Spend some time exploring the heritage town of Longford and immerse yourself in the charming English atmosphere. There’s plenty to do, from wandering the Georgian village, stepping back in time at grand convict-built estates, admiring beautiful gardens, relaxing by the river, and tracing the town’s racing past.
Longford is under half an hour’s drive south-west from Launceston, and makes a wonderful day trip or weekend getaway. We’ve listed 12 of our favourite things to do.
1. A self-guided walking tour
Much of Longford was built by convicts in the early 19th century. The original Georgian architecture has held up well, with historic homes and impressive colonial estates creating a charming atmosphere. Pick up a map from the local Visitor Information Centre (in JJ’s Bakery) and embark upon a self-guided walk, discovering interesting stories about the architecture and colourful local characters as you stroll.
2. Go shopping
Today, many original buildings are open to the public as shops, galleries, and eateries. See what treasures you can find in the antique and gift shops, and browse the amazing art at the local galleries, including Blenheim Gallery & Garden. The Longford RSL Market is held on the last Saturday of the month, with stalls offering an eclectic mix of produce, gifts, crafts, and second hand goods.
3. Eat & drink
Exploring is sure to work up an appetite! A few of our favourite’s include: JJ’s Bakery, Banjo’s Bakery Cafe, Sticky Beaks Pizza & Cafe, Longford Pizza House, Woolmers Servant’s Kitchen, Chinese Big Wok, and Jo’s #1 Takeaway. Enjoy a top quality pub grub at the Blenheim Inn Hotel and the Chequered Flag Bistro.
Treat yourself to a fine dining experience at The Happy Chef. Spend a relaxing afternoon tasting the local plonk at Valleyfield Vineyard, the home of Bell & Gong.
4. Visit Christ Church
Christ Church is one of Australia’s oldest church and burial grounds, and was built in 1839 in the Old Colonial Gothic Picturesque style. Woolmers‘ William Archer designed the stained glass windows. The churchyard still has the original lychgate. The arboretum was planted in the 1830s by Dr Appleyard, who dreamed of growing every tree in the bible.
Christ Church is open to the public on weekdays between 10am to 12pm, from October to March. The Longford Jazz Club perform regularly at the Parish Hall, and there is an art group who meet on the first Saturday of each month.
5. Hear Voices from the Graves
The cemetery at Christ Church is the final resting place of many early settlers. It’s fascinating to read the old headstones and imagine what life would have been like for the people buried there. To learn more about the area’s colonial history, pick up a copy of Voices from the Graves and ‘hear’ moving stories from two people resting in this graveyard.
6. Visit Brickendon & Woolmers
Longford and surrounds have a strong agricultural heritage. A visit to Brickendon and Woolmers Estates offers a glimpse back in time to the 19th century pioneering days, when the early farming families used convict labour to build their farms, as well as tributes to their English heritage. Together, Brickendon and Woolmers make up one of Australia’s UNESCO World Heritage Convict Sites. They are so special to visit, with grand architecture, amazing artefacts, and fascinating stories.
7. Celebrate spring in the garden
The Longford locals love their gardens and spring is an enchanting time to visit, with a bunch of events on celebrating the season. Enjoy the festivities at the beloved Woolmers Festival of Roses, explore secret gardens during the Longford Blooms Open Gardens, and admire the beauties at the Longford Garden Club Spring Flower Show.
8. Have fun at the river
Head to the river for some outdoor fun. Try your luck fishing for the South Esk River’s wild trout, head out in the kayak, go for a stroll, or relax on the riverbank with a picnic. The picturesque scenery is also popular among photographers.
9. Retrace the Grand Prix route
This peaceful village once attracted speed demons from all around (including Sir Jack Brabham, Bob Jane, and Jackie Stewart). Between 1953 and 1968, the streets of Longford became the fastest motor racing circuit in the Southern Hemisphere. Sections of the 7.2km track remain, including ‘The Flying Mile’, where speeds of 288km/hr were reached (please stick to the speed limit today)!
Race into the Visitor Information Centre, grab a map, and find out where the track was. There’s also some interesting racing memorabilia at the hotel.
10. Speed around the Longford Velodrome
If you’ve got a taste for speed, take a spin around the Longford Velodrome (on two wheels). The state of the art cycling track in Archer Street was revamped a few years ago, and is open to the public. You’ll also find the Longford Skate Park here. Gnarly as, dude.
11. Solve a True Crime
Skulduggery is a detective game for those who dare to cast a magnifying glass over three true 19th century crimes. Where There’s Smoke… is based in Longford—will you solve the mystery and work out who destroyed Joseph Archer’s wheat stacks? The games are available from the Northern Midlands Council (13 Smith Street, Longford) and some Visitor Information Centres.
12. Stay awhile
Take your pick of beautiful heritage accommodation, cosy B&Bs, and comfortable hotels. Sip port by the fire in the colonial farm cottages at Brickendon and Woolmers Estates. Enjoy charming bed and breakfast accommodation at former coaching stop The Racecourse Inn (c. 1860), Aggie’s B&B, Longford Boutique Accommodation, White Dove Cottage B&B, and The Wellington B&B. Stay in comfort at the Blenheim Inn Hotel, the Country Club Hotel, Primrose Hill, or The Jolly Painter. Happy campers can also stay at the Longford Riverside Caravan Park.
The Longford Railway Bridge
Watch the short video below to learn about the mysterious past of the Longford Railway Bridge. Kathleen Hart investigates the fate of the missing steel columns.
We love it when you share your adventures with us!
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