The question would probably better if we asked, 'What is a Launceston Up Close Walking Tour?'
Our walking tours are of the 'heritage' kind. We refer to them as Heritage Walking Tours because we reflect heavily on the history of the sites around our route. Launceston was a colonial town, being the third oldest settlement in Australia, our city is barely younger than Hobart, and less than 20 years younger than Sydney. We are proud of our colonial heritage and most residents of Launceston are proud of their convict ancestors.
This was not always the case. As late as the 1950s, descendants of transported convicts were not held in particularly high regard. But the tide turned as the lines between free settlers and convicts became blurred and being a convict's great great grand son or daughter was not so bad. And why not? Many convicts were convicted and transported for what today would be considered misdemeanours. Stealing a loaf of bread, or a pair of shoes in depressed 19th Century England got you sent away, exiled to Sydney or Van Dieman's Land for life. And if you were Irish, you were doubly likely to be transported. Most convicts that were generally good people survived the hell of a sailing ship and being virtually slave labour after they arrived. They worked to earn their freedom to become notable citizens of this great little island, and establish a solid core from which the State of Tasmania emerged.
Those that were less than sociable most often absconded from their labour, became bushrangers and preyed on the free people of Tassie. And more often than not, most ended their days swinging from the end of a rope, their last view of life being the beautiful view downstream of the Tamar River. The gallows were in the prison on Paterson Street where the Queen Victoria Art gallery now stands.
So why walk? Why not use a mini bus or a big bus?
Quite simply, a bus would be a waste of money. Everything within the CBD in Launceston is within a relatively small area. If we used a bus, we would first have to find parking for a bus, and there is not a lot of tour bus parking in Launceston. But if we did, we would do our tour, walking around the streets of inner 'Lonnie', and end up back at the bus, and it would not get any use. But the costs associated with using a bus - fuel, registration, insurance, cleaning etc etc - would all be passed down to the tourist. Why not simply not have a bus and reduce the price of a ticket on our tour substantially.
It was suggested we could use the bus to go around picking up tourists from their hotels, which is common practise for operators do tours out of town, where a bus would be very appropriate. But since most of Launceston's hotels are in the area bounded by the tour route, why not simply arrange to meet at a point not so far from the hotels?
And that's how Launceston Up Close works. Our tours start and finish in town. The morning tour starts at Prince's Park, which is only 2 blocks from Brisbane Street Mall and finishes even closer to Brisbane Mall. And the afternoon tour starts one block away from where the morning tour ends, right outside the Launceston Visitor Information Centre. Which is great if you need more tourist info, and even greater if you or any of our morning guests is on a roll, and decides to join the afternoon tour ;)
Our afternoon tour ends where it started, near the visitor info centre, which is near the post office, which is near the middle of town. We definitely don't need a bus :)
If you would like any more info about our tours - ticket prices, discounts that are available, our routes, anything at all, call us - 0414749626 - or drop us an email using the contact form below, or at [email protected] , we would love to hear from you.