Saturday, March 1, 2014

Exploring Launceston

Wednesday 26 February 2014 - Most members of the touring party spent Wednesday at the Launceston Cup but a small group of us decided to explore parts of Launceston instead.

The bus driver made a detour to drop us off near the start of Cascade Gorge before driving the rest of the Victorians to the race track.
Cataract Gorge is only a short work from the centre of Launceston.
Wednesday was a public holiday due to the running of the Launceston Cup so groups of school students were swimming in one section of the Gorge.
Looking towards the suspension bridge
We had a pleasant stroll to the gardens and restaurant where we sat outside for about an hour, relaxing, having a drink, talking and being entertained by numerous peacocks and their young who were wandering between the tables and on the nearby lawn. Four of us decided to continue the walk across the suspension bridge to the other side of the Gorge.
The path for the next stage of the walk was closed so we walked past the park and swimming pool to the carpark where we organised a taxi back to Launceston.
Launceston was very quiet because of the public holiday and most of the shops were closed, however the absence of people in the streets made them easier to explore. After lunch we walked several blocks through the main shopping area to City Park as one of the group had been there earlier in the week as she wanted to show us the monkeys.
Macaque monkeys from Japan live in the park entertaining the many people who stop to view them. The monkeys were a gift from the people of Ikelda in Japan - a sister city of Launceston. A number of wallabies were sent to Japan as part of the exchange.
Near the monkey enclosure is the John Hart Conservatory with a colourful selection of plants. The conservatory was built with money from the John Hart Bequest in 1932 and was refurbished in 2010.
After leaving the park we passed the vertical retort house built in 1932 as part of the former gas works now partly used as a Hogs Breath Cafe.
 Around the corner we found additional buildings belonging to the site including what would have been the administrative offices for Launceston Gas Company which started producing gas from coal around 1860. The vertical retort house and the gas tank can be seen in the background.
 Further along the street we passed the Customs House, a most impressive looking building built in 1885 and demonstrating the importance of Launceston as a port at that time.
We followed along the banks of the North Esk River and then across a park until we reached the Tamar River.
The building in the distance is the silos which are clearly visible from many vantage points over the city.
We then returned back to the motel via taxi.

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