We’ve mentioned Callington Mill several times on the website before. Michelle Kneipp Pegler was able to visit during the Oatlands Festival back in 2011, and took some terrific photos of the complex. More recently we published an article from Coreena and Roy Vieth of Shutterbug Walkabouts about their experience at a bread-baking class at Companion Bakery. Roger Findlay even went so far as to recommend driving from Hobart to the east coast of Tasmania via Oatlands to see the feature of the Heritage Highway region.
Callington Mill: Grinding Away
Today, we’re sharing a few snippets of information gleaned through our own first-hand, look-see for Think Tasmania. We booked a tour about a year after the complex first opened to tourists, and still freely recommend the experience. First up though, we have to say we didn’t get the full monty at Callington Mill. The flamboyant flour miller we were hoping to meet had unexpectedly called in sick. And as (bad) luck would have it… the fellow who would normally fill in for such unforeseen absences, was also down with a dose of man flu.
But not to worry; these things do happen on very rare occasions, and those bizarre circumstances give us an excuse to return again another day. And really, when it comes to food handling, it’s better for all concerned if the sickies stay right away from the flour, and recover at home with a bowl of chicken soup.
Having said that, we still really enjoyed our tour. Our guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable and she never once tired of incessant questioning from the kids. If she did, she hid the exasperation well behind a wide smile. We climbed to the top, adorned by very stylish hair nets and hard hats, and worked our way down, stopping at each level for more discussion about the process of turning wheat into flour.
Star of the Show
It’s not uncommon for Callington Mill to star on culinary shows touring Tasmania. Poh Ling Yeow had been on-site filming an episode of Poh’s Kitchen for ABC TV right before our visit. That generated much excitement in the camp; almost as much as meeting the MasterChef contestants when they came to Oatlands. It’s fortunate we can all see the inside workings on these shows, because you can’t take your cameras on a tour of Callington Mill. Cameras are considered a health hazard and apparently don’t gel well with the grinding of flour between big, rotating stones.
Despite the lack of any actual flour-milling during our visit, we still had to leave the camera at the information desk. It was worth a try! Given there’s several flights of very steep stairs (picture ladders even) to negotiate, it’s probably best to leave behind any heavy objects that may cause damage if dropped on someone’s head from above. Hence… no photos from the actual tour to share with you in this article. You’ll just have to trust me when I say I really did climb up there. I promise; I did.
Heritage Highway Visitor Information Complex
There’s a variety of tours for visitors to select, many of them incorporating Callington Mill and walks of the delightful Tasmanian town of Oatlands. The Heritage Highway Visitor Centre is found in the same complex at 1 Mill Lane. The staff can provide extensive information about the Southern Midlands, and take bookings for tourist attractions and local accommodation.
There’s also a gift shop in the complex selling a wide range of souvenirs and crafts. It’s one place you’re sure to find Callington Mill stone-ground organic flour. Anyone can purchase the same artisan products sold to bakeries and restaurants around Tasmania. Snacks and drinks are served in Millkeepers Cafe which is open from 9:00am to 4:30pm each day. Try the Devonshire Tea: homemade scones with jam and cream… yum!
Oatlands: Past, Present and Future
With financial assistance from both state and federal levels of government, the restoration of Callington Mill (circa 1837) was finished in 2010. Since then, it’s been open to the public for tours, and is currently the only working, wind-driven flour mill in the Southern Hemisphere. It boasts a fascinating history and has faced many challenges and forces of nature over time, including storms and fire.
Oatlands is just one of many small but interesting towns in the Heritage Highway tourism region of Tasmania we love to visit. Next time we’re in the area, we plan to take high tea at Casaveen and shop for knitwear. We also plan to re-discover all the lovely shops in the main street, like Oatlands Handmade. AND we’ll take the camera and a note book so we can share all our experiences with you. Of course!