Launceston is Tasmania's second largest city and sits at the junction of the North and South Esk Rivers. From here, the broad Tamar River valley opens north to Bass Strait 58 kilometres (36 miles) away. Elegant historic streetscapes and century old parks and gardens sit beside revitalised areas such as Launceston Seaport with its restaurants and cafes. A boardwalk links the Seaport to Inveresk, where you can visit one of Australia's best regional galleries, the Queen Victoria Museum at Inveresk.
With a population of 68,000 the city has a strong sense of identity. The boardwalk also takes you to Home Point rowing course, skirting Royal Park and King's Park, passing Ritchie's Mill, with its galleries and restaurants, before zig-zagging into Cataract Gorge, a place of mystical beauty. Its steep, rugged cliffs and wild areas attract climbers.
Launceston is a good base for exploring the cool-climate vineyards of the Tamar Valley. From Launceston you can also explore national parks such as Narawntapu (known for wildlife spotting) and Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair, or the historic villages of Evandale and Longford with their grand old farms and mansions and Woolmers, Brickendon, Panshangar, and Clarendon.
The city was established in 1806, after the collapse of Port Dalrymple (now George Town) at the mouth of the Tamar. It was the Island's northern military base and a trading centre for wheat and wool farmers and over time as their wealth grew the city developed its grand vision.
Launceston's weather is temperate like most of Tasmania and averaging 24 degrees Celcius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) during the summer and 6 degrees Celcius (42 degrees Fahrenheit) on winter days. It is a major gateway to Tasmania and is 198 kilometres (123 miles) or 2.5 hours' drive north of Hobart.