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Heartlands

Time-travel in the geographic and historical heart of Tasmania.

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7 reasons to love a Heartlands road trip

Time-travel in the geographic and historical heart of the island.

1. Explore gorgeous heritage towns

The Centre for Heritage is a sandstone building with a grey roof and white window frames stands on a small block of land.

The Centre for Heritage at Oatlands / Rob Burnett

Strolling through the Heartlands' colonial towns is like stepping onto the set of a period drama, though here the history is living and the communities are thriving. Colonial-era gems include Ross, one of Australia’s finest 19th century villages, and Oatlands, which has the nation’s largest collection of sandstone Georgian buildings - 87 alone in the long main street. The entire town of Evandale is National Trust-classified, with plenty to discover behind its handsome facades.

2. Try your luck fishing

A man and a woman stand in a river wearing waterproof fishing gear and discuss which fly to attach to their line.

Fly fishing with Karen Brooks at Driftwater / Samuel Shelley

The Heartlands is one of the world's great trout fisheries, with arguably the purest strain of wild brown trout on Earth thriving in its rivers and scores of lakes in the Central Highlands. These trout are wild and wily, so seek out a fishing guide with experienced outfits such as Trout Territory, Driftwater and Rainbow Lodge.

3. Hear convict echoes

The wooden barn doors to this old sandstone estate show two black vintage cars.

Woolmers Estate / Heath Holden

The colonial architecture of the Heartlands was built the hard way, by hand using convict labour. The neighbouring estates of Woolmers and Brickendon are showpiece examples of pioneer farming, both of them UNESCO World Heritage-listed convict sites. Reminders of convict effort are seen in scores of private and public buildings across the region, and in working features such as the intricately carved Ross Bridge. And the stories are legion in sites such as the Ross Female Factory, a probation station for female convicts and their babies.

4. Trace industrial and farming history

A young couple examine a piece of Tasmanian wool while they stand in front of a large wooden box grading station.

Tasmanian Wool Centre / Chris Crerar

This region is the true historical heart of Tasmanian agriculture. The Tasmanian Wool Centre in Ross traces the history of the wool industry across the Midlands, and this heritage comes alive during a stay at the 200-year-old Clayfield Homestead, on a working farm at Bishopsbourne. The Highlands Power Trail traces the history of Tasmania's hydroelectric scheme, including the state's original hydro power station at Waddamana.

5. Marvel at natural wonders

Thousands of small stalactites hang form the ceiling of this low, well-lit cave.

Marakoopa Cave / Graham Freeman

Hundreds of lakes sprinkle the Central Highlands, waterfalls pour magnificently over the edge of the Great Western Tiers, and elaborate limestone caves puncture the earth around Mole Creek. Park rangers conduct tours through Marakoopa Cave at Mole Creek, or brace yourself for a spelunking trip with Wild Cave Tours. Above ground, head for the heights of Quamby Bluff for vast views across northern Tasmania. The return walk to the summit takes about five hours. Or set aside a day for the 10-kilometre return walk into Meander Falls, which often freeze in winter.

6. Taste a dram at local distilleries

Three womenstand under the shade of a wooden stall's canopy as they talk and order gin from the distiller.

Road side stall at Shene Distillery / Samuel Shelley

Where coaching inns were once the watering holes of choice through the Heartlands, whisky distilleries are today just as prevalent. Stop by the charming roadside stall at Shene Distillery and stay for tastings and a tour of the convict-built estate, or step into the grandeur of the transformed coaching inn at Old Kempton Distillery. Other malt marvels can be found at Adams Distillery in Perth, Launceston Distillery near Evandale and Belgrove Distillery in Kempton.

7. Hunt for treasures

Old brick arches frame this underground cellar filled with books and mazazines arranged on dark wood shelves and racks.

The Book Cellar, Campbell Town / Chris Crerar

Befitting its storied past, the Heartlands is a treasure trove for antique lovers and keen shoppers. Antique stores dot the heritage streetscapes of towns including Oatlands (don't miss the Jardin Room), Campbell Town and Evandale. Book lovers, meanwhile, are drawn to Campbell Town’s secondhand bookshops, among them the Book Cellar, located beneath a former coaching inn. The cellar was once used as the cells for convicts who built the town's Red Bridge.

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