Meander Valley Highway
There are essentially two ways to travel by road between Devonport and Launcestion; there's Bass Highway, which is takes just over an hours and bypasses just about every town on the way, and then there's the Meander Valley Highway, which follows Bass Highway closely, but takes in just about every town, village and settlement on the way. It will take a lot longer, and how much longer depends on how captivating you find the places you pass through.
If you are short on time and would prefer your drive along Meander Valley Highway to be a single day venture, it can be, even if your starting point is Burnie. Provided you are up and out on the open road early, you should be able to comfortable make it back by sunset if your outwards journey is on Meander Valley Highway and your return on Bass Highway.
Coming from Devonport, the Meander Valley Highway offically starts at Deloraine and ends at Traveller's Rest, which is just outside of Launceston. These days there's not a lot at Traveller's Rest, but what you'll encounter on the way there will surely make up for it. As this road was formerly the main road from Launceston to Deloraine and Devonport, you'll be following in the footsteps of the 19th century pioneer farmers who travelled by buggy, stage coach or on horseback. The places they stopped at to change horses or rest for the night have changed little since those times, and afford today's traveller the opportunity to step back in time and catch a glimpse of what Tasmania was like a century or more ago. The Georgian era villages encountered on the Meander Valley Highway are some of the most intact examples of their kind in the world.
For the benefit of this exercise, our drives starts at Devonport. From Devonport, follow Bass Highway all the way to the turnoff to Deloraine. Go into Deloraine, and from there follow Meander Valley Highway through the towns in the order listed below.
Though it has a population of around 500, Elizabeth Town is one of those places that if you blink you might miss it. But if you do miss it, you will miss out on some of the best gourmet produce of Tasmania's north-west, because Elizabeth Town at the heart of a productive agricultural region producing dairy products and small fruits.
It is a great place to stop as it is the home to Ashgrove cheese factory and Christmas Hills Raspberry farm. Neither are to be missed, especially if you are on the road and feeling peckish. At one you can sample some tasty cheeses and buy some to take home; at the other you can stop for breakfast, lunch or any other reason you can think of and enjoy the taste of fresh raspberries.
Situated 53 km south east of Devonport and 51 km west of Launceston on Bass Highway, Deloraine is a delightful village in the valley of the Meander River. Deloraine has many heritage buildings, both in its main street and surrounding areas. St Marks Church across the river is particularly picturesque. The park by the Meader River is a beautiful spot for a picnic lunch. Deloraine is a major centre for arts and crafts in Northern Tasmania. Wander around and you'll come across many galleries, craft shops and antique stores displaying mainly the works by local artists. Among our favourites are Art as Mania, Bush Rabbit and The Alpaca Shoppe.
Often described by visitors as a hidden treasure, somewhere that they have stumbled across, Westbury is a pretty English-style village on the Great Western Tiers tourist Route between Devonport and Launceston. A village green, lots of tree-lined streets, old courtyards and stables, elegant old inns and a feast of charming old buildings means a visitor could easily spend a day just wandering around the streets. A classic Georgian village and classified historic town, Westbury was developed as a military garrison and the troops were barracked around what today is the Village Green, reputedly one of the few traditional village greens in Australia. Prisoners were put in stocks on the green.
The scale of the town s original survey was such that it is clear there were plans for Westbury to become a city, but the town never did grow. It is today a town where time has stood still. This quaint 19th century village offers a number of reasons to stop and explore.
Blessed with rich red soil, the colinial village of Hagley is situated in the middle of some of Australia's best farm land. Hagley is a centre for hazelnuts, with numerous properties in the area dedicated to growing them. It has a population of around 150 people.
Hagley is on the Meander River which, until the founding of Westbury in the early 1820s, was known as The Western River. The town began in 1825 when William Lyttleton was granted 560 acres by the government. He named his land Hagley after his ancestral home in England. The town was gazetted in April 1866.
Carrick is another small historic village, 17 kilometres west of Launceston, on the banks of the Liffey River. The Meander Valley Highway passes through the town's centre. Carrick has a well-preserved 19th-century heritage; fifteen of its colonial buildings are listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register including Carrick House (1840), St Andrew's Church (1848), the Old Watch house (1837), Monds Roller Mill (1846) and the Carrick Hotel (1833).
Hadspen is a small town that functions as a "dormitory suburb", an extension of the Launceston metropolitan area. Entally House lies on the Town's west, across the river. The town has a small shopping centre with a post office and service station, adjacent to a large caravan and cabin park. Development has been almost entirely residential and mostly on the northern side of Meander Valley Highway. Hadspen has grown without any area set aside for small commercial operations, a fact that has led to just a single shopping complex.
Though not in the Meander Valley, the town of Longford is only 15 km from both Carrick and Hadspen, and close enough to be included in a visit to the Meander Valley. Situated in one of Tasmania's greatest pastoral areas, the town of Longford is an agricultural and administrative centre located at the junction of the South Esk and Macqarie Rivers. It's grid structure is bent on a central axis, giving interesting views along streets at the town centre, which is tightly designed, with generally harmonious buildings. Longford contains some of Tasmania's finest historic homes and estates.