The Midland Highway (also known as the Midlands Highway) is one of Tasmania's major inter-city highways, running for 176 kilometres between Hobart and Launceston. It is part of the AusLink National Network and is a vital link for road freight to transport goods to and from the two cities. It represents a major north-south transportation corridor in Tasmania and has the route 1 designation as part of the National Highway. The highway consists of various traffic lane arrangements, the most common being two lanes one in each direction, with overtaking options and at-grade intersections. At both the Launceston and Hobart sections of the highway there are small portions of grade-separated dual carriageway.
Tasmania's Midlands are famed for both their agricultural and and architectural heritage. The major towns - Oatlands, Ross, Campbell Town, and Bothwell - are among Australia's prettiest villages. Most of these towns were created in the colonial era as stopping points where travellers between Hobart and Launceston could rest and change horses. Collectively the are renowned as the finest examples of Georgian era villages in the world today.
Tasmania's nearby Central Highlands, consisting of a series of mountains and lakes in the Great Western Tiers range, are largely contained in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. The spectacular scenery and easy bushwalks make it one of Tasmania's most popular destinations. The Lakes region is a trout fishing paradise, with Great Lake and Arthurs Lake being particularly popular. The area is one of the most glaciated in Australia and includes Tasmania's highest mountain, Mt. Ossa (1617 metres) and Lake St Clair, Australia's deepest natural freshwater lake, the source of the River Derwent.
Surveyor Grimes marked out the track from Hobart to Launceston in 1807, and Governor Macquarie followed the route in 1811 when he visited the colony accompanied by his wife. The party took five and a half days to complete the journey.
Macquarie again visited the colony in 1821, when the road was fit for a carriage, but his journal records many different sections, and it was not until 1831 that the first regular coach service was operated by J. E. Cox. The first mailman, Robert Taylor, was appointed in 1816, he walked, leaving Hobart and Launceston on alternate Sundays and carrying the mail in a pack. The first record of movement between the two centres was in 1821 when then Governor Lachlan Macquarie selected sites for towns on the highway. It was known as the 'Main Road' or 'Hobart Road' for most of its history. In the 1930s it became known as the Midland Highway, and in the 2000s - it also had 'The Heritage Highway' label applied to it.
Cataract Gorge, Launceston
The route of the highway originally ran between Launceston and Hobart, and passed through the localities which are now known as: Bridgewater, Brighton, Pontville, Mangalore, Bagdad, Dysart, Kempton, Melton Mowbray, Jericho, Oatlands, Antill Ponds, Woodbury, Tunbridge, Ross, Campbell Town, Conara Junction, Cleveland, Epping Forest, Perth, Breadalbane and Kings Meadows. As part of the National Highway, there have been many on-going changes to the highway since the 1980s.
The southern outlet in Launceston bypasses many of Launceston's suburbs, allowing motorists to travel from the Breadalbane roundabout, almost directly to the city centre, at full highway speed. Around the same time as the Launceston bypass was built, the towns of Ross, Oatlands and Kempton were also bypassed.
Tasmanian Road Distances