Heritage Highway Drive

The Heritage Highway follows the original inland road from Hobart to Launceston that was pioneered by Tasmania's early European settlers and built by convict road gangs in the 1810s. Aptly named, the Highway passes through some of the most complete and well preserved Georgian era villages in the world today in which the finest examples of colonial architecture and convict craftsmanship in Australia can be seen and appreciated.

Location

The Tasmanian Midlands, between Hobart and Launceston.

Length

197 km one way.

Return Journey

Follow either the east coast route via Bicheno, or the west coast route via Queenstown. As an alternative, return via Heritage Highway, but take the road via Colebrook, Campania and the historic Georgian village of Richmond between Hobart and Oatlands.

Features and Attractions

Historic George era towns of Oatlands, Campbell Town, Ross, Tunbridge, Jericho and Kempton.

The Drive

When driving around Tasmania, it is difficult for the history buff or those who appreciate the finer points of craftsmanship of yesteryear to choose down which road to travel, as these is so much to see no matter which direction you turn. Such is the case when travelling from north to south - the east coast route has scenic coastal vistas; the west coast passes through World Heritage mountain wilderness areas; the road through Tasmania's heart - the Heritage Highway - takes in some of Australia's finest Georgian era colonial towns and villages.

The Midlands is farming country, green and gold hillscapes dotted with sheep famous for their superfine wool, cattle and poppy fields, hawthorn hedges and winding streams, all ringed by distant mountain ranges, snowcapped in winter. The area is dotted with historic villages; metal handcrafted silhouette sculptures along the roadside depict the bushrangers, convicts and colonial settlers for whose colourful past the highway is named.

If travelling from Hobart, drive north towards Oatlands (79 km north of Hobart), a picturesque town which has the largest collection of sandstone buildings in Australia. Oatlands was established in 1821 by colonial governor Lachlan Macquarie. One the way you'll past the smaller but equally interesting villages of Pontville, Bagdad, Kempton, Melton Mowbray and Jericho, all of which have picturesque convict built sandstone buildings.

Chauncy Vale Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the oldest private conservation areas in Tasmania. Chauncy Vale is located 40 km north of Hobart and 4 km east of the township of Bagdad. It is the top end of a narrow valley running east-west between the Midland Highway and the Coal River Valley.

Oatlands' Topiaries Trail (shaped hedges) continue the tradition of the original topiaries located on the Heritage Highway north of Oatlands, first created by the late Jack Cashion. Designed by Tasmanian sculptor Stephen Walker and made by local residents, the topiaries grow in several locations in the streets of Oatlands. The town of Tunbridge came into existence in 1809 and quickly developed into an important coaching stop between Hobart and Launceston. Tunbridge convict bridge, built in 1848, is the oldest timber single span bridge in Australia.

Ross was established in 1812 when a garrison of soldiers was established at the ford of the Macquarie River. The convict built bridge is one of the finest examples of convict construction work in the world, and is the most photographed bridge in Tasmania. Campbell Town, established in 1820s by Gov. Macquarie as one of the chain of garrison stations between Launceston and Hobart, is today the centre of Tasmania's fine wool and beef cattle production industry.

As you approach Launceston, there are a number of alternatives. You can stay on the highway, and pass through the village of Perth, or before reaching Perth, take Woolmers Lane that leads to the World Heritage Listed Woolmers and Brickendon Estates, before reaching the historic Georgian township of Longford. It is a short drive back to Perth via Illawarra Road. Alternatively, take Leighlands Road (to the right) to thw quaint village of Evandale. Perth, Evandale and longford are all close to each other, so it is not too far out of the way to visit all three.

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