About Launceston, Tasmania



Launceston is one of the oldest settlements in Australia, pre-dating all the capital cities of mainland Australia except Sydney. The establishment of a British settlement on the Tamar River took place in 1804 when Lieutenant-Colonel William Paterson took formal possession of the land on 11th November 1804, naming the settlement at the mouth of the river Georgetown. After a brief sojourn on the east bank of the Tamar River at York Town, the majority of the settlers moved in 1806 to Launceston.

From 1811, the government officially recognised Georgetown as the settlement though the locals had a different idea as to where it should be and argued that it should be Launceston. In 1824, the settlers finally had their way when Launceston, which had been named for the Cornish birthplace of Governor King, was officially proclaimed the main centre of the north.

The settlement grew rapidly, agriculture flourished and Launceston became an import base for whalers operating in the Southern Ocean. In the 1970s rich strikes of gold and tin were made in the Tasmanian mountains and Launceston became the chief service town for the mines. Launceston was proclaimed a city in 1888. In more recent years, secondary industry has become important in the local economy with the establishment of heavy engineering and has become one of Australia's busiest river ports.

Though it has many fine Georgian buildings from the colonial era, the city's architecture is otherwise without distinction. Its parks and private gardens, however, are ranked among the best in Australia. European trees, particularly oaks and elms, and flowering shrubs flourish in the mild, moist climate.

The South Esk River cuts a deep canyon through the hills near its juncti with the native flora. The South Esk is crossed here by a suspension bridge which leads to a picnic area, an Olympic swimming pool on with the Tamar, known as Cataract Gorge. Its rapids are particularly spectacular after heavy rains have fallen in the central highlands. A pathway on the north side of the gorge leads to Cataract Cliff Grounds Park, where European shrubs and trees have been establishedand a children's wading pool. A chair lift also crosses the gorge.

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