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In the heart of the Midlands, Campbell Town is rich in convict history and the perfect place to explore between Hobart and Launceston. 

The town’s well-named Red Bridge, designed by convict-engineer James Blackburn, is Australia’s oldest surviving brick arch bridge. It was fashioned from 1.5 million red-clay bricks made on site, and still forms part of one of the state’s major highways.

The convicts who painstakingly built the bridge in 1838 were housed in cellars beneath an adjoining coaching inn, the Foxhunters Return. Those cellars have become one of Australia’s most unusual bookshops. Wander through the arches of The Book Cellar and browse a collection that focuses on nostalgia, heritage and Tasmania. 

A few blocks north is a statue of Eliza Forlong, the pioneering Scotswoman who founded Tasmania’s super-fine merino wool industry after traipsing across the German region of Saxony three times to select sheep to transport to the colony.   

Campbell Town was named by Governor Lachlan Macquarie after the family name of his second wife, Elizabeth Campbell, during a visit in 1821. Elizabeth’s name pops up frequently across central Tasmania, including on the Elizabeth River that runs through Campbell Town. 

The town remains a popular rest stop on the Heritage Highway between Hobart and Launceston.

Where

Campbell Town is a 45min drive (68km) south of Launceston, and a 1hr 40min drive (133km) north of Hobart.

 

Insider tip
  • Trace the Convict Brick Trail along the footpath on High Street. The trail is dedicated to the 160,000-plus convicts who were transported to Australia from 1788.

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