As MasterChef toured Tasmania during its episodes in the State it took in two locations which are proof that off the main highway, in a busy schedule, there is much to discover.
First proof is the historic village of Oatlands, 80 kilmeters north of Hobart on the Heritage Highway, which stretches between Hobart and Launceston. It is also known as the Midlands Highway and is the primary route between our two main centres. The direct journey is just over two and half hours.
It is a case of highway or biway and the time taken to explore the latter will reward you plenty.
Oatlands is the site of a heritage flour mill (The Callington Mill) and the largest collection of Georgian sandstone buildings in Australia. It is a place of obvious history. While the modern-day village is compact, its forefathers had great plans for this former garrison town. Mapped out was a settlement with over 80 km of wide streets, parks and recreational amenities. At a time when reaching Oatlands was a milestone along the horse and coach route which meandered its way between centres of population, planners must have thought that the waters of Lake Dulverton and the whole setting for this important oasis of recovery, and stop-over, would prosper to be a very large town. It never got there, but has inherited oodles of charm and a scale which, for the modern traveller, is like a welcome step back in time.
The Mill is certainly a reflection of that. Grinding mills were common place in colonial times and usually placed along rivers and streams where waterflow provided the power needed for the enormous stone wheels. What Oatlands has now is unique in Australia. Better still it is a working unit and has a reputation for producing material for the craft and specialist baking industry in Tasmania. ‘Industry’ is not the right word because the scale is boutique, personal and it keeps alive the lost art of ‘real bread with real ingredients’. All production is organic.
Entrance to the Mill is $12 Adult. Ask about other tours of the town and its military and convict past. Combine tours for great value savings. The Visitor and Information Centre is at the mill. And, you can buy flour to take away!
Insiders tip … so impressed have been executive chefs from many of Australia’s best restaurants, that this flour is escaping the state to find a place in the nation’s kitchens.
Launceston is Tasmania’s second largest city but within the bustle that is a normal city pace it is possible to find rest and complete ‘non-city surroundings’ at Cataract Gorge just 15 minutes walk along the fissure that brings the River Tamar to life at the Kings Bridge.
Spilling through a narrow gorge which in times of storm is a raging torrent, the waters and aspect of the gorge and gardens make this a place of peaceful contemplation. The longest single span chairlift in the world, a historic (1905) suspension bridge, lawns and pathways through beautiful gardens make this a must see on your itinerary – if even for the free roaming peacocks!