Ace Rental Cars Blog

A Day from Hobart to Launceston

When people talk about visiting Hobart, the focus tends to be on Mona, Mount Wellington and the food. Of course, there’s so much else to do, from wandering around Salamanca Market on Sunday mornings to touring the Cascade Brewery. But once you’ve done the city sights, it’s time to book a rental car and explore further. Already driven to the Tasman Peninsula to visit Port Arthur? Hunted the Huon Valley for fresh produce? Had lunch at New Norfolk’s Bush Inn, one of Australia’s oldest pubs? Then it’s time to head north to discover second-largest city, Launceston, on a jam-packed day trip.

On Your Way to Launceston

If you’ve filled up the rental car and hit the highway, you could travel the 200km between Hobart and Launceston in less than three hours. But that is a long time to spend in the car, plus you’re cutting through some great parts of the Tasmania, so you should stop to have a look along the way.

Go the slighter longer way, taking the A5 through the Central Highlands and enjoy what some people refer to as Lake Country. Stop at the Steppes Reserve, the home of sheep graziers, the Wilson family, for more than a century. During that time there was also a police station, weather observation site, post office and school. Later, it was recognised as a bird sanctuary. Drop by to check out the homestead and other preserved buildings. Look, too, for a wooden sign for the Steppes Sculptures. Artist Stephen Walker has made 14 bronze sculptures of native animals mounted on large stones and arranged them like a mini Stonehenge.

Further north, near the town of Longford, drop into Woolmers Estate. From 1817 to 1994, this property was home to family of Thomas Archer and includes grand houses, workers’ cottages, a chapel and all the other buildings and outhouses that are part of a large pastoral property. At times, more than a hundred people would have lived and worked here. To see inside Woolmers House, and view the family’s personal collections, join a guided tour (there’s one at 10.30am and another at 12.30pm). Otherwise take a self-guided walk around the grounds, taking in the buildings and stunning gardens.

Best Things to Do in Launceston

As you drive into Launceston, you’ll see the turn-off to Cataract Gorge, one of the city’s biggest attractions. This incredible natural attraction is just the spot to take in some sun. Walk around the gardens and up to the basin and suspension bridge. Don’t miss out on a ride on the Gorge Scenic Chairlift, the world’s longest single-span chairlift. And if it’s summer, bring your swimsuit for a dip in the pool.

Launceston was once given a gift of macaque monkeys by the people of Ikeda City in Japan. Now they live in an enclosure in City Park, but they’re not the only attraction. This huge green space is filled with mature trees, formal gardens, water features and children’s playgrounds, as well as the John Hart Conservatory, built in 1932, and now home to hundreds of rainforest plants.

Fun fact: way back in the beginning of the colony, it was safer to drink beer than water. In 1881, the James Boag Brewery was built on the banks of the Esk River. These days, you can take a tour of the historical site and find out how traditional brewing techniques are teamed with state-of-the-art technology to create a range of award-winning lagers and ales. For anyone who’s not the designated driver, the tour ends with a tasting of three of James Boags beers in the heritage-listed bar.

It mightn’t be a big city, but Launceston has been blessed with some great restaurants, including Stillwater, considered one of the best eateries in Tasmania, Novaro’s and Rupert & Hound. They’re all upmarket choices though, so if you want a place that’s casual and comfortable, try Bread + Butter. The all-day menu features classic eggs on sourdough, as well as gorgeous pastries, pizza slices, toasties and pies.

Explore Ben Lomond

If you’ve got some time left in your day, take a detour on the way back to Hobart and take in Ben Lomond National Park. At its heart is a tall, rocky peak called Legges Tor. But before you get there, you’ll have to travel along Jacobs Ladder, a set of switchbacks that make this one interesting drive. There’s a 5.5km return walk – in winter it becomes a cross-country ski trail – from the Alpine Village to Little Hell, from where you’ll get amazing views across the plateau, Lake Baker and Lake Youl. Make sure you leave plenty of time before the sun goes down to head back down the mountain and begin the drive back to Hobart.

Ready to explore from Hobart to Launceston? Hire a rental car before you leave.

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