Campbell Town was one of the early coaching stops between Hobart and Launceston, and is still popular as a driver reviver some two centuries later. However, this charming town has much to offer as a destination in its own right. Enjoy cosy nights in gorgeous historic accommodation, such as Ivy on Glenelg (c.1838). Spend your days exploring the town’s convict past, specialty shops and galleries, and relaxing on the banks of the beautiful Elizabeth River. Here are our five picks of things to do in Campbell Town.
1. Explore the town on foot
Campbell Town is home to an impressive collection of colonial buildings, including The Grange, which was designed by convict architect James Blackburn in the 1840s. Wander past the historic churches and cottages and imagine life in colonial Tasmania. Spend some time relaxing in the park and feel tiny next to the giant log. Say hello to the sculpture of Eliza Forlong, the mother of the country’s super-fine wool industry, and her trusty ram. On hot summer days, cool off with a swim at the Campbell Town Swimming Pool (check their current opening hours here).
For local tips and information, pop into the Heritage Highway Museum and Information Centre in the town hall. The museum houses fascinating artefacts from the area, including a film projector built in the 1930s, musical instruments, band music, photos and uniforms from the Campbell Town Brass Band (which started in 1844), and a wireless from around 1924. You can also download a brochure and map of the town to assist your exploration of the town’s interesting history.
2. Search for an ancestor on the Convict Brick Trail
The Convict Brick Trail is a special monument to the state’s convict history. Follow the trail of bricks along High Street to discover bite sized pieces of information about individual convicts transported to the land down under. Each brick is engraved with a real convict’s name and a few personal details, giving us a glimpse into their colourful stories (let your imagination run wild). You might even find a brick dedicated to an ancestor! You can also search for specific names in the Convict Bricks Database.
3. Visit Red Bridge & The Elizabeth River
Speaking of bricks, Campbell Town’s Red Bridge is made from over 1.5 million, all handmade by convicts. It was completed in 1838 in the days of horses and carriages, and today carries over 2 million vehicles annually. It’s the oldest bridge on the National Highway and has needed minimal repair work over the years – a testament to the workmanship and skills of the early labourers!
To view the results of some modern day talent, check out the incredible artworks by chainsaw sculptor Eddie Freeman, near the bridge. It’s hard to believe the intricate details were carved by a chainsaw! Each piece is a tribute to an aspect of the town’s heritage, including convicts and soldiers, the region’s natural and agricultural attributes, and prominent people from the area’s history. The riverbank is also a lovely spot for a picnic (you might have to share with the ducks).
4. Do a spot of shopping
If you’re into shopping, there’s something for everyone, with some real gems to be found around town. On the last Sunday of every month, the Campbell Town Market is on at the town hall, with bric-a-brac, cakes, plants, clothes and more up for grabs. On any day of the week, explore the town’s specialty shops, find something special to read at The Book Cellar, search for treasure from days gone by at Wildes Antiques, and pop into the wonderful art galleries.
5. Treat yourself to something tasty
There’s heaps of eateries to choose from in town, ranging from lunch and dinner to light refreshments. Some top spots to refuel include Smokin Guns Country Cafe, Campbell Town Hotel, Breakfast Brunch Lunch Cafe, Zeps Cafe, Red Bridge Cafe, JJ’s Cafe, Cafe 100, and lolly shop A Little Piece of Heaven. Wander down the main street and you’re sure to find something that tickles your fancy!
Some places even combine art and eats. Check out artist in residence Luke Harvey’s 81 oil landscape paintings at the beautiful Gallery 81, treat yourself to some local delights from the boutique cafe and wine bar, and soak up the ambience. (Tip: caffeine lovers, try the Coffee 81 – a single shot of espresso with a precise amount of hot water, topped with light whipped cream.)
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