There’s something for everyone in the captivating Southern Midlands. You’ll find charming little towns dotted along along the Heritage Highway, waiting to reveal fascinating stories from 19th century Tasmania (in between, play eye spy with the Shadows of the Past Silhouette Trail). Some beautiful historic buildings have been transformed into award-winning distilleries, offering tours and tastings. There’s also plenty to discover outdoors, so go a little wild!
Here are our tips on touring, tasting and exploring the Heritage Highway. Now, don’t come back until you’re good and cultured.
Stories from the Sandstone
Oatlands is a captivating town, famed for having the largest collection of historic sandstone buildings in Australia! You’ll know when you get there because you’ll spy Callington Mill from the highway. The historic Lancashire wind-driven flour mill (1837) is the only fully restored mill of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Guided tours are no longer available, but visitors are welcome to wander the historic precinct at their leisure. Pick up a copy of Stories from the Sandstone and do a self-guided walking tour around the Georgian streetscape. Armed with information about the town’s origins as a military base, plus stories of colonial entrepreneurs, farming gentry, roving bushrangers and convicts, you’ll be viewing the town in a new light! Luckily it’s much friendlier today—browse the antique shops, cafes and galleries, and take a walk along the scenic shores of Lake Dulverton.
Tours with Tipples
Now something for the adults!
At Kempton, head to Old Kempton Distillery at Dysart House, a grand 1840s colonial mansion. Visit the cellar door and relax with a drink in some of the manor’s charmingly restored rooms. Go behind the scenes with a tour, enjoy tastings of their craft spirits, and treat yourself to something tasty from the fresh, home-cooked menu. Ah, the distinguished gentleman life!
At Pontville, Shene Estate and Distillery is an absolute treasure. Their Poltergeist Gin and triple distilled Mackey Single Malt Whisky keep company with the world’s best. Family members conduct tours of the lovingly restored historic site by appointment, sharing captivating stories about the property’s convict past, its links to the royal family, and what it’s like to live and work in a living museum. You can also visit their roadside stall, which is open most Sundays from 10am to 4pm.
Wildlife and the Great Outdoors
Smell that fresh air! Get out amongst the bush, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the stunning rural landscape. A visit to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is always fun. Join one of their daily guided tours (free with entry) to meet the locals and learn all about the amazing animals who call the sanctuary home (including wombats, devils, koalas, quolls and birds). Say hello to one of their free-roaming kangaroos—you might even be able to barter a chest scratch for a selfie! Chauncy Vale Wildlife Sanctuary, near the township of Bagdad, is one of the oldest private conservation areas in the state and was the home of distinguished children’s author, Nan Chauncy. Today, it’s popular with bushwalkers, bird watchers, field naturalist groups, families and school groups. Wear your walking shoes; tracks lead to points of interest such as Secret Cave, Brown’s Caves Creek, Guvy’s Lagoon, and Flat Rock lookout points.
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