As the second-largest city after Hobart, with around 104,000 inhabitants, LAUNCESTON is the natural rival to the capital. Like Hobart, it is sited on a waterway, the Tamar River, and has plenty of historic architecture along with a matching colonial history; it has even acquired similar art and food cultures, and locals argue that their city stands up to comparison with Hobart. In truth though, Tasmania’s “northern capital” remains an oversized provincial town. Not that that is such a terrible thing. A small scale means that nothing in the town – from the excellent gallery-museum and increasingly sophisticated restaurant and café scene to the rugged beauty of Cataract Gorge – is more than twenty minutes’ walk away. And the surrounding vineyards of the Tamar Valley or the ice-shattered summit of Ben Lomond National Park are well within an hour’s drive.