Deloraine and the Meander Valley
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A small historic coastal township that has gained notoriety as a centre for deep sea and river fishing. Swansea sits on Great OysterPointing west across Ringarooma Bay, Cape Portland is the north eastern tip of Tasmania. It was named after the Duke of Portland by Matthew Flinders during his 1798 circumnavigation of the island in the sloop Norfolk with George Bass. It is an important bird breeding area for the Cape Barren Goose, Chestnut Teal and the threatened Hooded Plover. There is a small fishing community at Cape Portland.
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.
Exton is a rural settlement on the outskirts of Deloraine, that lies alongside the railway line from Launceston to Devonport. Exton was first known as Marsh Paddocks, a name that was used also by an early Inn. Marsh Paddock Inn was built c.1850 for William Walter Motton, owner of a Launceston to Westbury stage coach business in the 1840s. From 1860 to 1864 the licensee was George Axtell, former Port Arthur "Point Puer" juvenile convict. The hotel lost its licence in 1920. The building was renovated in the 1960s and the original top storey removed. It is now a private residence.
Bracknell is a small rural town that was established to serve the needs of the forestry industry but is now a centre for the local farming community. An unusual aspect of the town is that all the streets have been given female names, a feature which dates back to the time when the town was laid out. 7 km west of Blacknell are the Cluan Tiers, a foothill or ridge parallel to the escarpment of the Central Plateau. The Tiers are heavily wooded with wet to dry sclerophyll forest, and some fern gullies with myrtle beech and sassafrass in the Liffey Falls area.