by Michelle Kneipp Pegler

The Oatlands Festival has been taking place since 2001, showcasing the history and charm of the heritage town. We travelled to the festival recently to have a look. The sky was grey and the wind was blowing when we arrived, but this didn’t deter the crowd who turned up to enjoy the day.

Oatlands Festival - Heritage Town Crowd
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The crowd: Oatlands Festival, Tasmania

Callington Flour Mill Tour

Our first stop was the Callington Mill as it was an excellent day to watch the mill grind the flour with all that wind blowing to power it. We donned our hard hats and went on the Mill tour. Up we climbed to the very top via four flights of steep stairs to start the tour of the mill; then gradually going down one section at a time while finding out about each section as we went. Watching the big grinding stones as they ground wheat and spelt into flour was fascinating and in the background was the ever-present sound of the sails harnessing the power of the wind. We learnt all about the history and how the mill works.

If you would like to try some freshly baked products prepared from this traditionally made flour drop into the Companion Bakery in the main street. They have an array of tempting treats sure to appeal to everyone’s taste. The Information Centre adjoining the mill has flour, semolina, bran, spelt and sourdough bread for sale all nicely packaged and ready to take home.

Oatlands Festival - Oatlands Mill Flour
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Flour: Callington Mill, Oatlands Tasmania

Bagdad Pottery

From the mill and gardens we went to have a look at the main street, where there were many stalls with a wide variety of goods on show for the Oatlands Festival. In the midst of these numerous stalls were a couple of stand-out quirky ones. Firstly there was Bagdad Pottery. Their slogan is “Mugs as personal as you” and they’re not wrong! We had a good chuckle at the names and nicknames on these attractive mugs, which can be made to order if you can’t find what you’re looking for in the multitude on display. They’re a local Oatlands business and you can also find them at the Salamanca Market every Saturday.

Oatlands Festival - Bagdad Pottery
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Bagdad Pottery: heritage town’s Oatlands Festival

Tasmanian Animal Droppings

The other interesting stall was the one selling chocolate-coated animal droppings. Well they weren’t real droppings, just an interesting way to help raise funds and awareness for Southern Wildlife Rescue and Care Tasmania. I had to have some! I love chocolate coated anything and I knew my money was going to a good cause, as my love of animals is well known by my friends and family. There were bags of Possum Poop (choc coated licorice); Hopping Droppings (choc coated peanuts and sultanas); Wombat Blocks (choc coated honeycomb) and Devil Doo Doo (choc coated clinkers). What a novel way to get the message out there.

Oatlands Festival - Tasmanian Animal Droppings!
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Tasty Tasmanian animal droppings: Oatlands Festival

Oatlands Festival Entertainment

Attractions and exhibitions for the Oatlands Festival were running through the day, with many things to see and do to keep you busy…

Oatlands Festival - Entertainment Elmo
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Michelle And Elmo at the Oatlands Festival

Oatlands: Handmade & Tasmanian

I explored the old stone shops and looked at all the handcrafted items made locally and from around Tasmania. There’s so many nice things for sale and there are so many gifted people in the community. Tasmania seems to be a hive of activity and creativity when it comes to art and craft. I’m always amazed at the amount of talent out there. People popped in and out of the shops captivated with all the items for sale.

Oatlands Festival - Elm Cottage
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Elm Cottage, Oatlands: Southern Midlands

I love visiting these kinds of shops: you never know what you’re going to come across. It appears that the 2011 Oatlands Festival was a winner judging by the number of people who came to visit. It’s so nice to see people support these sorts of activities, as it’s a part of what keeps a small heritage town bubbling along.

Oatlands Festival - Three Windows Gallery
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3 Windows Gallery in Oatlands, Tasmania

Georgian Sandstone Buildings

The quaint Tasmanian town of Oatlands is located in the Southern Midlands area. The town has the largest collection of sandstone Georgian buildings in Australia and if the walls of these buildings could talk there would be many a story to tell of people and events past. A wide range of inhabitants originally populated this heritage town and region: gentry farmers, disreputable bushrangers, the military, convicts and colonial entrepreneurs. In 1811 Governor Macquarie deemed the area “a very eligible situation for a town” and ten years later he chose the name Oatlands because it reminded him of the grain producing areas of Scotland.

Oatlands Festival - Flour Mill Parterre Garden
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Parterre Garden: flour mill in Oatlands, Tasmania

Places to Stay in the Heritage Town

Many of Oatlands’ old and beautiful buildings are now retail outlets, cafes, galleries and accommodation.  You can look for an old piece of the past in one of the antique shops; buy merchandise made by local craftspeople or visit Casaveen, Tasmania’s foremost knitwear mill.

There are a number of accommodation options in Oatlands including Blossoms Cottage, Waverly Cottages, Dulverton Park and Oatlands Lodge Colonial Accommodation. If you are camping or caravanning, Lake Dulverton has a stopover area where you can stay for three nights, free of charge.

Oatlands Festival - Oatlands Handmade
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Oatlands Handmade: click image to read more

Jewel of the Southern Midlands

For me, the jewel in the crown of Oatlands is the beautiful Callington Mill. Built in 1837 the tower stands 15.4 metres tall with the cap and tail adding another six metres. Built of local freestone from the shoreline of Lake Dulverton it stands proud amongst the other old buildings of the town and can be seen as you drive down the Midlands Highway.

Oatlands Festival - Callington Flour Mill
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Callington Flour Mill: Oatlands, Tasmania

Over the past forty years the mill has been gradually restored to its former glory and is now once again a fully operational wind powered flour mill. It’s a much-loved landmark of this area.

Oatlands Festival - Callington Flour Mill Gardens
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Gardens: Callington Flour Mill, Oatlands Tasmania

Michelle Kneipp Pegler writes a blog called Leven River Farm about the ups and downs of her Good Life and occasional forays delving into the lessons of the past.

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Map: Oatlands Festival, Heritage Highway Tasmania