In the 1980s and 1990s, Launceston was home to Tasmania’s most popular theme park, which at one stage had as many as 1,000 visitors per day. Soon you’ll be able to relive those heady days with the reopening of Penny Royal World.

When it first opened in 1979, Penny Royal World provided a fun way to bring history to life. The site near the Kings Bridge at the end of Cataract Gorge was home to a collection of working mills, among them the world’s only complete set of gunpowder mills in working order. These were painstakingly recreated from original buildings that were relocated to the site in Launceston.

Also on the site were a manmade lake and a canal system with barges carrying visitors around the complex. You could take a tram ride too and see how the mills worked. There were even simulated cannon-fire battles several times a day. If you loved being at the site, you could spend the night in the Penny Royal Motel, which was rebuilt brick for brick from a building dating from 1825, or you could stay in the Penny Royal Apartments.

During the 1990s, visitor numbers dropped. In 2001 the gunpowder mill was closed for maintenance and by 2006 the entire Penny Royal World was closed down, bringing an end to an era.

In 2013, Launceston businessman Josef Chromy bought the site and decided to redevelop it. The boat rides that were so popular will return, as will the tram rides. However, they will be joined by a new chairlift linking Penny Royal World to Cataract Gorge.

The new Penny Royal World will offer plenty of adventure, with a zipline and a rock-climbing wall among some of the planned features. There will also be a ride based on the story of Matthew Brady, the ‘gentleman’ bushranger who was eventually captured near Launceston and hanged in Hobart. Another feature of the revamped Penny Royal World will be the restaurants showcasing the region’s food and wine.

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