If you have less than a week to explore the quiet beauty of Australia’s southernmost state, it’s still possible to cover quite a bit of ground. Just as its name suggests, Tasmania’s Heritage Highway is the ultimate way to see its central historic sights, while still having the potential to dip in and out of the route for the odd locally made beverage or natural wonder. The Heritage Highway follows the original route from Launceston in the north, to Hobart in the south, which was built by convicts in the 1800s.
Start off in Launceston, Tasmania’s second-largest city, and a naturally beautiful one at that. The Cataract Gorge is a popular choice for a day out, even in winter, and is perfect for a walk and a barbecue with the family. If it’s cold out, it might be wise to stay cosy indoors – James Boag’s Brewery (the northern rival of Hobart’s Cascade) is a historic choice, having served up northern Tasmanians’ favourite brews since 1883. The brewery offers 90-minute tours that end with a tasting session, making for a splendid afternoon.
Just 18 kilometres south of Launceston lies Evandale, a National Trust–classified town, which is worth passing through for its charming Georgian buildings. Pop by Clarendon House, on the South Esk River, and explore its very pretty grounds.
Next up is historic Longford, with its World Heritage convict sites. There’s a Convict Farm Walk that you can do between two of the major attractions, Woolmers Estate and Brickendon, which endeavours to give you a taste of what life was like for the convicts of the 1820s.
When you reach Campbell Town, which is just 45 minutes, you’re halfway along the Heritage Highway! Stop for some lunch at one of its tasty cafés, or if the weather is fine, try a picnic along the Elizabeth River. Wander along the self-guided Convict Brick Trail to learn about the town’s convict history, and check out the town’s antique shops.
Ross, another grand example of unspoiled heritage architecture, is only 10 minutes south from here, so try and make another stop. If you’re still a tad peckish, try some tasty treats at the Ross Village Bakery. The town is also the site of one of Tasmania’s female factories, and has free entry for those wanting to get a more well-rounded understanding of the town’s convict history.
From here, it’s around 30 minutes to Oatlands, which has more than 150 sandstone buildings still intact that are worth a look at. When wandering around the town, you’ll also see the iconic Callington Mill, which sits within the village, and has accomplished the impressive task of producing colonial-era flour to this very day.
Go slightly off the route in a westerly direction to Bothwell, a town with around 50 Heritage-listed buildings; those with a particular interest in architecture will once again enjoy taking a wander around. Bothwell is also home to whisky distillery Nant, which offers various tour packages comprising historical facets of the estate, along with tastings.