The Old Buildings of Launceston

2nd June, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Ian writes:

Yesterday afternoon we had headed towards the caravan park with blue(ish) skies and a promising outlook. It was a shame that we were dog-tired, a shame that we hadn't gone sight-seeing then. That's what I thought as I took a look out of the van windows this morning and saw that it was raining.

We should expect little else, really. It's not summertime in Tasmania, and as such rain is highly likely. It's all to do with the Roaring Forties, a band of wind that encircles the globe producing very changeable weather. The west and southwest of Tassie can, in the words of the Lonely Planet, be "blasted by strong winds and drenched by heavy rain". But I take hope in one particular word mentioned above: changeable. It started dull yesterday but ended up sunny, so it might happen again today, who knows?

It's just a brief drive from our caravan park into the centre of Launceston. We found a parking spot near to the centre ($2 for 5 hours parking - a steal) and walked into the heart of the town. We had picked up a leaflet yeterday marking all the oldest, and therefore most historic, buildings around Launceston and today was the day to go track them down. We saw the old Town Hall, the Post Office building with its clock-faced tower and the Batman Fawkner Inn. Sounds like a place where superheroes hang out after a hard day of saving the citizens of earth doesn't it? It's actually named after two explorers who both have some historical claim on founding Melbourne. Hang on ... someone from Tassie finding, I mean founding, Melbourne? It all seems like the wrong way around to me, but John Batman arrived there from Tasmania first and after a supposed treaty agreed with the aboriginals there, he claimed to be the 'largest landowner in the world'. Nothing like modesty, eh? Anyway, six months later he died bankrupt (hah- that'll teach him for boasting!) while John Pascoe Fawkner arrived six months after that and later became a leading Melbourne entrepreneur. Both planned their expeditions from the Cornwall Hotel, now known as the Batman Fawkner Inn. I still can't work out how they got to Tassie in the first place and yet missed Melbourne right there across the water ...

Launceston Town Hall.

The Cornwall Hotel, aka Batman Fawkner Inn.

Visiting old buildings was interspersed with a bit of shopping for some very boring items for the van and the occassional coffee refuel.The weather had been as changeable as expected - a little rain, some blue skies at times - but it wan't the best light for taking photos. Regardless, we made our way just outside of the CBD and over the South Esk River to see the Cataract Gorge - a very pretty little spot, and quite a surprise given its proximity to the town's built-up areas. Along the north bank are walkways that take you down to the cataract itself (that is, where the water is pinched between the rocky walls). It was a very calm spot, a great place for a cool walk at dusk. And if we find ourselves in Launceston again before leaving Tassie, and if the weather's better, we'll probably come back again.

Manda at Cataract Gorge, Launceston.

A rock shaped like a dog's head, an interpretation helped by the spray-painted eyes, nose and whiskers!