Motorhome Mission Down The Heritage Highway

Contributed By Gavin Wyatt

The run from Launceston in the north down to Hobart in the south of Tasmania is a brief two hour affair down the Midland Highway if done without stopping. This is an impossibility for campervan travellers though- our exploratory minds and our lust for new sights and sounds just cannot fathom a drive down the centre of Tasmania without gleaning some kind of appreciation for the scenery we are passing through. And so we stop and we look and we take it all in - and it is harder to find a deeper sense of satisfaction than the one instilled in us by this drive known as the 'Heritage Highway'. The expansive valley it passes through is a tapestry of fields, quaint historical settlements and crisp, clear rivers; slowly knitted together over time and presented to you in its present form to explore, enjoy and file under 'exceptionally beautiful' in your scrapbook of campervan travels.

Heading south from Launceston the first stop-worthy village is reached after just 20 kilometres- Evandale. A strong theme of this drive is the heritage classified, Georgian-style buildings that dominate the settlements you will drive through, and in this department Evandale is an exemplary starting point. There are over 38 gracious buildings in the town, many of them on the tree-lined main street. A half day in the town is a good time period to appreciate the diversity of heritage it contains, and will also give you the opportunity to take a stroll down the banks of the South Esk River. If you happen to be in town on a Sunday then you will be fortunate enough to experience the Evandale Markets, a great place to pick up a souvenir and some local fare.

Just a few kilometres south of Evandale is one of the best preserved Georgian-style buildings in the country, Clarendon Homestead. Lying on the banks of the South Esk River it was built in 1838 for a wealthy wool and grain dealer, and besides the large porticoed main building there are a number of farm buildings that have been superbly maintained. Its beautiful gardens are great for a picnic or a long walk, and if you find you have some extra time on your hands then pay a visit to the nearby township of Nile. This collection of heritage buildings on the banks of the River Nile is most notable for the impressive tower of St Peters Church, which was built in 1839.

There is an interesting story about the Racecourse Hotel in the next town south, Longford. In this hotel a thieving woman who stole two gold sovereigns from a pair of farmhands was tracked down by them and murdered for her crime. A dark piece of history that should not be allowed to detract from the beauty of the town, but rather add to its rich heritage. The most striking thing about Longford is not the Racecourse Hotel, it is the Brickenden National Estate. This is an historic working farm that has been owned and run by the same family for over two hundred years. With seven miles of river frontage it is a popular destination for trout fishermen, and bushwalkers love making their way through the thick and lush bush that covers most of the estate. Speaking of trout fishing, the nearby town of Cresswell is seen as the trout capital of Tasmania because its waterways run thick with the popular sport fish. Every August the Annual Tasmanian Trout Exposition of Australia takes place, so if you are keen on your angling then coincide your motorhome adventure down the heritage highway with this large festival.

The next town as you head southwards is considered the historical heart of Tasmania, and there are over one hundred buildings in the town that exceed a century in age. Stop and savour the many attractions in the town, which are spearheaded by the Convict Brick Trail. This trail is dedicated to the nearly 200 000 convicts that came to Australia over a 100 year period. Each brick is dedicated to a convict, and has their name, their birth and death dates and a bit of information about them. Another popular spot to visit is the Fox Hunters Return, a pub that has been serving the public since 1840. Dont miss The Grange either, a large manor-style building standing in the centre of town.

Continuing south, Oatlands is worth a look because of the large collection of colonial sandstone buildings it is home to (the largest number in a village environment in Australia). Walking down the main street is like stepping back into time - there are over 87 of the sandstone buildings on the street alone, and a total of 138 in the town boundaries. From Oatlands its a leisurely 79 kilometres down to Hobart. You can complete this in one hit, or if you have time call into Pontville. 35 kilometres north of Hobart, this was once an important stopping point and one of the main suppliers of stone to Tassy. Today it is another quiet town on the Heritage Highway, remarkable for the vestiges of its past rather than for any importance it has today or in the future.

And then its on to Hobart. With the spell-binding Mt Wellington dominating the skyline here you can see Hobart as the cherry on the cake of your journey, a journey whose short distance takes in a great deal of the past and gives a stunning portrayal of the Tasmanian countryside. You cant go wrong with this campervan trip.

Gavin Wyatt is a journalist with a passion for travel. originally from Zambia he has traveled around the world to end up on the sunny shores of Australia. For more of his articles visit Discovery Campervans

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