Architectural Charm In “Lonny”: Launceston, Tasmania

Launceston, or “Lonny” (maybe even “Launy”) as it’s known to the locals is actually Tasmania’s second biggest city. I’ve spent a bit of time there in my four months in Tasmania this far. I worked nearby at a few different farms in Cressy, Poatina, Longford and Bishopsbourne. I’ve grown to like Launceston. It’s a nice city. Nothing spectacular, but it has a charm of its own.
You could be referring to Launceston in Cornwall, England. But then Australian place names all seem to be taken from either British or Aboriginal (Melbourne, Liverpool and Sheffield are British examples. Parramatta, Dubbo and Tiawarra are Aboriginal examples). The English town is pronounced “lonzdin”, but here you shall pronounce it as you see it Launceston.
It’s the only city on the island not to have a beach or any part of it on the coastline. It’s Tasmania’s inland city. However, it has the massive Tamar River flowing out of it, and it also has the uniqueness of Cataract Gorge Nature Reserve, almost slap bang in the city centre. I’ll cover Cataract Gorge separately, now it’s time to talk about “Lonny.”
The city has all the usual stuff you expect. Shops, offices, pubs and parks. The main streets are busy during daylight. Hence the confusing one way system which I’ve got lost in quite a few times.
There are three parks in the city centre. City Park at Brisbane Street and both Royal Park and King’s Park overlook the Tamar River. At the place called Home Point, on this river you can watch the local rugby team play, and you can also get a boat cruise all the way to the wonderful Cataract Gorge.
The city has a free bus service – handy for tourists and commuters. The brainchild of the local council to cut back on road congestion. Workers can park at a car park nearby and use the shuttle bus. While the bus is totally free, car parking will cost you in Lonny. I was lucky enough to find free parking (or just use Woolworths or Coles Car park). But what you can do is pay $30 a month for a car park at Inveresk, by York Park. From there you can use the free bus to and from work.
My favourite thing about Launceston is without doubt the diverse style of buildings in the city centre. An architectural jungle this. With many fascinating buildings. None of them quite similar, and not sure what genre or era they fit in. I had a Berlitz Guide Book to Australia (admittedly not the best guide book, Lonely Planet is much better, but this guide book was cheap and fits in yer pocket) and in it was a photo of an old building in Lonny. With the caption “Victorian Buildings in Launceston.”
On my first few visits round the city I looked for that specific building, as I liked the looked of it and wanted to see it for real. I couldn’t find it anywhere. So I went with the book to the Tourist Information Centre and asked them if they knew where that building was. And of course they did. It was pretty close by. Here are some photos and comments on buildings and architecture in Lonny, including where else in the world I could place the buildings I seen. This is a special post…
1. COMMONWEALTH BANK AND “LONNIES” NEWSAGENTS. Typical London style buildings.
2. ST. ANDREWS PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. It’s the church I attend. But yet it looks like it belongs in Germany, Luxembourg or even Hungary.
3. BENDIGO BANK. Could easily have been a hotel in Austria.
4. GOVERNMENT BUILDING. Definitely in the south of England somewhere. Pretty pink and yellow coloured.
5. LAUNCESTON POST OFFICE. I liked it. The clock tower tilts slightly. I thought of Belfast and the Albert Clock.
6. VICTORIAN BUILDINGS IN LAUNCESTON. (this the one from my book, yet I took that photo on a dark, drab day). Pay for parking meters appear in my photo. They weren’t in the photo in my book. The age of the consumer has triumphed over this building. They could be in Bournemouth, actually. For the record the building was actually the Community Corrections part of the Department of Justice, and was number 111 Cameron Street.
7. MACQUARIE HOUSE. Vintage Agatha Christie era murder takes place here. You can imagine it…
8. THE WORLD by MIREK MARIK. Wonderful work of art depicting the world. With Tasmania and Australia at the core. The sculpture was excellent, despite omitting Northern Ireland and the entire UK!
9. TASMANIAN TABLEAU. Tigers on rocks and crows. This sits in front of the library adding a modern spice to Lonny’s old fashioned streets.
10. THE TOWN HALL. Buckingham Palace, The Whitehouse and Stormont all in one.
11. THE PRICKLY CACTUS Mexican Restaurant. Somewhere in Spain or Mexico. It don;t belong on this street corner in Lonny.
12. THE NATIONAL THEATRE. OK, I’ll give them that. It belongs in Lonny.
13. THE BRISBANE HOTEL. Stolen from a seafront arcade in Brighton, Margate or Southend. The English get everywhere you know.
14. THE BRISBANE ARCADE. The backstreets of Kuala Lumpur. A market is a market.
15. MAC SHOP. Yes, I can get a new battery for my Apple MacBook here! Now that was a pleasing building.
So really Launceston is all about nice buildings. All very different. Most tourists wouldn’t even notice them. Most locals don’t care. I forgot to mention the wonderful array of cafes, restaurants and bars along the major shopping streets. A very bad looking Irish Pub called “Irish Murphys” is probably the only thing I’d get rid of in Lonny. Yes, they can keep the charges for parking.
See you in the next lifetime, Launceston…
What Is It? – Lonny or Launceston, capital of the Tamar Region and second biggest city in Tasmania
Population – 71,000
Sightseeing – Cataract Gorge, Tamar River Cruises, Buildings, Dining and Shopping. 
Transport Used – My Car, The Free Bus
Where You Can Stay – Launceston Backpackers, Batman Fawkner Inn. (I slept in my car at Lonny)
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5 thoughts on “Architectural Charm In “Lonny”: Launceston, Tasmania

  • Actually I thought you managed somehow, in the nicest possible way to do a put down of Launceston it does not deserve. No mention of the Utas complex in Inveresk, a university campus as special as one could imagine anywhere how anybody could attempt to convey Launceston with no mention of the Gorge and the the Basin is completely beyond me.

  • Merlene thanks for your comments. Much appreciated, and Steve Mars also. However Steve Mars some of what you say is wrong – as a lot of internet bloggers are (myself included). This is merely a post on “ARCHITECTURAL” charm in Launceston, if you want to read about my trip to the Gorge its here: covered SEPARATELY. The post you commented on mentions only those architectural buildings from the city centre of Lonny on one of my few visits there. I have no intention of seeing a University no matter how special it is. Its not my thing. I havent tried to “convey Launceston” with no mention of the gorge as the gorge and basin is covered separately not just on that link but on some of my other entries. This is merely a post of the variety and beauty of city central buildings.

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