Launceston (Tas) - Australia

Launceston in northern Tasmania is sited where the North and South Esk rivers meet to form the River Tamar, a navigable tidal estuary that meanders 40 miles (65 km) to the Bass Strait. Wealthy wheat and wool merchants once built their mansions to be close to the tree rhododendrons, fern glades and spacious lawns of the Victorian park at Cataract Gorge. In the heart of the city, visit the historic Waverley Woollen Mills where fabrics from fine Tasmanian merino wool are still produced. Admire the skill and subtlety of some of Tasmania's best wood craftspeople in the Wood Design Collection at the Design Centre of Tasmania, or visit the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, which holds a fine collection of colonial art. Other sights in Launceston include the maritime college, St. John's Church (1824) and Entally House (1820). A settlement called George Town was first established in 1804 at the mouth of the Tamar and Launceston followed further upstream in 1826. Nearby is the Tamar Valley and Tasmania's premier wine growing area. Launceston first developed as a whaling port and agricultural market centre and became a city in 1888.