Packed with charming buildings and blessed with a vibrant food and wine scene, it’s not hard to find plenty of top things to do in Launceston. It’s also not surprising that this is Wotif’s Aussie Town of the Year 2022!

Surrounded by a deep food bowl and flanked by wineries, Launceston offers a surprising but addictive mix of heritage and adventure. The second biggest city in Tasmania, the town’s food culture extends out into the surrounding regions.  I love the architecture here as it’s so different from my hometown’s Queensland timber and tin look.  Expect fireplaces, stone buildings, moody, misty mornings and clear blue skies.

Photo above: Looking over the River Tamar from Stillwater Seven. Photo Kerry Heaney

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Evandale, Tasmania

The Village Store, Evandale Tasmania. Photo: Kerry Heaney

Amazing things to do in Launceston

You can fly directly to Launceston or start your trip in Hobart, drive two and a half hours (200 km), and you are in the Aussie Town of the Year 2022! It doesn’t matter how many times I visit Launceston, these five things would always be on my to-do list.

Explore Evandale

Was it too much wine last night, or did you just step out of Dr Who’s Tardis and back 100 years? Walking down the Georgian village high street at Evandale, about 18 km south of Launceston, it is easy to get lost in history. Stuffed full of must-have handmade soaps, artisan honey, wool clothing and old-fashioned sweets displayed in the style of an 1840s general store, The Village Store is a must-visit.

Clarendon Arms, Evandale
Clarendon Arms interior
Clarendon Arms front bar

Photos above: Outside the Clarendon Arms; Ready for lunch inside the pub. Photos: Kerry Heaney

When the weather cools, there’s no better place than a seat in front of one of the Clarendon Arms Hotel’s roaring fireplaces eating a Tasmanian curried scallop pie. Evandale has a weekly Sunday Market (8 am to 1.30 pm) and The National Penny Farthing Championships race through the streets every February.

Harvest Market Launceston


Shop at Harvest Market

Unlike many farmer’s markets, Harvest Market Launceston starts at a very respectable time of 8.30 am. This means you don’t need to be an early riser to get the best farm gate produce here. Do skip breakfast and plan to eat at the market. The range of edibles, such as Afghan bolanis, coconut panko-crumbed mushrooms, and Korean pancakes, is way too tempting. Held in Cimitiere Street in the heart of Launceston, the market has an average of 50 stalls that rotate according to seasonal produce. Stock up on sauces and salts, try local cider and wine and take home a taste of Tasmania. For me, this is one of my favourite things to do in Launceston.

Geoff McLean Wallaby Walkabout Tours
Suspension Bridge Cataract Gorge Launceston
Cataract Gorge
Cataract Gorge Launceston

Above – Geoff McLean, Wallaby Walkabout Tours, at Cataract Gorge; Kerry checks out the Suspension Bridge; Looking back into Cataract Gorge, Launceston Photo: Kerry Heaney

Walk Cataract Gorge

Just 15 minutes stroll from Launceston’s city heart lies the wilderness of Cataract Gorge. There is a walking trail, the world’s longest single-span chairlift (no swinging), a suspension bridge (no jumping), a swimming pool (diving allowed) and a café where peacocks fan their iridescent blue feathers while you relax over a coffee. Drink in the region’s history and Aboriginal history with Geoff McLean’s Wallaby Walkabout Tours. Geoff takes visitors on a two-hour track wander to discover bush foods with tastings. Thankfully, that doesn’t extend to the fat white witchetty grub he keeps for display purposes only. Symbolic ochre hand-painting with Aboriginal symbols and a moment’s silence to commune with the wilderness finish Geoff’s tour.

Loira Vines, Tamar Valley
Cabbage Tree Hill Wines

​Loira Vines, Tamar Valley. Cabbage Tree Hill Wines, near Beaconsfield. Photo: Kerry Heaney

Explore the Tamar Valley’s wineries

Launceston is a starting point to explore Tasmania’s oldest wine-growing area, the Tamar Valley, which produces premium cool climate wines. There’s no shortage of stops on the Tamar Valley Wine Route, where you travel short distances on smooth country roads to find wineries located between lavender plantations, strawberry farms and orchards. Follow the West Tamar Highway (A7) past the Tamar Island Wetlands Centre, which is a great bird-watching locale. Highlights include the cellar door at tiny boutique vineyard Loira Vines where Adrian Carruthers creates six wine varieties plus craft cider.

At Cabbage Tree Hill Wines on the outskirts of Beaconsfield, lunch could be a gourmet platter of fresh local produce paired with their award-winning wine. Say hello to their flock of Baby Doll Southdown sheep that range through the vineyard to create biodiversity.

Don’t want to drink and drive? Settle into a luxury glamping experience at Swinging Gate Vineyard.

Black Cow Bistro Launceston

Enjoying a prime steak at Black Cow Bistro, Launceston. Photo: Kerry Heaney

Feast on local produce

For a taste of Tasmania’s premium beef cuts, Black Cow Bistro makes a former butcher’s shop a carnivore’s must stop. Positioned on the edge of the River Tamar, award-winning Stillwater Restaurant in the old flour mill serves up dishes that will drag your eyes away from the view. Grain of the Silos, aptly named after the quartet of former silos now converted into a hotel, serves fresh seasonal produce that doesn’t even have a chance to hit the markets.

Stillwate rSeven Launceston
Stillwater restaurant

Above – Stillwater Seven room; Popcorn and fresh bread in the pantry minibar; Stillwater restaurant. Photos: Kerry Heaney

Stay at Stillwater Seven

You will need three days at least to complete my top things to do in Launceston, so I suggest you find somewhere to stay.

Launceston’s iconic 1830s flour mill on the edge of the River Tamar has long been home to the award-winning Stillwater restaurant. Now you can sleep at the mill in seven carefully crafted rooms nestled into the bones of the mill at Stillwater Seven. Each one of the luxuriously appointed rooms has stunning waterfront views. Still, the little touches like freshly baked house bread, house-made butter, and warm popcorn lift this experience even higher. The pantry bar is one of the most extensively stocked I have enjoyed. It is full of premium Tasmanian produce. There are even more treats in the guest lounge. Inside it’s dark and moody with plenty of rustic exposed beams.  This is cosy décor that perfectly showcases the expansive views outside. Breakfast in Stillwater below is included, but you still need to book.  I absolutely enjoyed staying at Stillwater Seven, and it easily makes my list of top things to do in Launceston.

I’ve also enjoyed staying at Peppers Silo Hotel, which has a dog ambassador.  Archie is a black lab who resides in reception and greets everyone when they check in.  It’s great to get a doggie fix when travelling as I miss my best friend.

Just out of Launceston, glamping at Domescapes at Swinging Gate Vineyard on the Tamar Valley Wine Route is another great option.

Aussie Town of the Year 2022

Whether it’s the fresh air, delicious food or total relaxation that you are seeking, Tasmania has what so many people have been looking for over the last two years.  Wotif’s research indicates that 21 per cent of Aussies say their desire to travel to Tasmania has grown in the last 12+ months*, driven by travellers from NSW and VIC. Demand for the city has grown by over 12 per cent on, so is easy to see why it tops Wotif’s list of Aussie Town of the Year 2022. The city also offers great accommodation affordability, with an average daily accommodation rate of $160 in 2021.   

Disclaimer: Eat drink and be Kerry travelled as the guest of Tourism Tasmania.