Saturday, March 16, 2013

Labour Day in Launceston

The Eight Hour Day in Launceston.
Although Labour Day is celebrated all over Australia, it was only Victoria and Tasmania that celebrated on March 11. The other states of Australia hold Labour Day at other times of the year which is a bit strange from a business point of view. I have business dealings with both Sydney and Brisbane. Both were unaware that we at the lower end of Australia were having a day of leisure to celebrate the introduction of the "eight hour working day".
8 hours for work and 8 hours for leisure was the idea behind the Labour Movement at the time. I'm not sure if this still applies these days - due to today's technology, we seem to work longer hours.

The reason I mention this is that we thought Launceston would be closed on Labour Day, and much of it was however there were still shops, cafes, museums and art galleries open to fill our last day here. Although our favourite cafe up on the hill was closed, we found another on the water's edge for breakfast.

Our favourite cafe on a day it was open. We must have had  breakfast, lunch and dinner here, we lost count. The Chef, Andrew cooked a small but wonderful menu.
Every day as we ventured back across the Esk River, an estuary to the Tamar, we crossed this iron bridge and as you crossed, if you look over your shoulder you saw the view below. 
I should remind you that the main city of Launceston is just as you cross this river.
Wilderness and city combined.

Breakfast on the water's edge.
It was our plan to enjoy a leisurely breakfast before moving off to explore what we thought would be a deserted Launceston CBD (central business district).

Looking out the window of the Cafe across the Tamar River.
That closed window was where we sat having breakfast.
A Stroll in the City
We thought with it being a holiday, we could walk the streets of the CBD and window shop, appreciate the architecture of Australia's third established city - at least we would be encouraged to spend on the day. We were wrong!
Despite it being the day to celebrate the introduction of the eight hour day in the mid 1880s, shops were open. We browsed book shops, shoe shops and even popped into a chemist. I guess staff didn't mind working and being paid penalty rates for the day.

Launceston has some amazing architecture which spans from Georgian to what we call Federation, a mixture of Art Nouveau and Edwardian. There are two story Victorian Terraces and in the same block you might find intriguing examples of Art Deco from the 30s. Launceston has it all from the early 1800s to now. I guess many Australian cities do,  but here, they are all in a more confined area.
Launceston has its Malls and this one, the Quadrant arcs its way through a city block. It has some wonderfully well preserved buildings - all you need to do is look above the modernised shop fronts to appreciate the various styles.
Although this Mall has a modern canopy, the buildings still reflect Launceston's historical past.
In the Park
Launceston has a number of parks and gardens that break up the bustle of the city. The main park is strangely called "City Park". We entered by the grand gates beside a lovely period building. On this day, the park was visited by young families. It was a very hot day, in the mid 30s and the park offered a refreshing environment from its greenness and large leafy trees.
The gates of City Park. The park was established in 1820.
This ornate fountain once was at the entrance gates of the park. Its original foundations can just be seen. It now is deep within the park.

Initially the park was developed by the Launceston Horticultural Society and then handed over to the City of Launceston in 1863 to become known as the people's park.
The John Hart Conservatory was established in the 30s and sits not far away from a duck pond. Further up the path to the opposite side is the Japanese Macaque Monkey enclosure. I didn't take any photos as they looked a little sad and besides, would you like for someone to take photos of you in your home?
Inside the Conservatory.

Then off to the Art Gallery
After our lunch of fish and chips on the Tamar River's edge we returned to the CBD to explore the art gallery. Before arriving in Launceston, we were unaware of the major art competition, The John Glover competition was on this very weekend. Several of the entrant's paintings were on exhibition at the Gallery, although not the winning painting. The John Glover Competition is for landscape. In Victoria we have the Archibald Prize for portrait.

Launceston's Art Gallery
A few of the paintings that took my eye.

Finishing off at the Museum
Attached to the Gallery by name, yet not actually attached, is the Launceston Museum. The two are connected in name as the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery Foundation. The Museum is across the Tamar river in the Inveresk Precinct. It sits within the preserved workshops of the Launceston Railways. Old photos of Launceston during the 40s show that the city had a system of tramways through its streets.
There were a few exhibitions that I really wanted to see - firstly any early history of Launceston, and also the sporting exhibition.

The Last Supper
It was our last night in Launceston and as it was Labour Day, not a lot of places to dine were open, especially our favourite Cafe Culture on the hill. The port restaurants seem to never close so it was pizza and wine with a view.
And this was our view over the Tamar River port and the hills of Trevallyn.
I realised that we didn't blog on food while we were away. Tasmania has some wonderful produce with its farming industry, great local wines especially the whites - Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and the lighter reds of Pinot Noir. We had some great beef and lamb, some duck but that's hard to beat while in France. The fish we had on the waterfront cafe was excellent. Strangely enough our last supper was pizza and a bottle of local Pinot Noir. It was a balmy night and the atmosphere looking up to the hills with the street and house lights illuminating suburban Launceston was a nice way to saying goodbye to a very comfortable city. I think we may return very soon.

Hope you enjoyed our little sojourn to Launceston.


  1. I loved the tour - many thanks! I'd love to see it myself one day. I like your taste in art - especially the middle one.

    1. Craig - I agree, the middle painting was my pick.

  2. Glad you enjoyed your holiday. We enjoyed the tour too - lovely photos and we especially liked the architecture, some really lovely buildings. Looks like a good place to think about for retirement!

    Carol & Michael

    1. Wish we had made time to show everyone the spectacular mountains and wilderness, Maybe next time. Tassie has a rich history of colonisation.
      I bet you are both looking forward to summer now.

  3. Great tour of somwhere I know nothing about [except that the island was named after a Dutch explorer].
    Really liked the varied facades of the buildings.

    1. N and A,
      Yes both the Dutch and French sailed to Tassie before the English - Bass and Flinders were supposedly the first to navigate around the Island. Although named after Abel Tasman, he actually named it Van Diemen's land after the Govenor of the Dutch East Indies. It took another century colonised it in 1803.

  4. Great holiday :)

    I wish we DID have the Archibald Prize in Victoria. Alas it was, and is the brainchild of the Art Gallery of NSW. But the John Glover competition for landscapes looks very interesting. I must have a good look at its history.

  5. Hels,
    I went to see the finalists at a winery out the back of Yarra Glen last year - was I duped????


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