A first timers’ guide to Launceston
Tasmania is so hot right now. Hobart might be getting the lion’s share of the attention (and deservedly so, with cultural must-do MONA and serious dining destinations like Franklin)
But, if you’ve been there, done that, don’t forget about the State’s second biggest city, Launceston for another slice of Tassie cheese…. I mean… perfection!
A quick direct flight from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, or 2.5 hour drive from Hobart, Launceston is the gateway to Northern Tasmania. Insider tip, to do the region justice, I’d recommend hiring a car.
Where to stay
There’s something to suit every taste and budget but you’d be hard pressed to find a better option than the Red Feather Inn. Located just out of town in Hadspen, the luxury bed and breakfast manages to strike just the right balance between warm country styling with French influences and modern touches.
Build circa 1842, the collection of historic buildings has a variety of accommodation options including suites in the main inn building and standalone cottages, perfect for families or those seeking a self-contained option. As you can see below, a place worthy to make your insta friends a little jelly.
We go for the latter and love the well-equipped and spacious kitchen, homely lounge room complete with shelves of books, comfy couch and TV set-up (perfect for a snug night in watching a movie with a cheese plate and a bottle of complimentary wine, because let’s face it, who doesn’t love free wine!
It would be a shame to stay at the Red Feather Inn and not sample the delicacies of chefs Louis and Felicity. The three course, three choice menu features seasonal local produce and my mussels with white wine entrée is up there with one of the best seafood dishes of our trip (and that’s saying something in Tassie).
If you’re up for learning from the chefs themselves, be sure to book in for the popular Saturday cooking classes.
What to do
Get your markets on
If you’re not at the Red Feather Inn cooking class there’s only one other place to be on a Saturday morning in Launceston: the Harvest Markets. Full of local providers, it’s hard not to wish you lived here and could stock up on quality produce every week. But for tourists like us there’s still plenty to devour.
After one bite of my rhubarb Danish from Sandy’s sourdough, it’s no surprise that on my second lap, that stand is almost completely sold out, note to self, always get the Danish!
How all good meals should go, desert first, savory second! After the delish Danish I opt for a more traditional breakfast of a bacon & egg roll with Meat, Bread, Cheese delivering the bacony goods.
Get your nature on
The fresh air of Tasmania is one of its many drawcards and there aren’t many better places to soak it up than Cataract Gorge Reserve. Just a few minutes drive from central Launceston and home to the unique natural formation, ‘The Gorge’ as it’s known to locals also features a swimming pool, kiosk and restaurant and is the perfect spot for a morning run.
If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a few of these friendly locals too.
Get your wine on
Arguably one of the best things about Launceston is its proximity to the Tamar Valley. With over 30 cellar doors you’ll be spoilt for choice. My top picks including the ones worth grabbing a bite to eat at:
- Tamar Ridge – It’s rare to find a cellar door where every single wine you taste is a winner but that’s exactly the case at Tamar Ridge, only 20 minutes from Launceston. If you need time to narrow down your purchasing options, grab a bite to eat (their menu features delicious sounding pies and platters) and enjoy the scenic views.
- The Jansz Wine Room – If you’re a sparkling wine fan, you’d know that Tasmania produces some of the best there is and Jansz is right up there. Take the opportunity to sample and purchase cellar-door only releases.
- Pipers Brook Vineyard – It would be rude not to match a wine tasting with their ‘Pinot Platter’: a delicious combo of cheeses, dips, crackers, bread, salami, smoked salmon, quail, grapes and dried figs.
- Bay of Fires Wines – As soon as you hit the driveway of this gem, you know you’re onto a good thing. The gorgeous building and grounds are backed up with extremely knowledgeable staff. You’d be crazy not to depart with a bottle or two of their House of Arras sparkling.
- Moores Hill – Not only are their wines great, their seafood platter is a welcome reprieve from cheese platters. Trust me on this, you will get cheesed out! Bonus points for the cosy fireplace.
Where (else) to eat
If you’ve followed my tips above you would have hit up a cheese plate or three, sampled market goods and had a three course feast at Red Feather Inn. But where else is foodie worthy?
Stillwater is one of Launceston’s premium restaurant picks. With a price tag to match, there’s definitely a special occasion vibe in the air on the night we dine with various birthdays and anniversaries being celebrated around us.
We opt for the Chef’s five course menu ($190 with matched wines) and the definite standouts are the abalone and beef tartare. And the bread and butter! It’s so good, I have no shame in requesting another portion.
My absolute favourite dining experience of our Launceston stay though is easily Joseph Chromy Wines, located just out of Launceston in Relbia. Make sure you do a cheeky wine tasting before you head into the restaurant. What better way to decide which drop to enjoy with your meal?
There’s nothing like a winery long lunch on a Friday and we’re spoilt with a beautiful day and a table with a view of the rolling vineyards. And the food from head chef Matt Adams and team doesn’t disappoint.
Our entrees of Salt baked beetroot with buffalo curd and vincotto, and Wallaby bolognaise set the bar high but our mains manage to up the ante. Beef cheeks with mushrooms, brioche whip, hazelnut and pine broth is as good as it sounds, while Wild Clover lamb short rib with baked celeriac, Brussel sprouts and dried olives is seasonal cooking at its best. Be sure to save room for the unique desserts too.
On our lovely waiter’s recommendation we opt for the Poached quince with black sesame cake, cashew and dark chocolate (it sounds weird but it works) and the Caramelised spelt pudding with muscat soaked prunes. All washed down of course with glasses of Joseph Chromy’s best drops.
If only all Fridays could be like that!