the views from here are amazing, you can actually stay in an adorable fully renovated cottage nearby, and if you do decide to stay, you can join a night tour to see fairy penguins!
Where? Low Head Lighthouse, 496 Low Head Rd
How? 10.5km and 15 mins from George Town Lookout, just follow East Tamar Hwy all the way to the end!
How long? 15-30 mins, unless you’re planning on spending the night so you can go on a penguin tour
25. SEE PLATYPUS AND SEAHORSES
This is another option that I decided to skip but might be fun for those travelling with kids. Check their respective websites for all the things you can see and do at Seahorse World and Platypus House.
Where? Seahorse World and Platypus House, 200 Flinders St, Beauty Point
How? 47.7km and 45 mins from Low Head Lighthouse, back south along East Tamar Hwy, across Batman Bridge at the narrowest part of the river and north along West Tamar Hwy/A7
How much? Admission to Seahorse World is $22 for adults, $9.50 for children 4-16, free for children 3 and under, and $55 for a family pass for up to 2 adults and 6 children. Admission to Platypus House is $25 for adults and $10 for children 4-16, free for children 3 and under. Alternatively, get the Tamar Triple Pass including admission to Seahorse World, Platypus House and Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre for $49 for adults and $135 for a family pass.
When? Seahorse World is open daily except on Christmas Day and conducts 45 minute long tours between 9.30am-4pm December to April and on the hour from 10am-3pm May to November. Platypus House is open daily except on Christmas Day from 9.30am-4.30pm November to April and 10am-3.30pm May to October.
26. 5.15pm: VISIT A BEEHIVE
We were bummed that The Beehive was already closed by the time we drove past the bumblebee Volkswagen beetle out the front, so you’ll have to time your itinerary accordingly if you’d like to browse the range of honey products on offer there. We satisfied ourselves with just snapping a few photos.
Where? Honey Tasmania – The Beehive, 124 Main Rd, Exeter
How? 45km and 40 mins from Low Head Lighthouse, back south along East Tamar Hwy, across Batman Bridge at the narrowest part of the river and south along West Tamar Hwy/A7
How long? 5 mins is all you’ll need to get out of the car and snap a few pics with the bumblebee
When? If you actually want to visit the store, it’s open 10am-5pm weekdays, 10am-3pm Saturdays and 11am-1pm Sundays
Pro tip: If you’re after a snack, Exeter Bakery is about 350m down the road at 104 Main Rd. They’re famous for their scallop pies and open 9am-5pm daily.
27. 5.30pm: LOOK OUT OVER THE TAMAR VALLEY
Keep driving south along West Tamar Hwy and before long you’ll come across a well signposted turnoff to a lookout on the left. It’s worth getting out for more views over the Tamar River.
Where? Bradys Lookout State Reserve, Rosevears
How? 5km and 7 mins further south along West Tamar Hwy
How long? 10-15 mins
28. 5.45pm: VISIT A SWISS VILLAGE
There won’t be much to do if you arrive at the time we did, but it’s still worth taking a stroll around this holiday village designed to look like a Swiss town. In fact, if you’re anything like me, you might even prefer the lack of crowds that comes with turning up when all the shops have closed.
Where? Grindelwald Shopping Village, 7 Waldhorn Drive
How? 4km and 5 mins from Bradys Lookout, turning right off West Tamar Hwy into Waldhorn Drive
How long? Half an hour, unless you have kids, in which case they might want to play in the pirate ship playground
Pro tip: Walk all the way through the shopping village (it won’t take long!) and take the path beyond the pirate ship at the back of the village. The path ends at a gazebo on a small but fairly steep hill, where you’ll be rewarded with views over the entire village.
29. 6.30pm: CHECK INTO A HERITAGE INN
The rustic nature of the heritage buildings at Leisure Inn Penny Royal may not appeal to everyone, but I love quirky, so this was right up my alley. The staff were friendly and helpful, rooms are a good size, the bed was comfortable to me, there’s free parking onsite, and best of all, it’s ideally situated close to two of Launceston’s main attractions, a stone’s throw from two of the top restaurants in town, and just a short stroll from the central shopping mall area. Rates are reasonable too.
Where? Leisure Inn Penny Royal, 147 Paterson St, Launceston
How? 17km and 17 mins from Grindelwald, all the way south along West Tamar Hwy
How much? We paid $113 for a standard twin room for 2 adults for 1 night
Pro tip: There are no lifts, so if you’re going to have trouble taking your bags up the stairs, you might like to ask for a ground floor room
30. 7.30pm: FINE DINING IN LAUNCESTON
Turns out there are a good selection of restaurants to try in Launceston. Unfortunately, many are closed on Sunday, which is the one night we had to check out the local dining scene, sob. Although we were unable to dine at either of the top two restaurants closest to us, we enjoyed the waterfront view, Asian influences and top notch service at Mudbar Restaurant.
Where? 28 Seaport Blvd, Launceston (in Peppers Seaport Hotel, which looks like a very nice place to stay but was beyond our budget given our splurge at Freycinet)
How? 1.4km north of Leisure Inn Penny Royal and 4 mins by car (be aware you have to pay for parking, not cool!) or 1km and 13 mins on foot cutting through Royal Park
How much? $60 for a 2 course dinner or $78 for 3 courses
Other options: Stillwater, 2 Bridge Rd for modern Australian fare and the closest restaurant to Leisure Inn. Hallam’s Waterfront, 13 Park St for seafood and only 350m from Leisure Inn. Geronimo’s, 186 Charles St for tapas.
OVERNIGHT AT LAUNCESTON
31. 8.30am: THE BEST MEAL OF THE DAY!
Most of the breakfast spots in Launceston were closed on the Australia Day public holiday that we were there. I know right? Poor planning! So we ended up driving back towards Exeter Bakery. If I’m ever in Launceston again looking for breakfast, I’d go for one of the following options.
Where? Bryher, 91 George St or Stillwater, 2 Bridge Rd, Launceston. And if all else fails, Exeter Bakery, 104 Main Rd, Exeter is open from 9am daily including public holidays!
32. 9.30am: DRIVE THE SCENIC ROUTE BACK TO LAUNCESTON
If you find yourself heading north out of Launceston again for whatever reason, it’s worth taking a short detour off West Tamar Hwy onto the scenic route along the west bank of the Tamar River.
Where? Rosevears Drive
How? From Exeter, the turnoff from West Tamar Hwy is on the left just before Paringa Ave 1.8km and about 2 mins drive south of Exeter Bakery. From there, just keep driving along the river until you rejoin West Tamar Hwy
33. 10.30am: SAY HELLO TO THE JAPANESE MONKEYS
City Park back in Launceston is a little gem where you’ll find an ornate rotunda, a cute road train, a pretty little conservatory, an onsite cafe, a design centre for contemporary woodwork, and the piece de resistance, an enclave of macaque monkeys donated to the city by their Japanese sister city, Ikeda.
Where? City Park, 45-55 Tamar St, towards the eastern end of Launceston
How long? Half an hour was enough for us to enjoy a stroll through the park including the conservatory with the greatest amount of time spent watching the macaques, but you may need to allow more time if you’re travelling with kids as we came across many little ones who didn’t want to leave the monkeys!
When? The macaque enclosure is open from 8am-4.30pm October to March and until 4pm April to September
34. 11.30am: WALK UP A STEEP HILL
You may like to do numbers 34-36 in reverse so you can walk DOWN the hill instead, but based on where we were coming from (Budget’s downtown office) and where we were headed (Leisure Inn to pick up our luggage and head back to the airport), this route was the one that made more sense. Alternatively, you could walk along the flatter main road towards Cataract Gorge and skip the steep zigzag climb altogether, but where’s the fun and adventure in that?
Where? Brisbane St W, Zig Zag Reserve, Launceston
How long? 45 mins to an hour
35. 12.15pm: EXPLORE CATARACT GORGE
It’s hard to believe this expansive nature area exists right in the heart of the city and is completely free to wander around! There are a myriad activities you can enjoy here, from swimming in the gorge or pool, taking the chairlift (charges apply) and/or suspension bridge across First Basin, and numerous scenic hiking trails along the riverbanks.
Where? Cataract Gorge Reserve, 74-90 Basin Rd, Launceston
How long? 1.75-2 hrs minimum. That’s how long we spent there walking 3/4 of the way around First Basin (we decided to skip the chairlift in lieu of the walking trail and suspension bridge), making the short hike up Alexandra Lookout then walking all the way back along the west side of the gorge and across King’s Bridge to arrive, quite by chance, at number 36.
36. 2pm: IT’S A PIRATE’S LIFE FOR ME
Penny Royal Adventures is an adventure park mained at kids, but free to enter and definitely still worth checking out even if you won’t be participating in the activities on offer. These include rock climbing, walking across suspension bridges, ziplining, a quick drop, and for the more sedate or younger ones, a pirate ship ride, dark ride and gold panning. The theming from the architecture to the costumed guides is excellent.
Where? Penny Royal Adventures, 1 Bridge Rd, Launceston
How long? Allow 2 hours for rock climbing, the suspension bridges, ziplines and quick jump, or 5 hours if intending to try all activities.
How much? Prices vary depending on how many and which activities you’d like to participate in. The Cliff Pass includes rock climbing, the suspension bridges, ziplines and quick jump for $39, while the All Adventure Pass is $69.
When? 10am-4pm weekdays, 9.30am-4pm weekends
37. 2.45pm: GO FOR A WALK ALONG THE TAMAR RIVERFRONT
Just a short distance north of Penny Royal Adventures under West Tamar Hwy, and you’ll find yourself at Royal Park, where you can enjoy a peaceful stroll with views of Penny Royal Adventures, Stillwater Restaurant and the riverfront homes of Launceston. If you’re feeling peckish, why not pop into Stillwater?
Where? Royal Park, 78 Paterson St, Launceston
How long? 15-30 mins, depending on how far you want to walk
38. 3.15pm: GO SHOPPING AT THE MALL
From Royal Park, it’s just a short walk down Paterson St towards the mall. This was where we spent the last of our time in Launceston before catching an Uber back to the airport, and were surprised to see so many cute stores and cafes, as well as cheaper prices compared to Brisbane at national chain stores!
Where? The Mall, Brisbane St between Charles and St John St
Pro tip: In need of a pick-me-up? Check out Charlie’s Dessert House at 74 Charles St or Cocobean Chocolate, 82 George St
39. ENJOY ONE OF TASMANIA’S BEST LUNCHES
My main regret about returning our car early was that, if we still had our own wheels, I would have headed straight to Josef Chromy Wines as soon as we’d finished up at Cataract Gorge. I had already heard from many sources about the amazing food and wine there, but only realised its ideal location for a preflight indulgence(only 10km from the airport!) too late.
Where? Josef Chromy Wines, 370 Relbia Rd
How? 11.5km and 15 mins south of downtown Launceston, 10km and 10 mins northeast of the airport
40. VISIT HISTORIC EVANDALE
So you’ve avoided my mistake but there’s only so much wining and dining you can fit in before a flight. I totally get that. If you find yourself with a bit of extra time on your hands after lunching at Josef Chromy, consider visiting the pretty late Georgian to early Victorian town of Evandale.
How? 10.7km and 11 mins south of Josef Chromy along Relbia Rd/C412, 5.4km and 6 mins south of the airport along Evandale Rd/B41
Have you visited Launceston and the northeast part of Tasmania? What were your favourite things to do, see and eat there? Which are your favourite wineries that I should add to my list for next time?
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