🇦🇺 Launceston is a city in the north of Tasmania, Australia, at the junction of the North Esk and South Esk rivers where they become the Tamar River (kanamaluka). Launceston is the most liveable regional city, and was one of the most popular regional cities to move to in Australia from 2020-21. Settled by Europeans in March 1806, Launceston is one of Australia's oldest cities and it has many historic buildings. Like many places in Australia, it was named after a town in the United Kingdom – in this case, Launceston, Cornwall. Launceston also had the first use of anaesthetic in the Southern Hemisphere, it was the first Australian city to have underground sewers, and it was the first Australian city to be lit by hydroelectricity. The city has a maritime climate with four distinct seasons and is appreciably warmer than the south of the island during summer. Local government is split between the City of Launceston and the Meander Valley and West Tamar Councils.
Economy Along with being a major retail centre with an average of 75% of market share in surrounding local councils, Launceston is a major service centre for the north of Tasmania. The city is home to a campus of the University of Tasmania including the Australian Maritime College and also has a minor minerals and manufacturing base.
Launceston is a major hub for the regional agricultural and pastoral activities. Historically, this has been connected with the growing of apples – in recent years the stress has moved to viticulture. Superfine wool remains an important part of the rural economy of north-east Tasmania and wool sales in Launceston attract many international buyers. The various agricultural industries in the district are supported by the Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research which operates the Mount Pleasant Research Laboratories in the Launceston suburb of Prospect.
Tourism Launceston serves as the commercial hub for the north of Tasmania, and like many parts of the state, is becoming a major tourist centre. Visitors to the city have grown over the past few years: during 2004 Launceston attracted 412,800 visitors, up 51% from 2001. The United Kingdom is the origin of 25% of all international visitors to the city and 17% originate from the United States. The Cataract Gorge is Launceston's largest tourist attraction and is in close proximity to the city centre. It is home to the longest single span chairlift in the world, stretching 308 metres (1,010 ft) across the gorge. Launceston has many parks throughout the city including City Park, located next to the city centre. City Park is home to Albert Hall. The park also has a large enclosure for Japanese macaque monkeys, a gift from sister city Ikeda, Japan. The Launceston General Post Office dates back to the 1880s, with a clock tower added in the early twentieth century. The GPO clock chime chimes every quarter-hour. Tasmania Zoo, which is known for its wildlife conservation work, including a breeding program for Tasmanian devils, is located near the city.