Launceston (‘Lonnie’ to locals) squats in a basin where the North and South Esk rivers meet to form the Tamar River. It’s Tasmania’s second-largest city, but maintains an unconcerned, big-country-town pace. Hobart is far more cosmopolitan, but Launceston’s remarkable stock of Victorian, Federation, Edwardian and Art Deco houses is the rival of any Australian city.
Like most Tasmanian towns, early Launceston was anything but refined. When the Reverend Horton visited in 1822, he wrote to his superiors: ‘The wickedness of the people of Launceston exceeds all description. If you could witness the ignorance, blasphemy, drunkenness, adultery and vice of every description, you would use every effort to send them more missionaries.’ It’s still a vaguely pugilistic town – there seem to be as many bikers and shirtless, shouting drunks as police – but the University of Tasmania, some great restaurants and regularly scheduled AFL football games are infusing the place with a more worldly outlook.
See www.discoverlaunceston.com for more Lonnie low-down.