Launceston (often mispronounced ) is a city in the north of Tasmania, Australia at the junction of the North Esk and South Esk rivers where they become the Tamar River. Launceston is the second largest city in Tasmania after Hobart. With a population (greater urban and statistical sub division) of 106,153, Launceston is the ninth largest non-capital city in Australia. It is the only inland city in Tasmania.
Settled by Europeans in March 1806, Launceston is one of Australia's oldest cities and is home to many historic buildings. Like many Australian places, it was named after a town in the United Kingdom – in this case, Launceston, Cornwall. Launceston has also been home to several firsts such as the first use of anaesthetic in the Southern Hemisphere, the first Australian city to have underground sewers and the first Australian city to be lit by hydroelectricity. The city has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Local government is split between the City of Launceston and the Meander Valley and West Tamar Councils.
The first inhabitants of the area of Launceston were largely nomadic Tasmanian Aborigines believed to have been part of the North Midlands Tribe.
The first white visitors did not arrive until 1798, when George Bass and Matthew Flinders were sent to explore the possibility that there was a strait between Australia and Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania). They originally landed in Port Dalrymple (the mouth of the Tamar River), to the north-west of Launceston.
The first significant colonial settlement in the region dates from 1804, when the commandant of the British garrison Lt. Col. William Paterson, and his men set up a camp on the current site of George Town. A few weeks later, the settlement was moved across the river to York Town, and a year later was moved to its definitive position where Launceston stands.
Initially the settlement was called Patersonia; however, Paterson later changed the name to Launceston in honour of the New South Wales Governor Captain Philip Gidley King, who was born in Launceston, Cornwall. The name still survives in the tiny hamlet of Patersonia north-west of Launceston. Paterson himself also served as Lieutenant-Governor of northern Van Diemen's Land from 1804 to 1808.
By 1827, Launceston's population had climbed to 2,000 and the town had become an export centre, mainly for the colony's northern pastoral industry. Small hotels and breweries began to emerge in the 1820s, before larger, more "substantial" hotels were built in the 1830s. Sporting groups, political groups, churches and schools were often established in these hotels; however, they also hosted plays, musical soirees and readings, until theatres were built.
Walter George Arthur, who petitioned Queen Victoria in 1847 while interned with other Tasmanian Aborigines on Flinders Island, lived for several years in Launceston as one of numerous homeless children, before being taken into custody by George Augustus Robinson who sent him to the Boy's Orphan School in Hobart in 1832.
Newer popular team sports such as cricket and football failed to be sustained in Launceston before the population grew substantially. The sports were initially middle class recreations, as the working class found it difficult to participate after a six-day working week. Nevertheless, a "demand for facilities" lead to the upgrade of the Northern Tasmanian Cricket Association Ground (NTCA Ground) amongst other sporting facilities in the 1860s. Not long beforehand, Tasmania played Victoria in Australia's first first-class cricket match at the NTCA Ground in 1851.
Tin was discovered at Mount Bischoff in 1871 in north-western Tasmania, starting a minerals boom. Gold mining commenced approximately away in Beaconsfield in 1877. During the following two decades Launceston grew from a small town into an urban centre. In 1889, Launceston was the second town in Tasmania to be declared a city, after state capital Hobart.