A visit to Launceston City Park is a highlight during any trip to the capital of the northern Tasmanian Tamar Valley region. There’s the usual things that you would expect during a stroll through the park: manicured flower beds, paths winding through mature trees and garden structures like a gazebo. And then there are a few surprises!!
It’s not every day that you stumble across a monkey enclosure in a city park, but that’s what happened to us in Launceston. We started a brisk morning walk after leaving our bed and breakfast accommodation, enjoying the military monuments and the shade of the well-established trees, dating back to the mid-1800’s.
Our quick walk ended in an hour’s gazing at the fabulous Japanese macaques – yes, monkeys! Their enclosure allows you to get quite close to the animals, who were busy washing their carrots in the water and diving in for a swim.
They tended to each others fur (as monkey’s do!) and seemed blissfully unconcerned by the spectators.
Apparently these monkeys are suited to living in the Launceston City Park, as Japanese macaques can handle the variety of temperatures prevalent in Tasmania. I guess the time they spend swimming in the water regulates their body heat.
You can see the Launceston monkeys between 8:00am and 4:00pm each day.
So, it’s difficult to top the surprise of the monkey enclosure, but there are other reasons to visit Launceston City Park. The John Hart Conservatory is open from about 9:00am to 4:30pm (and longer hours during summer). Apart from being a lovely art-deco building surrounded by changing displays of annuals, there’s the horticultural displays inside for the gardening enthusiast. Oh, and it makes a very nice back-drop for photography portraits!
We enjoyed one more huge surprise – but unlike the Launceston monkeys’ show, it doesn’t happen every day. We were in town researching another Think Tasmania article, and happened to be staying across the road from the Launceston City Park. As darkness fell over the city… the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra fired up!! How cool is that? For opera novices like us, they performed some very popular and family-friendly tunes.
Hundreds of “happy campers” laid their blankets on the park’s lawns, enjoyed an evening picnic and the very impressive stage show. Although this was a very special treat, you can enjoy other music at other times.
The council initiative, Music in the Park provides free performances in the stunning surrounds throughout the remainder of the year. Details can be found at the Launceston City Park website page, along with other general information about the gardens.
The Launceston City Park is also home to Festivale – “a celebration of quality Tasmanian food, wine and beer, arts and entertainment“. The next Festivale is scheduled for February 11-13, 2011. We have it marked in the Think Tasmania diary already!! And we will definitely pay another visit to the adorable Launceston monkeys…
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