What I like so much about Launceston - Part 2

April 28, 2015 | 4 Comments

Ok, lets try again to tell you why I like Launceston so much… basically I like how compact it is, the variety of subject matter to be found there, the rich Victorian architecture which is still in abundance and how easy I found it to sketch there. It is a great location from which to explore other areas of Tasmania – most people pass through Lonnie (as the local’s call it) but miss out on what it has to offer.

What I found interesting about my second sketching visit to the city, is that I started to try to piece it together. Rather than just visit the points of interest, I was more interested in understanding the place.

The CBD (central business district – the downtown) is located at the intersection of 3 rivers. There is a strong grid that lays out the city but no definite axis – this makes the city a little confusing but also more fun! Lots of quirks! There is a strong industrial zone (my favourite part) that is very accessible from the shopping area – one block and suddenly you are out of retail/ commerical areas and into industry. And the call of the wilderness is not far away – the mouth of the Gorge is just nearby.

This rough diagram helped me put the pieces together – it is not an accurate map as I am missing many streets and some things don’t align like they should – but it records all the major elements and how they connect. Drawings like this, make your travel sketchbook very interesting – even it is a not perfect map (like this one) it records your experience of the place so much more than a single sketch ever can.

Anyway, I can feel myself get distracted again… so without any more ramblings…. here is a guided tour to some things that I love about Launceston.  I hope we will sketch some of these together during my upcoming Travel Sketching workshop in Ooctober.

Note: Sketches are from my recent trip (Feb 2015) and also last year’s visit in June 2014.

So have I mentioned that I love the architecture of the place??? Whether it is sketched more carefully or a very quick gestural attempt – here it is the Launceston Town Hall.

I also mentioned in my previous post there are a lot of great churches. My favourite by far is Chalmers Church. Its design is amazing but what is really special is its crumbling decaying state due to a disaster paint job in the 1970s and the fact that it has be unused for a number of years. Two loose sketches done last year and this recent trip.

Between my two visits it has been renovated and occupied by a Design Company – but the exterior paint was left the same. This sketch with the vines growing all over is now historic as they have been removed (or at last reduced significantly).

The building is also special because it was originally a Free Church of Scotland church – my background! The name Chalmers has great associations for me being a reformed ‘Scottish Presbyterian’ (of course I am Australian but my church links to Scotland are very strong!)

For me, Chalmers Church is the SOH of Launceston – the signature building that I come back to over and over again! (SOH = Sydney Opera House)

Great buildings in the shopping areas… grand corner buildings in different styles. Historic shopping arcades too – I am still to draw them!

There are a number of glorious Victorian terrace buildings – such as these on Cameron St.

I love all the historic buildings in the industrial precinct – gorgeous colonial buildings in white/cream and simple forms in brickwork. Flour mills, gasworks, brewerys etc all with varied but strong volumes. They are fun to draw and the streets wide and quiet – very comfortable to sit and sketch.

I love the changes in scale – small colonial buildings contrast with very tall buildings in the industrial precinct.

There is a wonderful museum (QVMAG Inveresk) in old train sheds that really tell the story of the industry of the place – explaining what an important port it was. There is a great blacksmith workshop too – something to sketch next visit.

Great food – restaurants and cafes with lots of top quality local produce. (more about this in a future blog post!)

At last but not least, the wilderness which is what Tasmania is most known for, comes right into the city. Whilst obviously not as dramatic as Cradle Mountain  etc, I love the way the gorge area is just right there….within walking distance from the centre of town.

And there is also the things I haven’t sketched yet – at the Gorge, the river, the parks,  the gorgeous houses and some more cityscape views….

I could go on but I hope you get the picture!


Subscribe to my mailing list for my monthly newsletters including first notification of my new SketchingNow Online Sketching Courses and face-to-face workshops.


  • Sonya Batten says:

    Looks like a lovely place to visit. We honeymooned in Tassie over 15 years ago now, but we must have been one of those who missed it, although that bridge does look very familiar…. Hopefully one day we will get back.

  • That last green page is just breathtaking, Liz! And the skies and architecture in the other pages…oh my! Gorgeous!

  • Liz Steel says:

    how nice to be in Tassie for your honeymoon. the bridge is probably the most recognizable image of Lonnie!

  • Liz Steel says:

    thanks Sherry – fun about the last image, I was a bit disappointed at the time… but you can never judge a sketch till afterwards!

Leave a Reply