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Tasmania's Heritage Highway
heritage highway tasmaniaThe two hour drive from Launceston to Hobart is filled with breathtaking scenery, stunning landscapes and remarkable sights and is perfect with a campervan rental. This long open valley is spotted with charming, quaint little settlements that still manage to retain their 19th Century feel, with friendly locals that will make you feel right at home. The settlements introduce you to an era of Tasmania that is long gone, but never forgotten. Originally an Aboriginal hunting ground, this area was settled by European farmers during Australia's early colonial days. Stories of these days gone by are told by the hunters, farmers and artists of these areas so expect to be surprise by this rich and intriguing history and soak it all up.

Begin your journey in Launceston and head south towards the charming little town of Evandale. This drive will take you past some immaculate heritage buildings, many of them built in a Georgian style that dates back to the 1820's. If you happen to be visiting on a Sunday, be sure to check out the Evandale Markets, where you will be sure to find something to amuse you and the kids, if you happen to have brought them along. After the markets, take a stroll along the banks of the South Esk River, or have a meal and a drink in one of the quaint eateries on the tree-lined main street. The pleasantness of this beautiful town will capture your heart and remind you what the good old days were like.

Just a little further south, you will come across the Clarendon Homestead, which is highly regarded as one of the best preserved Georgian houses in the whole country. Some superbly manicured gardens can also be found on the banks of the South Esk. This brilliant example of nature is also home to some original farm buildings as well as an old farmhouse that has been elegantly furnished with period furniture. Just south of the homestead you will come across the tiny historical settlement of Nile, which is home to a unique collection of heritage buildings along the banks of the River Nile. Dominating the skyline here is the impressive tower of St Peters Church, which was built in 1893. This is quite a sight and you will definitely need your camera.

Drive a little further south and your next stop should be the town of Longford. The most significant highlight of this town would have to be the Racecourse Hotel, which is located on Wellington Street. This is where a woman was once murdered for the two gold sovereigns she had stolen from two farmhands and subsequently swallowed. Although this is an incredibly intriguing story, you should also take some time to check out the Brickenden National Estate. This estate is one of Tasmania's oldest properties and is known as an historic working farm that has been managed and owned by the same family for over two centuries. Its well preserved buildings are nestled amongst lush bush that is set on 7 miles of riverfront land. The river is extremely popular amongst fly fishermen because of its trout population and this is a pass time many visitors take up while here.

Speaking of trout, be sure to check out the nearby town of Cressy, which is known as the trout fishing capital of Tasmania because of the large populations of trout in its waterways. Every year the Annual Tasmanian Trout Exposition of Australia comes to life here, so if you are a keen fisherman be sure to visit around this time of the year.

If the history of Tasmania is what you are really interested in, be sure to make a stop in Campbell Town, which is known as the historic heart of Tasmania. This are is full of historic buildings and many of these are well over a century old. Take a step back in time as you visit the Convict Brick Trail, where each brick is dedicated to an individual convict, and contains their name and other information about them. Although there are around 200 000 bricks to check out, and you couldn't possibly read them all, they offer an interesting insight into the history of the Tasmanian people. Campbell Town follows the Elizabeth River, and there are a number of fine eateries along the main street where you can relax and eat some of the freshest and finest local cuisine.

Just ten minutes up the road from Campbell Town lies Ross, a village that is most famous for the Ross Bridge. This bridge was built by convict labour in 1836 and features 186 carvings, many of which was caricatures of prominent figures at the time. This region is also at the heart of Tasmania's wool industry and offers interesting lessons at the Heritage Museum and Wool Exhibition which is in Ross. The town itself has retained its distinct 19th Century characteristics, which also carry on in the town of Oatlands, where you will find the largest collection of colonial sandstone buildings in a village environment in Australia.

The final stretch of the Heritage Highway runs from Oatlands to the beautiful city of Hobart, where the mighty Mt Wellington rises to meet you. If you have a little extra time on your hands, drop into the township of Kempton, or the slightly large settlement of Pontville, both which have distinctive Romanesque architecture. However, if you are a little strapped for time, the natural beauty of Hobart is sure to be a remarkable end to your Heritage Highway adventure.

Christine Barton

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