Launceston: self-guided architectural walk

Launceston is Tasmania’s second largest city with a population of close to 90,000 people. It’s the third oldest city in Australia after the Europeans set up camp around 1804. Wikipedia tells me it was the first place in the Southern Hemisphere to use anaesthetic and the first Australian city to have underground sewers. Impressive!  It also has a large collection of historical buildings and the lack of skyscrapers makes the streetscape very aesthetically pleasing. The absence of man-made canyons and being able to see the sky makes a real difference to the ambiance. There are no windy tunnels with overpowering towering concrete monsters blocking out the sun. Launceston has managed to keep its city relatively free from development and it celebrates its architectural integrity.

Near Brisbane Street mall

I enjoy self-guided architecture walks around cities and I thought that with all the significant buildings, there would be an app or website to do such a thing in Launceston. I could not find an “official” one but did find maps and descriptions put together for architecture students on Pocket Sites. It included both historic and modern buildings of architectural significance. There is a Part A and Part B which covers more than 50 sites. It includes buildings in the CBD with a short detour into a residential street. It took me about three hours to complete and I covered a bit more than 7 km. It was a very pleasant way of getting my 10,000 steps up!

Duncan House – Art Deco – 45 Brisbane Street

Be prepared for some interesting buildings. Not all of them would fit my description of being “significant”. I discovered that there is a style of building, common in the 1980s, called “brutalist”. In my opinion, these buildings are ugly monstrosities! They look cheap and nasty and brutal is an excellent description. 

Henry House 1983. Brutalist Style. Civic Square

ANZ Building: Brutalist style c1980. Cnr Brisbane and George Street

On the other hand, the Regency, Queen Anne(revival), Georgian and Colonial era buildings reflect a time of softer and more delicate facades. No doubt these were made possible due to the presence of cheaper labour, (convicts perhaps?) and materials. 

Terrace Houses in St John Street.

If you’re the type who likes this sort of urban adventure, get out early before all the city workers park their cars and spoil your photos! It’s free and you’ll also go past some nice cafes if you decide to take a break. There are easily accessible public toilets along the way. It’s my kind of touristing!

Details on the Town Hall – Civic Square

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