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When you’re thinking about where you’re gonna go for your road trip or vacation, visions of the Gold Coast, Sydney or the Great Ocean Road probably spring to mind. Spare a thought though for the state of Tasmania, an island paradise that often gets forgotten thanks to its remote location. As the weather starts to warm up and summer holidays loom on the horizon, Tassie starts to look more and more appealing, thanks to its temperate weather. A car hire from Launceston Airport will set you up perfectly to explore the charms of northern Tasmania straight away, with the option to scoot down the coast to the south if you feel like expanding your travels to discover a bunch of the spots that make Tasmania a world class travel destination.
Enjoying Tassie to the fullest is mostly a matter of arranging your own transport. When you’re flying in to Launceston, that’s probably going to mean a Launceston car hire. It can take ages to sort through all the different rental providers one by one, but AirportRentals.com.au lets you see all the best car hire deals for Launceston in one place, so you can get your rental sorted in jiffy and go back to planning your epic trip.
Sorting out a cheap car hire from Launceston Airport is a straightforward affair with AirportRentals.com.au. Just chuck in a few basic details like pick up/drop off times and locations, hit Search and you’ll have a bunch of vehicles from a range of different rental brands to choose from. At that point, it’s as easy as scrolling through, maybe filtering a little to narrow down your options then selecting the best deal. From there, it’ll only take a few minutes to finish up the booking and move on to something else.
There’s plenty of selection when it comes car hire brands at Launceston Airport. Big names like Budget, Avis and Hertz are there of course, along with other suppliers like Red Ribbon and Keddy - these brands aren’t quite as well known, but are still worth looking into, as they can sometimes offer some stunner deals.
The Launceston Airport has just one terminal which received a massive facelift and expansion in 2009. This is now the second largest airport in Tasmania (behind Hobart). Jetstar has flights to Launceston from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane at least once a day, Virgin Australia has flights from Melbourne and Sydney, and QantasLink flies to Launceston from Melbourne as many as four times per day.
Driving in Launceston and around Tasmania isn’t that different to hitting the road just about anywhere else in Australia. Speed limits will almost always be signposted, but if there doesn’t seem to be any signs around, the default speed limits are 50 km/h in built up urban/suburban areas, 80 km/h on unsealed rural roads and 100 km/h on motorways and sealed country roads. If you’re not an Aussie, you should know straight up that we drive on the left hand side of the road in Australia. It’s not too hard to get your head around - take a bit of care at intersections and you’ll soon be away laughing. Just in case you have any other questions about driving in this fine country, take a quick glance over our Australia driving guide.
Launceston Airport is set about 15 kilometres south of the city centre but getting from one to the other isn’t hard at all. Just jump on Evandale Road (the main road running next to the airport) and go straight as the road becomes Midland Highway until you get to the Howick Street exit.
As noted above, the usual speed limit in Launceston is 50 km/h but it’s still worth keeping an eye out for speed signs in town as this can vary a little, up and down. The legal blood alcohol limit in Tasmania is under 0.05, which isn’t a lot at all, so strongly consider taking the passenger seat if you’ve had a drink or two. Plus, if you’re on a learner/provisional licence, the limit is a hard zero.
You won’t need to worry about fueling up directly after you pick up a car rental in Launceston as it’s standard for rental vehicles to come with a full tank. On the way back though, if you’re returning the vehicle to a rental depot around Launceston Airport, you’ll need to turn in the car with a topped up fuel tank. United Petroleum Breadalbane is the closest service station to the airport, just up the road on the corner of Evandale Road and Translink Avenue. There are a number of petrol stations in Launceston itself, but the closest of these is about 10 kilometres from Launceston Airport, so it’s best to opt for the Breadalbane station if you can.
Picking up a Launceston car hire sets you up for all sorts of adventures in the northeast of Tasmania - though there’s no need to limit yourself to one portion of the island. Tassie is relatively small (especially compared to the vast distances of the mainland) so no matter where you start, there are few parts of the island that are out of bounds.
For those keen to taste the good life in Tasmania, this is the way to go. Tamar Valley is renowned for its gourmet food offerings and fine wine. Whether you’d like to hop from cellar door to cellar door, sample boutique olive oils, chow down on truffles and abalone or roll it all together for the epicurean trip of a lifetime, Tamar Valley has you covered.
To get a feeling for the natural beauty that Tasmania can offer, head toward the east coast and picturesque fishing town of Saint Helens. This is the gateway to the Bay of Fires, which has been named by Lonely Planet as the hottest travel destination on earth. You can strike out on your own to explore this coastal paradise at your leisure, or join the ever popular Bay of Fires Walk for a glamping-style experience. From there, continue down the coast to Freycinet National Park (home to one of finest beaches in the word, Wineglass Bay) before turning back toward Launceston.
Tassie’s east coast is undeniably beautiful, but to sample some genuine Tasmanian wilderness, try heading west for Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Be prepared to don your hiking boots and get amongst the ancient flora and fauna of the region. This will suit veteran hikers down to a tee, but there’s also quite the selection of shorter walks that make their way through old-growth forest which are perfect for the more casual visitors. If you’re prepared for a decent walk, you could even head for the summit of Cradle Mountain itself - just make sure you’re prepared for bad weather and know that it’s a strenuous hike that will take around 6.5 hours.
This might not be the most fascinating info on the page but it might come in handy later, so don’t skip over it just yet. All the car hire suppliers around Launceston Airport are based in-terminal, so you won’t have to worry about shuttling off-airport to get to your depot. Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Redspot, Thrifty and Bargain all have their own rental desks at Launceston Airport, while Red Ribbon is serviced by Bargain, Keddy operates from the Europcar desk and Auto Europe will be with one of several of the brands above (check with your supplier to find out which one exactly, if you’re opting for Auto Europe).
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If you’re hunting for the ultimate in convenience, you can’t go far wrong staying near the airport. The Abel Tasman Airport Motor Inn isn’t exactly fancy, but when it comes to cheap, convenient accommodation in Launceston you can’t do much better. It’s set in Youngtown, just 8 minutes from Launceston Airport. For a little extra character, consider Olde Tudor Hotel, 10 kilometres from the airport on Westbury Road. If you’re after something a little more swish, Country Club Tasmania might be the way to go. Set in the midst of 300 acres of parkland and lakes, this will really put you in the mindset to enjoy nearby attractions like the Tamar Valley, and is one of the best deluxe accommodation options in Tasmania.
As we’ve seen above, Launceston can be a springboard for all kinds of adventures, but before you fill up your itinerary, you should know that there’s quite a bit to do in Launceston itself, especially if you’re in town during one of the town’s annual events. Junction Arts Festival comes to the city every spring for 5 days of interactive performances, public installations, shows and free family fun. The city really comes alive during the Junction Arts Fest, so if you can plan your trip around the first weeks of September, you’re in for a real treat.
The Tasmanian Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival (known as BOFA) is a cinema event that suits even those who don’t think they’re the film fest type. It’s a pretty low-key, intimate affair that leaves behind the snobbery that can taint the bigger fests. No matter what your interests or cinematic tastes, you’re likely to find something here to grab your attention: Foodie BOFA, Doco BOFA, Retro BOFA, Family BOFA… these are just a handful of the genres on offer, so all you have to ask yourself is: what’s your BOFA?
If you’ve got a bit of a green thumb, you won’t want to miss out on the Blooming Tasmania Flower and Garden Show. Albert Hall blossoms to life with floral displays, workshops, music and art - all kinds of different exhibitions will showcase different aspects of what plants, gardens and botanical cultivation means in Tasmania.
Launceston itself isn’t particularly well known for its food scene - its status as a smaller city means that you’ll never find quite the level of culinary variety available in places like Melbourne or Sydney, but that doesn’t mean that Launceston’s restaurant scene is dead - far from it. Larceny Restaurant is one of the city’s most well loved establishments, serving up top notch cuisine in a modern European style. The quality of Larceny’s cooking has landed the restaurant with multiple awards and is a great choice if you’re prepared to pay a bit for excellent food. Cataract on Paterson is another solid option - their modern Australian menu has garnered positive critical attention and plenty of positive reviews. Those who are hunting for more of an Eastern flavour should look into Dynasty Chinese Restaurant, an upscale venue equally suited to a casual lunch or a nice dinner.
When it comes to wine of course, Launceston really shines. That is to say, the Tamar Valley does, and Launceston’s the best place to start the journey. In contrast to the Shiraz that is so common on the mainland, Tamar Valley excels at cool climate wines like Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Make sure you figure out who designated driver will be (or join a tour to have someone else drive you around the region) because you’ll definitely want to savour a wide sample of the delicious vintages that Tamar has to offer.
Launceston is one of Australia’s few inland cities, sitting at the head of the River Tamar. The Tamar Valley stretches roughly north from Launceston to Bass Strait, while to the southwest are three conservation areas peppered with lakes. Tasmanian bush and Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park are off to the west, and a couple hours to the east are the beaches of the Bay of Fires.
While most of the residents of Launceston have western European ancestry (English, Irish and Scottish among the most common) there is a significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander minority in the city, and more than 5 percent of Launceston’s residents speak a language other than English at home.
Adjusting your itinerary around Launceston’s events isn’t always possible, but that’s okay: there’s plenty to do in this city all year round.
Hands down one the most popular attractions around Launceston is Cataract Gorge. Just 15 minutes or so from the CBD, this sheltered sanctuary combines natural and man-made wonders to provide a unique getaway from urban life. Gardens, walking and hiking trails and the world’s longest single span chairlift are a few of the highlights of the Gorge. The chairlift takes visitors high above the basin for a leisurely, scenic experience that even the least adventurous soul can enjoy.
If you head west of Launceston for half an hour, you’ll come across one of the country’s most unique zoos. Tasmania Zoo is a private, family run establishment that puts a strong focus on conservation and boasts one of the biggest collection of primates in any private Aussie zoo - it’s also the only place in Australasia where you can get a glimpse of the beautifully distinctive Celebes Crested Macaque. And of course if you’ve come to see Tassie’s signature animal, you won’t be disappointed: make sure you’re at the Tasmanian Devil enclosure for an insight into the ferocity of these creatures.
Those looking for a little serenity should head to City Park. Set right in the heart of Launceston, this is a place that’s been lovingly crafted with relaxation in mind. That’s not to say it’s boring though. There’s a BBQ area, giant chessboard and playground for families, plus a Japanese Macaque monkey enclosure which was gifted to Launceston by its sister city Ikeda in Japan.
To get an insight into the history of Tasmania, take a visit to Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG). Originally opened in the 19th century to display art and mineral specimens, today it houses history and natural science collections, as well as ten art galleries, the ArtSparks! Family Art Space and the Guan Di Temple.
Travelling around Tassie, you’re far better off having your own vehicle but every now and again it might be easier for you to take advantage of public transport to get around Launceston itself. Metro Tasmania operates buses around Launceston (and most other major Tasmanian centres) so the option is there if you need it - though with a car rental from Launceston Airport, your transport issues should be sorted.
Launceston is generally coolish year round, with very distinct seasons. In winter the temperature can drop toward freezing, while in summer the thermometer usually peaks around 24 degrees. It’s no tropical paradise, but this climate actually offers a welcome escape from the sweltering summer heat of Australia’s more northerly cities.
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