Good for the soul

An escape to Launceston is the perfect way to capture some ‘me time’ – and reap the benefits.

I know I’m not alone in thinking that carving out ‘me time’ feels like an insurmountable task when you’re doing life. Life is busy. And when you’ve got work, family and social commitments piling up, finding a little bit of time just for you not only seems indulgent but also a little selfish.

Therefore, when I was given the opportunity to travel to review our new Launceston member rewards partners, I felt like I’d won the lottery. Twenty-four hours of me time. 

I admit to imagining snuggling into an empty king-size bed, sans kid limbs and the possibility of getting a full night’s sleep.

Brig Tamar at Penny Royal in Launceston
The Brig Tamar at Penny Royal Adventures in Launceston.

Play

Every time I walk up the sandstone steps and through the golden, embellished gates of the Penny Royal, I’m transported. I instantly feel like I’m in an Indiana Jones film searching for treasure, and my explorer mode is engaged. It’s a place made for adventure.

The challenge I have is working out if I go straight for ice cream or to one of the many adventures that can be enjoyed. The answer to this will generally depend on whether I’ve got a child tagging along, but since I was alone I actually wandered over to talk to the staff and find out more about this gem.

Located on the shores of the Tamar River, nestled into the cliffs surrounding Launceston’s Cataract Gorge, there’s a picturesque lagoon in the middle that reflects the stunning surrounds and supports a cruise on the brig Tamar. At the back there are rock-climbing walls, cliff walks and ziplines as well as eateries and shops.

In the corner there’s a waterfall and a shipwreck that makes you feel you should be holding a treasure map.

Although I didn’t do any rides on this visit, we came in summer with my then four-year-old, who enjoyed firing a cannon aboard the Brig Tamar Cruise, looking for ghosts on Sarah Island and floating along The Dark Ride. She was too young for the cliff-face adventures at that time but that’s the beauty of Penny Royal – each time you visit you can have a different experience.

Considering ‘me time’ is often spent at the gym, I also took the chance to check out Health & Fitness World.

This warehouse-style gym has everything – a cross-functional fitness area, a floor of old-school weights, quieter workout rooms, group fitness areas and cardio machines aplenty.

The gym is staffed 4am to midnight every day so you’ll never have to worry that you’re there alone, or that you’ll lose your fob. Whether you’re a local or passing through with reciprocal club benefits, you can maintain a schedule that best suits you.

Banksy style artwork at Change Overnight
Artwork at Change Overnight.
Chairs on the balcony at Change Overnight in Launceston
Relaxing on the balcony at Change Overnight.

Eat

A trip away is never complete without one decadent meal, and this was no exception. Seeing as I had the ability to take photos at leisure, my choice for the evening was the stunning Penny Royal Restaurant.

Before dinner, I enjoyed a glass of wine outside while looking through a lens at the brig Tamar as the sun set in an array of pinks and purples. When it got too chilly, I was disappointed to have to move inside behind the windows, but I shouldn’t have been.

The service was so impeccable I was promptly directed to a small table close to an external door that would take me directly to the balcony whenever I wanted.

To save food order panic, I ordered a three-course dinner experience and was suitably sated with delicious eats. I could tell you about dinner but, being a sweet tooth, nothing was ever going to beat the dark chocolate pot.

The homemade honeycomb and burst of raspberry coulis that sat atop a thick indulgent mousse and mascarpone finished my evening off perfectly.

Stay

Change Overnight is a hotel with a difference. It’s a hotel designed to make you think about giving back to the world. Knowing that you’re helping make a difference means you’ll already sleep better – and the most comfortable bed in the world does the rest.

The hotel is unstaffed but this doesn’t make things hard or impersonal at all. The night before I was due to stay I received a welcome email from Anna, the Operations Manager, letting me know how to find the hotel, access the building and enter my room.

All of this was quite exciting, and in a way it began to feel like a bit of a mystery. The instructions were easy to follow, everything worked as it should and I was able to find my way to the hotel with ease. The air of mystery continued through the darkened corridor where the rooms were identified with stencilled letters instead of numbers and Banksy-style artistic gems greeted me in the most unassuming places.

With limited lighting guiding the way, I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect when I opened the door. The contrast was unbelievable. I’d entered a spacious double-storey room styled simply and elegantly, with sunlight shining in from floor to ceiling. When I met with Anna later that day, she advised this was an intentional feel to the hotel – creating an ‘out of the dark, into the light’ sensation.

Each room of the hotel is a feel-good room with a different story and vibe. Each one features a handpainted image by a local artist and locally sourced products that are socially conscious.

When you book, you have the option to choose from one of eight causes to contribute to. You’ll know exactly what your stay will be doing to help and how you’ll be making a difference.

The locality of the hotel makes it a perfect base for visiting relatives or friends from interstate. If you’re travelling into Launceston for the weekend or the kids are playing sport, Change Overnight would make the perfect place to stay.

Boxing punching bag at Health and Fitness World in Launceston
Boxing bag at Health and Fitness World.
Gym equipment at Health and Fitness World
Gym equipment at Health and Fitness World.
Burger, chips and drink at Burger Got Soul in Launceston
Delicious food at Burger Got Soul.

PS

To finish my stay and to ensure I was sustained for the drive home, my last stop called for a juicy burger. But not just any burger, a burger with soul.

The atmosphere gave me some old-school feels as the music streamed through speakers and my drink was delivered in a glass bottle with a red and white paper straw sticking out. My thick chunky chips with soul mayo and Hawaiian Honey burger arrived in a timely fashion.

When I took my camera out to capture the scene, I was pleasantly surprised by streaks of sunlight giving my chips the perfect bokeh background. As a burger lover, I’ve been going to Burger Got Soul for a few years now and they always hold up.