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Photograph: Tourism Tasmania

How to spend the perfect weekend in Launceston

Wine, cider, butter and beef: all the good things in life are locally made and there for the taking in Tassie’s northern city

Rebecca Russo
Written by
Rebecca Russo

Hobart is a bit of a thunder stealer. It’s the hot older sister that makes you forget about all the other great things that Tasmania has to offer, including sibling city Launceston. But if you’ve done Hobart, we suggest making a pitstop in this northern town. It’s overrun by rolling hills and Dawson’s Creek style seaports, plus it’s cool climate wine country, so even the hangovers are beautiful. Wine’s like a lifeblood here, so if you’re looking to up your viticultural knowledge, this might just be the place.

Looking for more weekend getaways? Check out our guide to Adelaide, Port Douglas and Canberra.

Launceston attractions

Photograph: Rob Burnett

Feast your eyes on stalls brimming with Tasmania’s freshest seasonal produce at the Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market, held every Saturday morning from 8.30am. Here you'll be able to savour locally roasted coffees as well as ciders, craft beers, meads and drops from local distilleries. Taste your way through award-winning diary products from the likes of Elgaar Farm and Red Cow Organics, and take home some homemade preserves, premium produce, artisan bread and pastries.

Photograph: Tourism Tasmania and Jason Charles Hill

Post-market, make a beeline to City Park, a heritage park that was established back in the 1820s. It has a conservatory, water features, rotunda and, best of all, an enclosure with around 20 Japanese snow monkeys. Afterwards, make your way to Cataract Gorge, a beautiful rock formation located spitting distance from Launceston’s city centre. Follow the cliffside pathway (which was originally built in the 1890s) as it whips around the craggy gorge and looks down onto the South Esk River. It may be named after an eye infection but couldn’t be less like an eyesore. 

Launceston restaurants

Photograph: Lily Moeller

Jeremy Kode, owner and manager at Geronimo, Launceston’s Aperitivo bar and restaurant, grows his own in a kitchen garden 20 minutes outside of the city. Kode’s kitchen garden supplies basically anything the restaurant needs, from vegetables, fruits and herbs to a reserve of roaming beef cattle. The menu changes regularly to adapt to what’s available, but the flavours are always winning. It’s like a whiff of Europe with modern Aussie flair – think butter-soft savoury mushroom panna cotta, tangy Cape Grim beef tartare, and crumbly pan-roasted white fish served alongside a citrus salad and potato crisps.

Photograph: Lily Moeller

Stillwater is housed inside of a refurbished 1840s flour mill and water supplier, and the all-day eatery serves up an ever-changing seasonal menu coupled with highly respected local tipples. During the day, you're best placed to sit in the light-drenched sunroom that overlooks the River Tamar. But for dinner, snag a spot in the intimate dining room where you can choose between a two-course or three-course menu. Dishes are a mix of modern Australian and pan-Asian, with highlights including the medium rare Tasmanian wallaby or the Koji-aged Cape Grim eye fillet. The Stillwater team is also behind Black Cow Bistro, arguably one of the best spots in the city for a steak. 

Launceston bars

Photograph: Mitch Osborne

While wine is Launceston’s clincher, don’t pass up a walk down the Red Brick Road towards cider town. These brewers handcraft ciders and perries (pear cider) with only natural ingredients – there’s no added sugar, it’s unpasteurised, unfiltered and made using a traditional fermentation process. The result is drier and tangier and a lot more cloudy than your typical cider, but it makes for a far more interesting drinking experience. Visit their hole-in-the-wall bar Red Cider House in Launceston’s centre that boasts a full range of bevvies, BYO food and laidback vibes.

Launceston hotels

Photograph: Tourism Tasmania

So close to town you can basically taste the sea air, Peppers Seaport Hotel has plenty of nautical charm – it’s located on the site of an old dry dock, after all. The beds are comfy, the rooms are spacious, and if you’re lucky you’ll score views out to where the North and South Esk Rivers meet.

Photograph: Anjie Blair

No, you're not seeing things: on top of being one of Launceston's finest eateries, Stillwater, is also a boutique seven-room hotel. While the space itself — which was designed by Cumulus Studio (Devil's Corner, Stoney Rise) —is beautiful, it's all of the personalised touches that truly put this hotel a cut above the rest. Before arriving, you'll receive an email asking you a variety of questions to help tailor your stay to your preferences, like whether you prefer gin to whisky or what your favourite genre of music is. Prepare to arrive at a curated, homey space, and to chow down on the bowl of seasoned popcorn and loaf of sourdough that's waiting for you in the room. 

Go on a winery crawl

Photograph: Liza-Jane Sowden

Tasmania is a cool-climate wine bonanza – so why not turn your vacation into a more appreciative wine-cation?

We recommend you start at the 61-hectare vineyard at Josef Chrómy Wines. Book into the Art of Sparkling Experience where you can learn how the winery's signature sparkling is made and get hands-on experience adding liquor to your own batch to take home with you.

Heading north, hop over to Tamar Ridge Winery for vino with a view. Park yourself on the lawn and taste your way through sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and riesling. You can order a seasonal platter from local catering company Hubert & Dan that’s loaded with local and housemade cheeses, salmon and charcuterie to enjoy while you imbibe.

The next stop is Moores Hill Estate, Tasmania’s first 100 per cent solar-powered winery. With 108 solar panels on the roof, you can feel ethically angelic about snapping up a bottle of their 2012 vintage. Keep an eye out for the cellar door's friendly wine dog Otto, who likes to roam the vineyards too.

Finish it off with a drive by Sinapius’s site in Pipers Brook. The smallest grower on the list, this family-run vineyard is known for its estate-grown field blends, including its clem blanc and esmè rouge. It’s the perfect digestif for your vino-cation. 

Photograph: Experiential Tasmania

If you need a deso-driver for your day of winery hopping, book in for a tour by Experiential Tasmania. The Launceston-based brand has put together several curated itineraries that can take you to and from boutique regional wineries like Utzinger, Stoney Rise and Tamar Ridge

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