Tasmania: Southern Midlands

Midlands Highway

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. The road through Tasmania's heart - the Heritage Highway - takes in some of Australia's finest Georgian era colonial towns and villages.


Located on the shores of Lake Dulverton about half way between Hobart and Launceston on Tasmania's Midlands highway, Oatlands is a hauntingly beatiful, intact colonial era village with it architecture covering a broad range of styles. A designated historic town, Oatlands is said to have the largest collection of pre-1837 buildings in Australia. 87 such buildings are located in the main street while a total of 138 sandstone buildings are found within the town boundary. Oatlands grew in the colonial days as a result of it being the ideal stopping place between Hobart and Launceston, a role it still plays for travellers between Tasmania's two largest urban centres. It is also a close enough destination to both Hobart or Launceston for a day's drive, and well worth the effort. There are plenty of cafes, museums and galleries to keep you occupied, not to mention a number of other interesting historic townships you drive through on your way to or from Hobart or Launceston.


Founded in 1816, the tiny historical village of Jericho is one of the oldest townships in Australia. Like its better known neighbour, Oatlands, the main road of Jericho contains some fine examples of early colonial sandstone architecture, and constructions including examples of convict cut culverts, bridges and walls, many of which date from the 1830s. A mud wall, a relic from the convict probation station, is appropriately known as the Wall of Jericho. Old Jericho Road, one of the few surviving examples of the convict built road of the 1830s, still has some interesting convict constructions including stone walls, a bridge and some culverts.

Melton Mowbray

Originally called Cross Marsh, it was in 1840 that Samuel Blackwell, who was born in Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, emigrated to Tasmania and settled in the district. In 1849 he built the Melton Mowbray Hotel, which gave the locality its name. Later known as Melton Manor, it is just about all that remains of the Melton Mowbray settlement. A complex sprawling over three levels, it has accommodated military, landed gentry, government officials as well as transported convicts since its construction.


A small and charming Georgian colonial village which is registered as a classified historic town. The district was first settled by Europeans in 1814 and was known as Green Ponds - a name which is still retained as the local municipality. The town is full of quaint Georgian cottages, shops and farm buildings. The Heritage Highway bypasses Kempton, however it is worth stopping by to explore. The major historic buildings in the town include the National Estate listed St Mary's Anglican Church, a sandstone Gothic Revival building with a square truncated tower which was probably designed by James Blackburn. It was completed in 1844 and is notable for its square tower, its interesting cemetery, and its position as a central feature of Kempton's townscape.


The tiny village of Pontville, located just a few kilometres from Brighton, became an important stopping point on the road from Hobart to Launceston in the 1830s and effectively replaced Brighton which, at one time, had been promoted as a possible future capital of the island. From this time on it became one of the major suppliers of stone for the whole southern region of Tasmania. Hobart Town, expeditions of soldiers were being sent into this area to kill kangaroos and emus. It is claimed that during one of these expeditions Private Hugh Germain, a well educated member of the Royal Marines, started giving various local sites exotic names. Thus, only a few kilometres north of Pontville, lies the incongruously named village of Bagdad and Pontville is actually situated on the banks of the equally incongruously named, Jordan River.


Parattah and its surrounding area is home to about 100 families, and contains many historic buildings, such as a farmhouse which was once home to Hudson Fysh, one of the founders of Qantas, and a historic railway station. The main street contains a number of attractive dwellings dating from the town's heyday. The village retains the original general store, the impressive Tudor style Parattah Hotel and a number of historic churches. Parattah is situated 7 Km southeast of Oatlands. It was named Parattah in 1879 by the Oatlands Council and is an aboriginal word meaning "ice and cold".


A sleepy coastal village off the main road. In the early 1800?s Southport was a convict station, bustling mill town and international port. Being Tasmania s second largest town at that time, it was proposed as the capital of the colony. Today, it is just a nice quiet spot to relax, go swimming, sail the calm waters of Southport Bay, walk on the beach or a little fishing. There is a monument on Southport Bluff (40 minute walk from the road) to the convict ship George III which was wrecked off the coast in 1835 with the loss of 94 passengers. It is said that the guards on the ship, fearful that the convicts would panic if the ship went down, shot indiscriminately into the ship's hold. This is supported by the peculiar death toll which saw 81 convicts lose their lives while only 13 passengers and crew were drowned.


Campania is small village on the Colebrook Road in the Coal River Valley, featuring historic churches and wineries. Coal River Valley market is held on the second Sunday of the month. Campania is in fact one of the most important wine-producing regions of Tasmania, and has had commercial vineyards since the mid-19th century. Flour Mill Park is a nice place to stop for a rest, picnic, bbq or just relax. There are BBQ huts and large areas of open space to spread out and relax, making it a popular spot with travellers looking to break the journey from the Midlands Highway to Richmond. Campania is a rural town on the Colebrook Road approximately 35 kilometres east Hobart.


Sorell is located on the Tasman Highway at the junction with the Arthur Highway, to the east of Hobart. Sorell is one of Tasmania's oldest towns, being first settled in 1808 as a small farming community and becoming an official township in 1821. Sorell was named after William Sorell, the third Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land. Historically, it was known as a major town on the route from Hobart to Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula. It was the centre of an agricultural area and an important market town. It is now a dormitory town of Hobart, as well as the seat of the Sorell Council.

Dodges Ferry

Dodges Ferry is a small township on the eastern side of the entrance to Pittwater in south eastern Tasmania. Dodges Ferry was named after Ralph Dodge (1791-1871) who operated a ferry service across Pittwater from the 1820s. It is now a popular tourist locale. Like many of the settlements on Frederick Henry Bay, Dodges Ferry has long been a popular holiday resort for Tasmanians, especially for families. With sandy beaches and rocky headlands close at hand, it lies at the entrance to the Pittwater estuary and has a reputation for safe swimming, fishing and boating. Until the 1960s, Dodges Ferry comprised mainly of beach shacks, but an influx of Hobart commuters has seen a change to more modern, larger homes and facilities.


A rural centre set among orchards, Copping is best known for supplying fruit for the tables of Hobart. Part of the Bream Creek district, it was named after Captain Richard Copping, who purchased a property here from George Moore in 1860 upon which he settled three of his half-brothers as tenant farmers. Captain Copping established his own property Rochford Hall nearby at Kellevie. Copping gained notoriety when it was revealed that Port Arthur mass murderer Martin Bryant lived there for a number of years in the 1980s. Many properties were destroyed in Copping during bushfires in January 2013.


Brimming with old world charm, Richmond is one of Tasmania's most loved and visited Georgian era colonial villagers. Rich in history and heritage and contains the oldest bridge and St Johns, the earliest Roman Catholic church in Australia, as well as a perfectly preserved colonial gaol. Established in 1825 to house the gangs of convicts used as labour in the area and prisoners in transit, the Gaol has been restored and is now a major tourist attraction. It is older by five years than the buildings at Port Arthur.

Richmond's centerpiece is its magnificent bridge, Built between 1823 and 182, it is the oldest bridge in Australia still in use. It spans the Coal River, which is at the heart of a region known for its boutique wineries, history, and beauty. The bridge was built by convict labour and like much of Tasmanian convict history, is shrouded in tales of hardship, tragedy, and restless spirits. It is said that the Bridge is haunted by the ghost of the vicious flagellator, George Grover, who was beaten to death by convict workers and thrown into the river from the bridge in March 1832.