Oatlands is one of the state’s oldest settlements, and was originally established as a military base to manage the convicts who worked on the area’s buildings, bridges and farms. The Georgian streetscape was mostly convict-built in the early 19th century, and today offers a glimpse of what life looked like in colonial Tasmania. The town was even transformed into a film set for The Nightingale, an upcoming period drama about a young convict woman seeking revenge for her family’s murder. This captivating town is just over one hour’s drive from Hobart along the Heritage Highway – here are six things to do when you get there!
1. Explore the local shops, galleries and attractions
Oatlands boasts the largest collection of historic sandstone buildings of any town in Australia (87 along the main street, with more than 150 in total). Many of these historic buildings are living their best 21st century life as antique shops, cafes, galleries, accommodation, and attractions. The jewel in Oatlands’ crown is Callington Mill, a fully restored, working Georgian windmill (c. 1837). Although guided tours are currently unavailable, you are still welcome to wander around the historic site.
In summer, cool off at the local swimming pool, or have a game of golf at the local club. On the first Sunday of each month, search for treasure at the Oatlands Community Market (from 9am to 1pm, at the Oatlands Community Hall). Meet the local makers and growers and pick up something special, such as homemade cakes, handmade cards, goat milk soap, glass painting, photography, and bric-a-brac.
2. Step back in time on a self-guided walking tour
There is a tonne of history to discover as you explore Oatlands. Pick up the Stories from the Sandstone self-guided walking brochure and take a stroll back in time to the town’s beginnings as a military base and stagecoach depot. Keep an eye out for elegant churches, such as St Peters Church (c. 1888), and fascinating heritage sites, such as the Supreme Court House (c. 1829) and the remains of the Oatlands Gaol complex (c. 1837). Informative signs around town tell tales of sheep farming, convicts, bushrangers, colonial entrepreneurs, and colourful local characters such as Tasmania’s most feared hangman.
3. Enjoy a fun day at Soba at Callington
On Sunday, 25th February 2018, 20 master soba noodle chefs from Japan will demonstrate soba noodle making, using Tasmanian buckwheat ground at Callington Mill. Entry to the event is free, however the demonstration and tasting is limited to pre-registered ticket holders.
There will be a range of fun activities on between 12pm and 4pm around the Callington Mill precinct, with food and refreshments available to purchase on the day. Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the historic Callington Mill, and explore the heritage vegetable garden, blacksmiths forge, and other aspects of the site. There will be a range of Japanese cultural and artistic activities on offer, including a performance by a visiting Japanese opera singer.
4. Lake Dulverton Conservation Area
Lake Dulverton is a waterbird sanctuary on the outskirts of Oatlands, and is an important wetland for threatened and migratory birds. It’s also a favourite spot for locals to enjoy trout fishing, boating, bird watching, and strolling along the scenic walking track. Take a picnic for a relaxing afternoon! Oatlands is an RV friendly town, with overnight camping available at the Lake Dulverton Conservation Area (off High Street on the Esplanade).
5. Play Skulduggery to solve a true crime
Put the whole family’s sleuthing skills to the test with a game of Skulduggery! There are three games in the series, each focusing on a true crime committed along the Heritage Highway in the 1830s (available to purchase at Heritage Highway Visitor Centres and the Northern Midlands Council). Forgery for Fools is based at Oatlands, and involves the nefarious dealings of publican, gaoler, trickster and black-guard George Dudfield. Will you crack the mystery?!
6. Walk the Topiary Trail
Oatlands’ amazing Topiary Trail was designed by Tasmanian sculptor Stephen Walker and made by a local resident. You’ll find the topiary sculptures in several locations around town, with a range of delightful creations to spot. The leafy characters are sure to put a smile on your dial!
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