Today we took a little drive up the Midland Highway; this highway virtually dissects the state running from Hobart in the south to Launceston in the north. Our little trip took us about halfway up the highway to Campbell Town.
Along the way we travel through Bagdad, past Jericho and over the Jordan River. On the return journey we travelled a slightly different route and passed through Colebrook which was formerly known as Jerusalem – all quite biblical.
We also passed by the town of Kempton the turnoff for which is marked by a striking silhouette sign depicting coach travel. As we progressed up the highway these silhouettes were frequently visible from the road and seemed to be telling the story of the history of the area. There was the shepherd and his flock, the surveyor, the lone aboriginal, another stagecoach, a highwayman robber and so on – quite intriguing.
First stop in town was to take a photograph of the striking Uniting Church with its towering spire and two story solid stone manse alongside. Religion must have been a wealthy business or had major sponsors back in the early 1800s in this district.
The town is home to the Callington Mill (http://www.callingtonmill.com.au/) built in 1836 and refurbished with work commencing in the 1970s and completed in 2010. The mill is a wind driven flour mill more recently supplemented by a steam engine. The complex also includes a number of ancillary buildings all constructed of stone blocks which seem to be the trademark of the town.
One of the striking features of this complex is the number of dry stone walls that exist – some original and many refurbished in more recent times by women. A sign at the site suggests that the patience to properly construct dry stone walls is now mainly only possessed by women.
Oatlands has a number of other significant historical buildings and is a very interesting stop along the so called Heritage Highway. Another site of interest in Oatlands was the free camp spot situated very close to Callington Mill on the shore of Lake Dulverton. Apparently vanners can stay on site for up to three days – a very convenient stop.
From Oatlands we moved on to Ross – “Tasmania’s Finest Heritage Village” is the claim from the town map handed out in the town http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ross,_Tasmania . Ross is the home to the historic Ross Bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ross_Bridge) constructed in 1836. The bridge is the third oldest bridge still in use in Australia and has the mileage to Hobart (LXIX Miles) marked in stone at its centre on one side and the mileage to Launceston (XLVIII Miles) marked on the other.
In 2003 the bridge was bestowed with a Historic Engineering Marker by the Institution of Engineers, Australia.
Another building in Ross which impressed us was the Uniting Church; this magnificent structure was constructed in 1885, is a beautiful church and is still in use today as a Uniting Church. The building has a vaulted timber ceiling and two lovely stained glass windows. There are a number of separate memorials inside the church including a marble font. Obviously the parish maintains the property in good order preserving the historical significance of the site.
After spending some time in Ross and visiting various sites in the town we drove on to Campbell Town (http://www.campbelltowntasmania.com/). Campbell Town is the home of the Red Bridge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Bridge_%28Tasmania%29 which is said to be the oldest surviving bridge on the national highway in Australia. Next to the bridge are three old trees which have been cut down with the remaining branches having been carved into unique shapes depicting history of the area.
On our return journey we decided to visit Richmond and turned off the Midland Highway along Mud Walls Road to drive through the Coal River Valley. We passed through Colebrook (formerly Jerusalem), Lowdina and Campania before reaching Richmond (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond,_Tasmania). Richmond also has a bridge in the same mould as those at Ross and Campbell Town but the Bridge at Richmond http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond_Bridge,_Tasmania is the oldest still in use having been completed in 1825.
Richmond is also home to Old Hobart Town (www.oldhobarttown.com) an historical model village – built by John and Andrew Quirk and opened in 1991. The village depicts Hobart as it was in the 1820’s. While it was quite interesting, in our opinion there wasn’t much there for the cost of the $14.00 (each) admission price.
As we drove out of Richmond back towards Hobart we noticed smoke from a fire in the hills. We heard on the radio there was a fire at Risdon Vale and there were a number of fire appliances being utilized to control the blaze. The fire burned for a number of days and was only brought under control after an intense water bombing campaign and a period of drizzling rain. Fires make the local residents very nervous at the moment given the recent spate of disasters which affected south east Tasmania.