3 days in the Southern Midlands
English-style villages and convict-built bridges lend a palpable sense of tradition to the southern midlands, but whisky is now the flavour of life.
- Toast the start of a great journey with a brace of distillery visits. Shene Distillery's roadside stall offers tastings of Tasmania's only triple-distilled whisky, and you can tour the distillery, too, set in a storied estate built in the early 19th century in Pontville. Nearby, the Old Kempton Distillery has an equally dignified location in an 1842 coaching inn, with tastings and afternoon tours available.
- In Oatlands, wander the grounds of the 1837 Callington Mill, which is being repurposed and transformed into a whisky distillery. Also not to be missed is The Jardin Room for unique antiques, Imbibers for local produce and the Oatlands Pancake and Crepe Shop for brunch.
- Grab a pub-style dinner at the Kentish Hotel in Oatlands before overnighting in town.
- Take a morning stroll along the shores of Lake Dulverton, a waterbird sanctuary where some 80 bird species have been recorded. Look for the Cows in the Lake sculpture peeping above the waters.
- On the drive to Ross, duck into the town of Tunbridge, where the convict-built 1848 Blackman River Bridge is Australia's oldest wooden span bridge. Admire Tunbridge Manor, one of three coaching inns that once served the town. Today it's a stately private residence.
- Hit Ross in time for lunch at one of its two bakeries. Bakery 31 is famed for its scallop pies, while Ross Village Bakery is known for its “world’s greatest” vanilla slice.
- Tasmania's merino industry began in the Midlands around Ross in the 1830s and is celebrated in the Tasmanian Wool Centre, which features a re-created shearing shed, galleries and one of the state's largest retail areas dedicated to woollens.
- Overnight at the Ross Hotel, built by convicts in 1835 from local hand-cut sandstone.
- Ross is the perfect size for exploring on foot. Stroll past the red phone boxes on the main street and pick up the phone to listen to audio stories of the town's history.
- Ross Bridge, built in 1836 by convicts, spans the Macquarie River. The 186 carvings on Australia's third-oldest bridge were considered so exquisite that the stonemasons were issued free pardons.
- End your walk at the Ross Female Factory Historic Site, a probation station for female convicts and their babies in the mid-19th century. It's one of four female factories built in Tasmania, and regarded as the most archaeologically intact female convict site in Australia.
- Gather a picnic lunch from one of Campbell Town's cafes and head to the Elizabeth River flowing through town. The 1838 Red Bridge spanning the river was constructed by convicts and is said to contain a million bricks.
- Brush up on local history at the Campbell Town Museum, and then acquire your own artefacts among the town's antique stores or its two secondhand bookshops.
- Continue north on the Midlands Highway toward Launceston, ready to explore the Northern Midlands and rounding out the journey much as you began, with a visit to Adams Distillery at Perth.
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