Friday, 24 April 2015

Launceston, historic city in Tasmania.



The Island of Tasmania was for centuries something of a southern Thule - a distant, low latitude, isolated island few people visited or knew about, and somehow shrouded in strange wilderness.

In fact, Tasmania, at just 41º S, is not that much southern, and its rich natural and historic heritage attracts presently a large number of visitors.


I've published here, not long ago, about Hobart, its main city and departure port to Antarctica ; Launceston is the second largest city, situated inland in northern Tasmania, 60 kms up the Tamar River estuary, at the juncture of the South and North Esk Rivers.

King's bridge, one of the city's landmarks.

The first European visitors did not arrive until 1798, when British navigators George Bass and Matthew Flinders were sent to explore the possibility that there was a strait between Australia and Tasmania.

King's bridge was built in 1884 over the mouth of South Esk River.

Launceston, Tasmania

Coordinates: 41° 26′ S, 147° 8′ E
Population : ~110 000

The magnificent Town Hall, built in 1884 in neo-Renaissance italianate style by Peter Mills.

Settled in March 1806, Launceston is one of Australia's three oldest cities.

View from the City Park gates through Cameron Street to the Post Office tower.


The Post Office, another landmark, was built in the 1880s, and the tower added in 1903.


Many of the buildings in the City's centre were constructed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Some are well preserved Edwardian and Georgian houses.

Peter Mills, one of Tasmania’s most respected architects, designed and built a great number of Launceston's character buildings between 1864 and 1882.

Cameron Street has some of the best historic houses:

The Supreme Court (1870), on Cameron Street, designed by Peter Mills, was first built for a rich merchant.

The 'Batman Fawkner Inn' (originally The Cornwall Hotel) was built in 1824 and is the oldest brick building in town.


Art Nouveau decoration.


Façades along Cameron Street.


Esk Terrace, Cameron Street.

Former Peter Mills furnishing warehouse, on the corner of Cameron St. and George St., known as "Diana, Venus & Fortune" (1882). The architect lived here with his family.




The Quadrant Mall


The shopping and commercial area surrounded by York, George, St. John and Brisbane Streets is known as 'the Quadrant', a winding alley with cosy cafés and boutiques. It was made into a mall in the 1970's.

The old town's shopping center - 'Quadrant Mall'.


The 'Pasta', one of a few terraces on the mall.

The Old Umbrella Shop


Built in the 1860s, this unique shop is the last genuine period store in Tasmania and has been operated by the same family since the turn of the 20th century. The shop is listed by the National Trust.


Birchalls bookshop

The oldest bookshop in Australia, on Brisbane Street Mall since 1844.

The Edwardian 'Macquarie House', the oldest house in Launceston (1830).

Boag & Son brewery (Boag's), founded in 1883.


St. John's Church.


St. John's anglican church, founded in 1824 and completed in 1835.

Built in bricks, in Georgian style.

The rosewindow.

The City Park and the Jubilee Fountain

Queen Victoria's Jubilee Fountain was built in the City Park for the 1897 celebrations.



Cataract Gorge

On low South Esk river, this bridge across a gorge is within walking distance from Launceston. A pathway runs along the north bank.

William Collins found the gorge entrance in 1804.

Alexandra suspended bridge (1940), over Cataract Gorge. 


The views are more exciting when the South Esk is under flood - a chairlift has also been built across the gorge for the more adventurous.






Monday, 13 April 2015

Sortland, the lucky blue town of Norway



Surrounded by the astonishing landscape of Arctic Norway, Sortland is a northern entrance door to the Lofoten Islands; this previously rather ugly fishery town is changing colours for a new life.


Sortland is an arctic town located at the mouth of the Eidsfjorden, in the Nordland region of Norway.


An elegant bridge (Sortladsbrua) almost 1 km long connects since 1975 Sortland to Hinnøya, the main of the Lofoten Islands.

Cruise ships as well as the Hurtigruten daily express usually stop at Sortland's harbour.

Sortland is sometimes referred to as "the blue city", since some painted blue houses inspired a local artist to expand the colour to other buildings.


Blåbyen, the Blue City.

Coordinates:  68° 42′ N, 15° 16′ E

Population:   ~10 000 inhabitants.


Some people are less than thrilled by the idea of a blue town. Others are fascinated by the artist’s vision. The idea of having a full-on blue town evidently makes some people furious.


The man behind the idea is the artist Bjørn Elvenes, who envisaged the centre of Sortland as a three-dimensional painting.


At least, this is a project that stimulates lively debate.



Of course, Sortland's church was not one of the 'blue paint' victims.


The current church was built to replace a church from 1776. The present, white, wooden church was built in 1902 in the neo-gothic style.


In Spring and Summer, other colours embellish the possible blue monotony.



But the main attractive of this northern town is the Midnight Sun, occurring from May to July. The Sortland Bridge or the surrounding fjords are great places to observe the dim-light nights.




And of course Auroras are also frequently observed here:


A magnificent Aurora over Sortland's lights.