Launceston and Tamar Valley

Highlights | Accommodation | Road Trip Essentials

© Rob Burnett

Whether it’s a vibrant farmer’s market, a fun-filled family festival in the heart of Launceston, or a lazy day spent touring cellar doors, the Tamar Valley is a delight. Add it to your self-drive road trip itinerary and see for yourself!

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Launceston – ‘Lonnie’ to the locals – is Tasmania’s second largest city and it is your gateway to the wineries, restaurants and natural beauty of the magnificent Tamar Valley.

The arts scene in Launceston has exploded in recent years, with the (in)famous MONA FOMA festival travelling north from Hobart to spread their eclectic, thought-provoking perspectives on life. 

Enjoying the wine at Clover Hill on your Lap of Tasmania road trip
Clover Hill Vineyard | 📷: Andrew Wilson

Festivale is family-friendly and Effervescence Tasmania is a sparkling wine extravaganza – it’s easy to see why Launceston is one of Australia’s most exciting small-cities.

From buzzing Launceston in the south to laid-back Low Head in the north, keep reading to find out more about Launceston and the Tamar Valley, and plan your Tasmanian road trip itinerary!

Read More: Best Places to Stay in Launceston

Highlights of Launceston and the Tamar Valley

Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG)

Take the children to QVMAG at Inveresk in Launceston on your Lap of Tasmania road trip
QVMAG at Inveresk | 📷: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett

The artistic heart and soul of Launceston, QVMAG provides a fascinating insight into Tasmania’s prehistoric, aboriginal and colonial histories. The kids will love Phenomena Factory – a hands-on interactive science centre that won’t cost you a penny.

Cataract Gorge

Relax on the grass at Cataract Gorge on your Lap of Tasmania road trip
Take the family to Cataract Gorge near Launceston | 📷: Tourism Tasmania

As you make your way out of Launceston up the West Tamar Highway, put aside a half-day to explore Cataract Gorge.

Multi-coloured peacocks strut their way through the cool gardens on the northern side, while the southern side is perfect for a picnic or dip in the water at Launceston ‘beach’. The graceful arches of Kings Bridge link both sides, or you can take the scenic route via the longest single-span chairlift in the world!

Read More: 12 Must-Pack Items for Your Tasmania Holiday

Tamar Valley Wine Route

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a veteran wine taster or you simply love the occasional glass of sparkling – dozens of little wineries hide among the rolling hills of the Tamar Valley waiting for you to pull up and have a taste of their delicious cool-climate wines.

The Tamar Valley Wine Centre in Exeter should be your first port of call to pick up a map and plan your Tamar Valley road trip.

Visit Wines for Joanie on your Lap of Tasmania road trip
Wines for Joanie | 📷: Rob Burnett

Have you ever contemplated a Tasmanian tree-change? Andrew and Prue from Wines for Joanie did just that, packing their bags and making the move from Queensland to start their own tiny winery. One sip is all it takes to realise they made the right decision!

Moore’s Hill make a smashing riesling and are at the forefront of sustainable wine making in Tasmania, while further up the valley you’ll find Pinot ‘d’ Pig – unofficial GM at Holm Oak Winery when he isn’t consuming apples by the bucket load! A tasting flight in their sun-dappled tasting room is the best way to experience some of Tassie’s finest pinots.

Taste some wines at Moores Hill Winery on your Lap of Tasmania road trip
Moores Hill Winery

Keen for a glass of sparkling as good, if not better than anything you’ll find in France? The sunny east bank of the Tamar Valley is where you need to be – at wineries like Jansz, Clover Hill and Dalrymple.

Don’t forget to stay safe and assign a designated driver.

🤔 Did you know…?

Tamar Valley Resort is home to the biggest jumping pillow in the world!

Seahorse World

Visit Seahorse World on your Lap of Tasmania road trip
Seahorse

With their curly tails and long faces seahorses are some of the cutest fish you’ll find in the world’s oceans. Unfortunately, many species are now endangered and rely on the amazing work done by organisations such as Seahorse World for their very survival.

With touch-pools for the kids, interactive displays and their very own aquarium, at Seahorse World in Beauty Point you’ll come face-to-snout with not only Tasmania’s own pot-bellied seahorse, but weedy seadragons and giant cuttlefish as well!

George Town and Low Head

Visit Low Head Lighthouse on your Lap of Tasmania road trip
Low Head Lighthouse | 📷: Chris Crerar

Fancy a penguin tour? Want to learn more about Australia’s oldest pilot station from the early 1800s? Or maybe you want to experience the earth-shattering tone of the Low Head Foghorn that can be heard up to 30km out to sea?

Low Head is all about slowing down, relaxing and soaking up the small-town vibes. The golden sands of East Beach and Bell Buoy Beach are fantastic at sunset, and snorkelling is popular in summer.

Where to Eat and Drink in Launceston and the Tamar Valley

Stop for a drink at Saint John Craft Beer on your Lap of Tasmania road trip
Saint John Craft Beer | 📷: Chris Crerar

Wine plays a big part in the Tamar Valley, and the region’s many quality restaurants make the most of this amazing bounty.

Launceston

In Launceston you’ll find Brisbane Street Bistro and Novaro’s among the best for dinner. 

Bryher on George Street is excellent for a light lunch and Stillwater can’t be beaten for their high-end breakfast.

Lonnie’s craft beer and cider scene is exceptional, and you could easily spend an afternoon between
St John Craft Beer, Tandy’s Alehouse and Red Brick Road Ciderhouse.

Enjoy a wine at Josef Chromy Winery on your Lap of Tasmania road trip
Josef Chromy Tasmania | 📷: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett

Outside Launceston

Further afield, lunch is a picture-perfect affair alongside the blue waters and lush gardens of Josef Chromy Winery, while the sweeping Tamar views make Timbre at Velo Wines another great lunch option.

Markets and Cooking Schools

Duck into Harvest Market on a Saturday morning in Launceston for delicious breakfast treats and the finest produce fresh from the farm. Or if you’d like to brush up your cooking skills, why not book a day at Red Feather Cooking School in Hadspen?

🤔 Did you know…?

Tasmania’s most notorious bushranger, Matthew ‘Gentleman’ Brady, was so popular that even behind bars he received flowers from his female admirers 😗💐

If you’ve got a few minutes, drop by Brady’s Lookout near Rosevears for excellent views of the valley.

Launceston and Tamar Valley Events

Festivale

Go to Festivale on your Lap of Tasmania road trip
Festivale | 📷: Rob Burnett

The green lawns, elm trees and cheeky monkeys make Launceston’s City Park the perfectly appropriate venue for the 3-day celebration of summer known as Festivale. Showcasing the very best food, wine, beer, arts and entertainment in Tasmania’s north, this is one event you can’t miss.

  • Where: Launceston and Hobart
  • When: February
  • Find out more: Festivale

MONA FOMA

Life. Death. Laughter. Tears. Music. Dance. MONA FOMA Festival is an eclectic, thought provoking riot of ideas cloaked in art. Put on your dancing shoes and kick up your heels for one of the world’s premier modern arts festivals!

  • Where: Launceston and Hobart
  • When: January
  • Find out more: MOFO Festival

Effervescence Tasmania

Lap of Tasmania road trip
Josef Chromy Wines | 📷: Liza-Jane Sowden

Combining bubbles, beats and the rolling green hills of Relbia, Effervescence Festival is a celebration of the essence of Tasmania. Whether it’s wine tastings, grand degustations courtesy of Michelin-starred chefs, or simply chilling out in a beanbag with a cheese platter and a glass of bubbles, Effervescence Tasmania says goodbye spring and hello summer!

Launceston and Tamar Valley Accommodation

Stay in luxury at the Hatherley Birrell Collection on your Lap of Tasmania road trip
Hatherley Birrell Collection | 📷: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett

Launceston

Launceston’s size and central location make it an ideal base from which to explore the region and stock up on supplies before continuing your Lap of Tasmania road trip.

The luxury suites of the Hatherley Birrell Collection provide a stylish and contemporary retreat from the hustle and bustle, and they’re within walking distance of Launceston’s main attractions. Or for a touch of olde worlde charm with a modern twist we recommend The Florance, an immaculately restored 19th century homestead close to City Park, QVMAG and Harvest Market.

Read More: Best Places to Stay in Launceston

Stay at East Beach at Low Head on your Lap of Tasmania road trip
East Beach at Low Head | 📷:

Tamar Valley

If you’re searching for serenity we know you’ll love the Tamar River Apartments at Rosevears, situated in the middle of the famous Brown Brothers Tamar Ridge Estate. Another great option is Jensens Bed and Breakfast at Beauty Point, or the more budget friendly Ou+look BnB, also in Rosevears.

Caravan Parks

Campervanners have a range of options up and down the valley. The Big 4 chain have caravan parks in both Launceston and Low Head, while Beauty Point Tourist Park is one of the most beautiful in Tasmania – and it’s right next to Seahorse World and Platypus House.

🤔 Did you know…?

Cataract Gorge is home to the world’s longest single-span chairlift!

Launceston and Tamar Valley Weather

Launceston and the Tamar Valley experience a cool, temperate climate. Unlike much of Tasmania the region receives very little wind in winter, meaning foggy mornings and blue skies are common at this time of year.

Read More: The Best Time to Visit Tasmania

Summer temperatures vary from 11°C at night up to 23°C during the day, while winter temperatures range from 4°C to 11°C.

Launceston and Tamar Valley Road Trip Essentials

Wondering what to pack for Tasmania’s cool climate?

To help you out we’ve created a handy Tasmanian road trip packing list.

It lists all the most important things you need to take on your road trip, making your road trip planning a breeze.

Get it Here: Tasmania Road Trip Packing List

Read More: Driving Times and Distances in Tasmania

Devonport ⇌ Launceston: 100km / 1hr 10 mins (1hr 30mins for campervans)

Launceston ⇌ Beauty Point: 50km / 45 mins (1hr for campervans)

Beauty Point ⇌ Low Head: 45km / 40 mins (45 mins for campervans)

Low Head ⇌ Bridport: 60km / 45 mins (60mins for campervans)

Petrol Stations: Launceston (24hr), Legana, Exeter, Beaconsfield, Beauty Point, George Town

EV Battery Charging Stations (see PlugShare)

  • Launceston – Colonial Launceston (patrons only) – Tesla
  • Launceston – Stillwater Restaurant and Seven Rooms – Tesla
  • Launceston – Hero Collection Madiba Apartment (customers only) – Tesla
  • Tamar Valley – Moores Hill Estate (customers only) – Tesla

A list of Tasmania’s national parks can be found here: Parks and Wildlife

A valid permit is needed before you can drive into these parks. For more information on the which pass you should buy, click here.

Permits can be purchased online here, from National Park Visitor Centres, Accredited Tasmanian Travel Information Centres, the Spirit of Tasmania, Service Tasmania shops, or by mail/email following these instructions.

Discounts are available for Seniors.

For Tasmania Police emergency road closure alerts click here.

The region in and around Launceston and the Tamar Valley experiences thick fog in winter, mostly in the mornings. Use your fog lights and drive to the conditions, remembering that wildlife may also be on the road at dawn.

Next destination on your Lap of Tasmania?

If you’re travelling clockwise, your next Lap of Tasmania destination is the ‘Tin Dragon’ of North East Tasmania.

Travelling anti-clockwise, your next destination is the Cradle Coast and iconic Cradle Mountain!

Devonport and the Cradle Coast

North East Tasmania

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Dog and bear in suitcase - Lap of Tasmania Road trip

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