#HeritageHighwayMeet – Windmills, Whisky, Poltergeists and Wombats

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On Sunday 9th April, 35 excited Instagrammers gathered together at the Hobart waterfront. The drizzly weather failed to dampen spirits, with the group’s buoyant sense of enthusiasm and wide-eyed curiosity carrying on throughout the day. In place of colonial horse-powered transport, we lived it up aboard our Gray Line coach. Eyeing the ‘Shadows of the Past’ silhouette sculptures from the safety of our bushranger-free bus, we imagined how different life would have been on the Heritage Highway in the 19th century.

Read on for the full recap of our Heritage Highway adventure, and have a gander at all of the wonderful images shared from the day at #HeritageHighwayMeet on Instagram.

Stop 1 – Oatlands

Callington Mill & Visitor Information Centre
Our first stop in the charming sandstone town of Oatlands was the historic Callington Mill, home to a very special working Georgian windmill that was built in 1837. We learnt a bit about the mill’s history while enjoying morning tea, including fresh scones made with their very own artisan flour. A few lucky punters donned some very sexy hard hats and headed up on the mill tour to investigate where the action happens (and take in the best views).

The rest of the group embarked upon a half-hour guided walking tour, and got to stickybeak in some of the town’s historic buildings and find out some fascinating stories about Oatland’s past. Some favourites included the original 1836 Watch House (designed by renowned colonial architect John Lee Archer) and the 1800s Oatlands Gaol, which once accommodated 270 prisoners in tiny cells. What a harsh life!

Stop 2 – Kempton

Redlands Estate & Distillery
Next on the agenda was a visit to the grand Dysart House, the (fairly) new home of Redlands Distillery and Cellar Door. We were greeted by whisky royalty upon arrival – Bill Lark’s son, Jack. The group then divided into two very distinct subgroups: those who went straight for the wine and those who went straight for the food! The incredible ploughman’s lunch spread was as much a visual feast as… well, an actual feast. To enjoy such delights in the stunningly restored Dysart House had us feeling a little bit fancy.

Jack then showed us to the distillery, and I’m sure he was imparting a lot of interesting wisdom about the whole whisky thing, but all you need to know is that there was the most adorable dog! We had time for a bit of a wander (the vine-covered courtyard is so beautiful, check it out at one of their festive Sunday Sessions).

We then had the pleasure of tasting the goods. As instructed, we had a go at smelling the sixteen-year-old whisky at different depths of the glass to try and identify the range of subtleties. There was some excited murmuring and exclamations of ‘ah, yes!’ and ‘delightfully fragrant!’ (side note: I definitely did it right because I am extremely fancy and cultured, okay? Glad we cleared that up.) The spoiling didn’t end there, and we were each gifted a yummy chocolate for dessert on our way out!

Stop 3 – Pontville

Shene Estate & Distillery
Our third stop was the atmospheric Shene Estate & Distillery. Anne greeted us when we pulled up, and warmly invited us in to explore their impressive colonial estate and distillery. Myfanwy captured our attention with some intriguing stories about the historic site, after which we were encouraged to wander through the 1851 gothic stables.

The Kernke family have spent a decade restoring Shene, and their passion and dedication shines through in all of the tiny details; from the strong leathery smell of the stables, to the secret chapel, to the tightly winding staircase to the roofless lookout, to the romance of the chandelier-lit gin tasting room. This was a wholly immersive and enchanting experience.

And the Poltergeist Gin – oh my! We completely understand why this fragrant spirit just won Gold at the 2017 World Gin Awards. We took a peek into the distillery, and Head Distiller Damian Mackey was on site to answer our questions. If you’d like to pick up a bottle of Poltergeist for yourself, take a leisurely Sunday drive up the country road to their adorable roadside stall. Oh, and did we mention the puppy? Gillie the Distillery Dog (In Training!) is a fluffy, white, bouncy, happy, smiley bundle of joy.

A post shared by Malissa R (@malissar) on

A post shared by Sam Morley (@samorleyy) on

Stop 4 – Brighton

Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
The rain cleared and our old mate the sun made a grand entrance for our fourth and final stop at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. After a yummy afternoon tea, we were treated to a tour by the lovely Bernadette. One of the many things we learnt during our visit was that a lot of people nurture a strong affection for wombats. As Bernadette explained (with the help of a very cuddly little lady), young wombats are beautiful, snuggly, sweet souls, until it’s time for them to make their way in the big wide world. Not unlike human teenagers, wombats then have a drastic personality change and become very aggressive.

Along the tour, we laughed at the playful antics of the pole-dancing devils, had selfies with the gorgeous koala, giggled as the Forester kangaroos ate from our hands (with lots of slobber), marvelled at the cute/ferocious quolls, and were not ashamed to admit our fear of the intense emus.

We finished the day just a little bit damp, with full stomachs, and some new friends (of both the human and animal variety), plus a lot of photos to share! Thanks to everyone for coming along and to our hosts for making the day so enjoyable. See you next time!

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