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Short Launceston History:
Launceston was founded in 1805. It was called Patersonia for a short time after Lieutenant Colonel Paterson, the founder and first commandant, but he changed it to Launceston in honour of Governor King whose birthplace was the Cornish township of Launceston. Thus commenced a long association of the new Launceston with the ancient English township.
The history of Launceston and the Tamar Valley dates back to 1798 when Bass and Flinders were sent to explore the possibility that there existed a strait between the great continent and Van Diemen's Land. They named their landing place Port Dalrymple. Settlement of the area began in 1804 when Lt. Col. William Paterson and his party set up camp where George Town now stands and formally took possession of Port Dalrymple. A few weeks later, the settlement was moved across the river to York Town, and a year later they finally settled in Launceston.
Launceston is known as Tasmania's Living Heritage, because of its well-preserved links with its long and rich history. The city is graced with magnificent Victorian streetscapes and its lovingly maintained historic architecture makes it a focal point. The National Trust property Franklin House at Franklin Village is a charming Georgian house built in 1838, displaying fine antique furniture and outstanding interior woodwork.
Much of the city's heritage is displayed in long established and classically beautiful public and private parks and gardens. The most famous of these are the Cliff Grounds in the Cataract Gorge Reserve, the City Park with its excellent John Hart Conservatory and fascinating Monkey Island, Prince's Square established from a brickfield in the 1850's and featuring a bronze fountain purchased from the Paris Exhibition, and Punchbowl Reserve with its colourful rhododendron display, duck pond, spacious lawns and barbecue facilities.
The Heritage Forest at Invermay is a remarkable transformation of Launceston's tip at the Mowbray Swamp, which a land program has transformed into a major recreation and living environment with tracks for walking, horse and bike riding, exercise stations, picnic area and an environment trail.
The Waverley Woollen Mill is Australia's oldest woollen mill, founded in 1874 and still operating from the original site, producing some of Australia's finest woollen goods. The mill and the mill owner's home were among the first buildings in Tasmania to be lit by electricity on July 5, 1889. Tamar Knitting Mills, founded in 1926, produce a large range of pure wool garments and conduct daily tours of their factory.
Launceston boasts many other fine art galleries, craft shops and antique stores throughout the city. The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, situated in a heritage building, tells the story of Tasmania's wildlife, including the famed Tasmanian Tiger. It also shows our mineral wealth, and has an enviable collection of colonial paintings and changing contemporary art exhibitions. The Launceston Planetarium in the museum is one of only four in Australia and each ½ hour show provides an entertaining and educational journey to the stars.
Macquarie House (1830) in the Civic Square is a Georgian building from where the Batman and Fawkner expeditions to establish Melbourne were supplied.