Travelling to Launceston, Tasmania | Travel Guide

We arrived in Tassie after a heart stopping moment on the plane where we were advised that we may need to fly back through to Melbourne to be transferred into another plane! Luckily weather permit is a 5 minute window to land and we were told that other planes were being re-routed back to Melbourne for refuelling. We in fact are so lucky because we only had a weekend away and every delay would be detrimental to our plans! So we collected our bags and walked to the AutoHertz rental car booth to pick up our car. We are then on the road in our nice blue Toyota which was more powerful than we thought! All individual café or restaurant experiences are posted as a separate review otherwise, this post would just be way too long for you to read. Before we get started, Tasmania is such an amazing place to visit. You are within 3 hours driving distance to anywhere and depending on where you are located, even shorter. Everywhere we visited (except for the maze) was within roughly a 30 minute drive away. The roads are beautiful, smooth, fast and most importantly the scenery is quite amazing as you drive through the hills. Like a scene out of "The Sound of Music"!

Our First Day in Launceston 

 Princes Square Park had the greenest, brightest tree leaves which allowed us to have a relaxing time strolling around the small park. It’s almost unreal to see tree leaves so bright. This surely isn't something we see in Sydney.

We hadn't had anything to eat since our travel breakfast tradition (i.e. Macca's breakie) so we googled nearby cafes and decided to drop by Cocobean Café to grab coffee and at the same time, explored the Town Centre. It was pretty quiet for a Saturday which was a nice change from the hustle and bustle of Sydney.

It was time to check into our Airbnb stay at Eleanor Townhouse where we were pleasantly greeted by the owner (Rick). Rick was so friendly and gave us a tour of the townhouse. Rick was very professional from the start! He was happy with us checking in early and was so welcoming, even provided us with recommendations and offered to drop by freshly baked bread every morning! This place was amazing, we loved having our own courtyard and the loft style bedroom made our stay fee very "Victorian". Everything down to the peaceful quotes left around the house just made it that much better. We left our bags at our home and off we went to Cataract Gorge. 

Cataract Gorge is only a 5-10 minute drive from the main city of Launceston. When we arrived, we saw many colourful hippie vans at the parking lot. It was an interesting experience to see so many vans each making their own statements. One thing we had to adjust to was metered parking almost everywhere in Launceston. We actually had no more coins in our wallet but luckily, some had fallen inside my bag. 

Cataract Gorge is famous for it being such a large and beautiful sight to visit, but also for the world’s longest chairlift. There’s only one booth where you can purchase tickets from which is at the entrance. We decided to walk to past the suspending bridge (wobbly bridge) and saw many colourful peacocks on the way.  This was perfect because we were able to catch he chairlift back to the start! It is definitely recommended and it's quite cheap as well.

In the afternoon, we stopped by Cuccina which is a highly recommended café spot from various sources so we just had to try it. If you like to read about our review of Cuccina, click here.

After Cuccina, we hopped back in the car with our sights on City Park. We visited primarily for the view. It tonour suprise we saw snow monkeys! The ones with the bright red asses! There were so many monkeys, including both adult and baby monkeys.. to make things even better the attraction is free. So far, Launceston is giving us a great lasting impression. City Park is so great for the eyes and if you’re a flower enthusiast, this is the place for you as well.

At this point, we decided to make our way back to Eleanor Townhouse to relax and unwind. 
In the evening, we had tickets to Dan Hong’s Great Chef Series and when we double checked the duration printed on the ticket, we thought to ourselves it must be a printing error. The duration of our dining experience was from 6:30pm to 11:30pm. But it was and we did dine for 5 hours. That’s 5 hours of pure paradise indulging and seeing great food prepared by talented students at TasTAFE. We were also lucky enough to sample some rest local wines and see Dan Hong’s personality.. not to forget his two beautiful children either! It was an unforgettable evening.  

Our second day in Launceston

We had an early morning start at Harvest Markets however after arriving back late the following night, we had a hard time waking up. To make it harder, the weather was drizzly, cloudy and was the perfect sleeping in weather. It was really relaxing staring outside our courtyard, watching the rain patter along with the sound of the fountain.
Eventually we got out of bed, got ready and made our way towards Harvest Markets which is opened every Saturday regardless of the weather. They are well prepared and have umbrellas for people to borrow within the vicinity of the markets. From prior research, we saw that there was an Okonomiyaki store which I was dying to try.   

On our agenda today, we travelled out of Launceston and stopped at Grindelwald Swiss Village. It was very quiet when we arrived and wasn't sure if the place was open. There are a few stores and souvenir shops. You can play putt putt golf here, race cars around or jump on the large outdoor trampolines. If you do come here, make sure you walk to the top of the clock tower for a village view. This place was great to see but only if you have time to spare. There's not much else to explore at Grindelwald.

Next on our agenda was unknown. It was raining so we had to think of things to do in wet weather. One of the top recommended attraction for wet weather is to visit the Trevallyn Dam. When you park your car, you wouldn't know what to expect. I stepped out of the car and could only hear heavy water rushing. I felt like I was standing on top of a waterfall. It was so loud (almost scary). The view from the car park is great, but an added secret is that you can walk up the tower to get a better view of the grand dam in action. While this was an unplanned attraction, it was probably one of our favourite activities as it was a sight to be seen.

Lilydale Falls was next on the itinerary. It is located only a short drive away from Launceston and it is home to two cascading waterfalls inside the reserve. You can also pack your picnic basket as there are picnic spots along the way. If we had known, we would've packed some wine, cheese and crackers! The track is very easy, you don't need a high level of fitness to complete. In total it is only a 10 minute return walk with few steep inclines and stairs. The whole track is clearly highlighted so it is impossible to get lost! The minor effort pays off because well.. you can see for yourself how beautiful it was.

In the evening, we glammed ourselves up and dined at Black Cow Bistro which showcases premium dry aged, free range, grass fed, artificial hormone free Tasmanian beef. Without going into details, it was an unanimous decision that this is by far the BEST steak we have ever had.  

Our Third Day in Launceston

I just wanted to show you the view from a nearby street in Launceston. This was only a street away from the Eleanor Townhosue. It was unarguably one the most beautiful views of the residential areas in Launceston. Our agenda today was unplanned so we were able to decide what to do. However, we were also flying out the same night so being short on time, we should stay near Launceston. Guess what? We did the complete opposite and could've missed our flight.

In the morning, we visited Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery and spent majority of the time in the interactive centre which was clearly was more for children. There's not much to do in the museum and you can explore everything in less than 20 minutes. We decided to waste no more time at the museum and made our way to a nearby park.

Kings Park is pet friendly and we had more fun watching unleashed dogs run around in the grass as their owners were walking the Ritchie Mill's walk. The weather was beautiful and clear and it was really nice to relax in the sun (finally!). We found a bench and sat there waiting for time to pass as we had a reservation at Stillwater Restaurant at 1pm.

The service at Stillwater Restaurant was notable however we wished we could say the same about their food which left much to be desired for the premium you are paying.  

Remember when we said we had limited time and had to fly out at night? Well, we decided to visit Tasmazia; a crazy complex located in the wonderfully named "Promised Land" (no, not the Shire) in the heart of Tasmania's beautiful Cradle Mountain and Lakes District. Just a bit further from Tasmazia was a perfect vantage point of Cradle mountain. We so wanted to visit, as we saw the mountain for almost half the 2hr drive it took us to reach the maze and it looked spectacular. However the weather had started to cause us problems again and we lost visibility of the mountain so we decided against the idea. Tasmazia is the largest maze complex in the world. We stupidly thought we could make it through to the end within 30 minutes, but with no map to assist us this time frame was quite difficult to meet. To put it in simplistic terms, we were lost in the maze and had to follow and remember the quirky quotes located in corners to find our way out. We did manage to do it, but by two thirds a way through we thought to start running through (partially because it started to rain as well). Once we were out (and yes we did make it out, we aren't still stuck in the maze writing this article - send help - ) we found ourselves at the miniature village of colourful miniature buildlings. There's also a mini embassy section which has a beautiful backdrop of cradle mountain.

We then headed straight to the airport and made our flight back to Sydney. 
Thank you Northern Tasmania Tourism for this amazing escape to Tasmania. You really did showcase the best of Launceston and we were great full for the full foodie experiences. What a trip it was and if anything, it has made us want to come back for Hobart! 
We'll make sure to bring the camera with us!

Black Cow Bistro | Launceston

Black Cow Bistro was circled a number of times on our itinerary; we were excited to say the least. It has now ended up as one of our best experiences in Launceston! While we got caught up in the beauty of Tasmania, the meal you eat at the end of the day is the difference between leaving a giant exclamation mark on your memory, or a simple full stop. Let's just say the steak was bloody damn good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Note the exclamation marks). Apologies in advance for the quality of the photos. The lighting is perfect for mood setting and ambiance, but not for food photography. Sometimes it's best to just leave the camera at home and enjoy the meal at hand!

Black Cow Bistro showcases some of the finest premium dry aged beef that Tasmania has to offer. It is great to see a restaurant making the most of Australia's premium beef market. Not only is it good for the economy, the freshness of the meat makes us happy. Both steaks below were sourced locally from Cape Grim, Smithton.

Scotch Fillet (aged 30 days)
Scotch fillet is known for its fat content and therefore is a hard piece of meat to cook properly. Well cooked, the fat should be soft and break away with the meat, however on the other scale you get tough and chewy fat that's basically inedible. You can see in the picture the steak was grilled to perfection. The fat was almost non existent and the taste of the charcoal was really evident. The truffled bearnaise sauce elevated this steak from something great to something amazing, we just wish we had more of it. But at $4.5 per serving we thought it be wise not to go back for seconds. 

Eye Fillet (aged 40 days)
Eye Fillet is most definitely one of the best cuts of meat. The pure quality of the eye fillet that is ridden of any excess fats and is both delicate and tender to touch. It is lean and extremely healthy... except of course when you combine it with the same truffled bearnaise sauce mentioned above. This was simply an amazing cut of steak and since visiting Launceston we have not found anything better. It was cooked impeccably and with a serving of potato au gratin on the side, made for a masterpiece of a meal. Simple plating, but great food.

Vanilla bean creme brulee
We thought it might be best to wash down all that meat with something sweet and the vanilla bean creme brulee was almost jumping off the menu. The delicate vanilla bean aroma swept the room as it was brought to the table and the taste was prominent throughout the dessert. It was fabulous, and served with a side of poached rhubarb, rosewater gel and chocolate soil it was a nice way to finish the  meal.

Chocolate lava cake
A rich, velvetety-smooth lava cake that is extremely satisfying for chocolate lovers. Served with vanilla ice cream and on a bed of caramel, it was the perfect mixture of bitter and sweet without going over the top.

Black Cow Bistro can be a little hefty on your back pocket, but believe us when we say that it is worth every cent. The fresh, locally sourced beef and the friendly staff made for a great night out on the town. We highly recommend visiting when you are next in Launceston!

Black Cow Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Stillwater | Launceston

Stillwater was another cafe circled on our itinerary. We imagined ourselves spending hours dining on great food while enjoying the view of the Tamar River. This is what we came to expect after reading the mountains of reviews online, each boasting about the food, service and scenery. Well let's just say that we agree that it is a beautiful view.

As always, we started off with refreshing drinks and in this case, Matt's all time favourite, Strange Love was available. This was a welcomed start to the meal which soon dragged out to be a long meal. We had allocated 2 hours to dine here in order to maintain our itinerary. Given it was a late lunch on a weekday we thought this should be plenty of time. The meals were brought out very slowly, in fact we ended up being 1 hour behind schedule when we left.

Selection of cured meats
The selection of cured meats came served with onion and that was all. There was no bread to accompany the meat, or olives to cleanse the palette. We found ourselves taking bread and cheese from our other entree just to have a change of taste. The flavours of the cured meat was definitely enjoyable, but the board was definitely lacking substance and after a couple of bites it became a little too intense.

Selection of pâté, terrine, cheese, pickles & bread
The pate board was brought out and we were excited to say the least. Cheese, pate and pickles make for a great combination and we couldn't wait to dig in. The pate was different to what we were expecting and it didn't resonate well with us. The texture was off putting so we decided to leave half behind. We did however polish off the cheese, but that could have purely been a result of the previous entree. The taste of pate was different, so this was definitely an opportunity for our taste buds to explore.

Moulting Bay Oyster
We were contemplating on skipping on oysters as Matt is widely known by everyone to be 100% against the kind. Thankfully Stillwater had the option of a single oyster which we opted for. The presentation was beautiful and elegant as it sit on top a bed of rocks. More importantly it was fresh and had a nice extra zing from the yuzu and red onion. Really simple and yet we wish now that we had ordered more.

Jerk spiced chicken breast
Chicken breast is our least favourite thing to order on a menu, even though we love chicken. The risk of receiving an overcooked piece of chicken breast that s dry is so high.. we did however think that of all places, Stillwater should be able to deliver a great piece of chicken. The chicken was overcooked and needed some sauce to compensate and bring the dish together. The presentation was in similar beautiful though.

Duck Laksa
We should have been more skeptical and ask why a contemporary Tasmanian cuisine restaurant will have Laksa on the menu. But we were feeling in the mood for Laksa and wasn't expecting the traditional punchy flavours. We were however hoping it would taste somewhat similar, except almost everything tasted like coconut with lots of lemon juice. This was more like a duck curry than a duck laksa.

Stillwater Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cuccina Cafe | Launceston

When you find a good cafe it really does feel like you have hit the jackpot! We managed to found out about Cuccina Cafe through various websites and Cuccina popped up as one of the most recommended cafes to visit in Launceston. Since then, everyone we know visiting Launceston we tell MUST visit this cafe. The service was amazing and everyone was welcoming and friendly!

We ordered two freshly squeezed juices to start the lunch and boy, they were refreshing and definitely gave us a healthy kick start to our morning.

Hail Caesar Breakfast Eggs
We couldn't go past the hail caesar breakfast eggs. This had two poached eggs with crispy bacon, shaved parmesan served with your choice of toast and creamy caesar dressing. Crispy sourdough is our favourite so we had to get it on that. They were extremely generous with the parmesan, you can even see a bed of parmesan on the plate! But let's not skip over the important "WOW" factor that has got us telling all our friends about it. The BACON. It was beautifully crisp and had an amazing flavour to it, almost like it has been smoked. It was a real game changer that's for sure!

Pesto Eggs
Christie was slightly on the healthier side (or so she thought) and ordered the pesto eggs with two poached eggs and avocado. The generous bacon serving with sourdough and hollandaise sauce was thick, creamy and so bad for you. While the hollandaise sauce was pretty damn good, and let's obviously not forget about those mouthwatering pesto flavoured eggs... but again the bacon is what set this meal apart from any other cafe. Hot damn!

Cuccina Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Harvest Market | Launceston

Harvest Market was one of the top places to visit in Launceston and we are glad we could be part of this day. We woke up and it was raining and had thought about not going. Honestly, if you are ever in Launceston and it rains on a Saturday, don't miss the markets! They have umbrellas for you to borrow as well. As we were only traveling, we visited the food stalls but could see many fresh produce stalls as well. Just make sure to go with a pocket full of cash as this is a cordless market! The nearest ATM is about 15 minutes away... not a fun walk in the rain.. 

A very enjoyable and tasty Okonomiyaki. There are two options available for you to select which is vegetarian or bacon. After having tried the bacon at Cuccina, we just couldn't go past bacon option! We watched our Okonomiyaki cook right infront of our eyes and after a short wait, it was ready to eat! It wasn't the best okonomiyaki that we have tried but it was cheap and a nice change from the cafe style food we had been eating.

Oh my goodness. If you are at the markets, please, please, please an absolute must is to buy one of the Almond Croissant from Sandy's Sourdough. It was amazing, the croissant was perfectly flakey, well buttered and had a very nice crunch to the bite! We haven't tasted a croissant with filling THIS good. It was so good, Matt went back for seconds and when we were at Launceston airport, we regretted not buying more. Honestly, add this to your must try list in Launceston. You can thank us later!

The gozleme was tasty but it wasn't what we had expected. The lamb and feta gozleme tasted like the El Paso taco mince you can buy from Coles or Woolies, actually we are pretty sure there was taco seasoning in the mix somewhere! It's not necessarily a bad thing either, Matt loves tacos so this was a delight for him, but when something isn't as described on the menu then it's not what we expect. We expected the feta to be a standout in this dish, but in reality we couldn't even taste the feta!

Freshness and quality are paramount at Ritual so it was an acquired taste. We weren't sure if it was the milk or the coffee but it surely tasted unique. I wouldn't recommend ordering the chai latte unfortunately, it was not good but perhaps, it's the supplier.

Christie thought paper bagged potatoes were cute and told me to take a picture of it. Oh how simple things like this can keep her amused...