A Cheapskate's Guide to
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Discover the vibrant wonders of Launceston with its small city charms
and many well preserved Victorian and Georgian buildings.
Founded in 1806, Launceston is the Australia's third-oldest city, with a fascinating history traced in its beautiful old buildings and streetscapes dating from early Colonial and convict times to Georgian and Victorian eras.
Its many well preserved Victorian and Georgian buildings, together with its diverse collection of art-deco architecture, give the city an unusual period ambience.
The architecture of the mid-to-late 20th century that dominates most large modern cities and many smaller ones, is quite rare and a walk around the city leaves one with the feeling of being wrapped in a timeless cocoon of yesteryear.
Greater Launceston has a population of 106,153 (2011 census) and the charm and pace of a regional centre, with the facilities of a much larger city.
Launceston Travel and Information Centre
Free map of Launceston CBD
Out and about in Launceston
RV Dump Points
Real Estate For Sale
On the 14th October, 1804, Lt Gov. Paterson embarked for Van Diemen's Land on the Buffalo at Sydney Town and with a party of soldiers proceeded to his command of the intended establishment at Port Dalrymple.
The first encampment was at Outer Cove (now George Town), but the lack of fresh water, exposure to the wind and infertile land persuaded Paterson to move the settlement to York Town, upstream on the western bank of the Tamar in early 1805.
Here fresh water seemed to be in abundance, and the land well suited to both cultivation and grazing.
Winter proved this spot to be less than ideal and in spring the farms and gardens of the inhabitants flooded, and many of the Bengali cattle, transported from a warmer climate, died of exposure.
settlement was moved to Launceston
It was for this reason that towards the end of 1805 the settlement was moved to Launceston, which was selected for its sheltered position, abundant green pasture (comparing favourably with the Hawkesbury), and the sparseness of its lofty trees.
The matter did not rest here, because Governor Macquarie, during his term in office between 1810 and 1821, decided that the settlement should after all be situated at George Town where it was more accessible.
This indecision retarded Launceston's growth until the 1820s.
Initially the settlement was called Patersonia after commandant of the British garrison Lt. Col. William Paterson, who later served as Lieutenant-Governor of northern Van Diemen's Land from 1804 to 1808.
He later changed the name to Launceston in honour of the New South Wales Governor Captain Philip Gidley King, who was born in Launceston, Cornwall.
A description of Launceston c 1852
Launceston [is] in the parish of Launceston and county of Cornwall, is the second town of the colony, and is in lat. 41°. 24'. S., and lon. 147°. 10'. E.
Launceston offers a great variety of things to see and do and I have offered just a few here to get you started.
The Cataract Gorge and Cliff Grounds
The Cataract Gorge Reserve covers 192 hectares and is home to a wide variety of plants and animals that live in the bushland and waterways and make up this a magnificent treat for locals and tourists alike.
It has numerous walking trails with lookouts, as well as the world's longest single span chairlift, a suspension bridge, an open air swimming pool, a children's playground, free barbeques and picnic lawns, the Gorge Restaurant and Basin Cafe (which serve the finest Tasmanian produce and have magnificent views of the Reserve).
In the Cliff Grounds there's a band rotunda with historical information, exotic deciduous trees, azaleas and rhododendrons and peacocks strutting about the graceful Victorian gardens among towering conifers.
The gardens were designed in the style popular in Victorian England at the time.
It is also a collector’s garden, with trees and other plants from all over the world planted there, as the European settlers still had nostalgic yearnings for the gardens of their homeland and is the reason why, in the 1890’s, they tried to recreate the places that were familiar to them, including the decorative peacocks that were introduced and that still roam the grounds along with the native wallabies that can be seen grazing on the lawns alongside them.
Driving south out of Launceston, on Hobart Road, you will find this magnificent home to your left and it is well worth a visit.
This restaurant, cafe and gallery complex sits on the edge of the CBD and is easily accessible by car or foot.
The mill itself was considered a fine establishment - operated by a race from the wild Cataract Gorge, it had stores holding up to 10,000 bushels of wheat, a five bedroom brick cottage and other out buildings.
Mr. George Yates bought a share of the water mill in 1845 for 4400 pounds.
In 1847 Mr. Yates offered his Supply Mills, on the Supply River, for lease and it was taken up by my great-great grandfather, James Cartledge and his brother, John.
A little later in this work we will be visiting the heritage listed, Supply River mill site, further up the Tamar.
While the milling operation seems to have been a little less than profitable for Mr. Yates, it was the income from the water supply, estimated to exceed 1500 pounds per annum, that was ‘The El Dorado of Launceston’.
The Cartledge brothers grabbed a piece of the action, purchasing water from the mill-race and on-selling it, from a tanker, to the ships in the harbour.
An advert in the Launceston Examiner, Wednesday, 24th November, 1847, reads:
"J and J. Cartledge respectfully inform masters and owners of vessels that they have purchased the Union Water Tanks, by which the shipping are supplied with pure unadulterated Cataract water at the very lowest possible price.
They also respectfully inform masters and mates of vessels that the Union is the only water tank supplying shipping that can get pure cataract water, as all others are compelled to procure a supply from the river in the immediate vicinity of the filth and dirt from the sewers and cesspools of the town, or where the public are accustomed to bathe."
Carters paid the mill sixpence a cask and by the time it reached residents it ranged from eighteen pence to three shillings (thirty-six pence).
art gallery and craft centre
In the late 1970s, the mill was bought by the Tasmanian Government for an art gallery and craft centre with restoration work undertaken, funded partially by the Government and the Launceston City Council.
The Mill became home to the multi award-winning Stillwater Restaurant, River Cafe and Restaurant in 2000 and a couple of years later, the Mill Providore Gifts and Gallery was established on the two floors above the restaurant.
A Creative Fund-raiser
Back in around 1979/81 (sorry about the memory) the centre decided that it wanted a paved area at the entry to the building and its lack of funds caused it to come up with a most exciting and practical fund-raiser - a part of which still exists today.
A fete was held and the people of Launceston were invited to leave their mark on one or more unfired pavers, at a cost that would pay for the end product and its installation.
The offer was taken up by many, including me, my (then) partner and our kids and I have recently revisited to have a look (and take the above photo).
The pavers represent a wonderful time-capsule of thirty-five odd years ago.
More Things to See
'A Cheapskate's Guide to Exploring Tasmania By Car', 'A World of Trivia' and 'Dear Grandpa Pencil'
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