Launceston beginnings

Next time we return to South America we want to forget about the buses and hire a car so we can travel more independently. Before taking the leap into an international driving holiday, however, we felt like we needed to start somewhere smaller and somewhat easier.

That was the general premise behind our recent Tasmania trip earlier this year. Flying into Launceston, we had ten days in which to see as much as we could see before our flight home, which departed from Hobart.

1. Launceston

A cute little Nissan Micra was waiting for us when we arrived at Launceston airport on Saturday morning. Our car back home could eat it up as a snack. We had our TomTom with us so navigating anywhere would be easy. We’d rented a small apartment above a very cool retro vegetarian cafe using Airbnb, a service I keep coming back to whenever I travel. There were several patches of rain on the way. It seemed like it would be that kind of day.

Our room wasn’t quite ready as it was still early, so after breakfast at the cafe we decided to see the city. It was a pretty ugly day and we hadn’t thought to bring umbrellas with us but the lovely owner of the cafe gave us her red umbrella in case we needed it. There was a festival on at City Park that weekend but an entry fee and the rain put us off a little bit so we walked to the Automobile Museum instead. It was indoors and had a great collection of classic cars and motorcycles. I know nothing about either, but they were nice to look at and photograph.

We’d been previously told about the James Boag’s Brewery which was only a couple of blocks away but unfortunately the last tour for the day was fully booked so instead we walked around their Centre for Beer Lovers, which had some interesting advertisements for the beer from over the years, then purchased a paddle with four styles of beer (one of which was only available in Tasmania) and relaxed for a while in the diner.

It was check-in time and we returned to the apartment via the supermarket as it was also lunch time. We felt a bit strange taking the BBQ chicken we’d purchased into the vegetarian cafe where we had to pick up our keys so Bob waited outside until the coast was clear. Keys in hand, we snuck the chicken up the stairs feeling like outlaws (even though we weren’t doing anything that was against the rules) and in moments lunch was served.

The day had cleared up somewhat so we drove to Cataract Gorge Reserve and caught the cable car to the bottom. On a nice day I can see that it would be quite a popular place. There are a couple of diners, a swimming pool and a chairlift, as well as scenic walks with the odd peacock roaming around. It seemed like the rain clouds intended to hold out for us so we chose one of the shorter scenic walks then did a lap around the basin.

We discovered that the sun sets quite late during the summer in Launceston so we spent much of the afternoon and into the evening driving around looking for nice scenic views of the city. Our final stop for the day was Deadman’s Hollow Lookout, an ominously named spot with gorgeous views overlooking South Esk River. It was 8pm and the sun was beginning to set so we got out of the car and took a couple of photos, making sure not to stray too far from the car.

Our only full Launceston day was over and despite the sketchy weather we managed to fit a lot in. We opted not to have a late night as we had a big drive ahead of us the following morning.

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