Oatlands? Maybe the historic town in central Tasmania should have been named Wheatlands? Why? Well, the focal point of the town is Callington Mill… a mill for grinding wheat into flour. But maybe I’m just showing my ignorance of farming, and should stick to writing about the features of the town!
Oatlands – About the Town
Located midway between Hobart and Launceston, this town is home to almost 500 lucky Tasmanians. I say lucky because the midlands area of the island, with the Heritage Highway running through the middle, is a very picturesque part of the state.
It’s the stuff that writers dream of: rolling green* hillsides, dotted with sheep and interspersed with poppy farms. There’s hedges and creeks and a background of mountain ranges, sometimes capped with snow. The Heritage Highway itself is worthy of a separate article (and it’s on my to-do list!).
*I say green, but of late they have been more brown than green, with the area suffering from prolonged drought conditions.
Although one of several villages now bypassed by the highway, a visit to Oatlands is well worth the extra few minutes of driving time it takes to detour. Given credit for Australia’s largest assortment of sandstone buildings, the town dates back to the 1820’s and retains a distinct colonial character. I could suggest that a walk around the beautiful esplanades, past the Court House, the Old Gaol and Holyrood House would be sufficient reason to visit. But for those who want more specifics, here you go…
The blades and cap of the 1830’s sandstone mill can be seen from the highway, stretching 25 metres above the ground. The mill and surrounding complex have been undergoing a million dollar transformation, to bring the landmark back to the glory of a working existence. Artisan bakers from the Companion Bakery across the road in High Street (who operate Callington Mill) will use locally produced flour and ingredients to make their wood-fired, sourdough breads. Sounds yummy!
Companion Bakery claim “…the mill will produce organic flour, specialising in ancient grains such as Rye, Spelt and Quinoa“. See …still no oats!!
Lake Fishing near Oatlands
There’s no way I can claim to be an expert when it comes to the recreation of fishing. (That’s sad – she knows nothing about farming or fishing!!) However, there was obviously an attraction to the town’s Lake Dulverton, judging by the 20+ campervans parked lakeside on the day of my visit. So in the name of investigative reporting, I did a little research.
Turns out, the lake is stocked with fish (and I even know what type: trout and salmon) provided by the local District High School Aquaculture Centre. No wonder it’s so popular – at least you know you have a chance of catching something! Great spot for a barbecue too, with the free facilities and picnic shelters.
If Lake Dulverton fails the fishing enthusiast, there are other nearby options. Lake Sorell** and Lake Crescent are both located to the north west of Oatlands. Fishing in rivers and lakes in Tasmania requires a licence.
**Note to self: find out more about Lieutenant Governor of Tasmania William Sorell (Governor of Van Diemen’s Land, April 1817 – May 1824). Apart from Lake Sorell, Tasmania has the township of Sorell, a Port Sorell, a Sorell Creek… This guy must have been popular!
Heritage Sandstone Buildings
So I’m not a huge fan of fishing, but regular readers will be aware than I am a huge fan of photography. In my eyes, this last feature is the standout highlight. Every which way you face, you will be provided with a lovely shot of a heritage building. Thanks to the highway bypass, the town is peaceful and quiet …and not overrun with tourists wandering into your frame!
Many of the sandstone premises have been converted or restored; cafes, restaurants, shops and accommodation houses feature heavily along High Street. Some of the items available include antiques, porcelain, teddies, pottery and jewellery. The Oatlands Information Centre (also in High Street) has a great heritage display in the back stalls of their building.
Reasons to Return to Oatlands…
The buildings are not the only focal point – the township and surrounds also boast a trail of topiary sculptures (more interesting photography subjects!). Sculptures are big in the region, with a series of colonial-themed steel silhouettes found along the Heritage Highway. But more of that next time…
Casaveen Knitwear also call the midlands home: a working knitwear factory boasting tours, visitor centre, cafe and meeting room. Open 7 days a week and only a short day-trip from Hobart or Launceston, they use pure Australian merino wool for their garments and offer information about Tasmanian history.
As usual, there’s enough reason to justify a return visit, and I will definitely visit Oatlands again during my Heritage Highway research mission. Stay tuned!
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