Kempton is a charming colonial town, surrounded by rolling hills and sweeping plains (you might know it as the home of the Kempton Festival and Sheep Racing Championships). At just a 40 minute drive north from Hobart, it makes a great day trip or country getaway. Here are nine of our favourite things to do when you arrive.
1. Horse around
Kempton was settled in the 1820s and became a busy coaching stop on the road between Hobart and Launceston. Today, follow the path of an old fashioned coach and and turn off the Heritage Highway into Kempton for some R&R. See if you can spot the horse and coach silhouette, which is part of the ‘Shadows of the Past’ Sculpture Trail. You might even see a real horse trotting down the main street!
2. Explore the town on foot
Kempton is a lovely little town to explore on foot. Go for a stroll, admire the gorgeous 19th century buildings, and soak up the charm. Keep an eye out for signs along the main street; they tell stories of the town’s historic buildings, including coaching inns and shops (many buildings are now private residences). For some leafy goodness (and an Instagram worthy pic), wander through the tree tunnel on Memorial Avenue.
3. Visit St. Mary’s Church
St Mary’s Church of England is rather striking with its square tower and tree-lined entrance. The church was designed in Gothic Revival style by convict architect James Blackburn. Construction began in 1839—some of the ‘Canadian Rebels’ from the Green Ponds Probation Station were put to work erecting the stonework—and the church was consecrated in 1844. The adjacent cemetery is the final resting place of some prominent early settlers.
4. Admire The Blue Place
You can’t miss ‘The Blue Place’, an adorable building in the centre of town. The old Presbyterian Church was built in 1886 on land donated by James Hadden, whose mother Jane had been a Presbyterian convict transported from Scotland. The church is now the town’s community hall, and is also a great photo op!
5. Tour the Old Kempton Distillery
Whisky lovers, this one’s for you. You’ll find the Old Kempton Distillery at Dysart House, a grand 1840s coaching inn. Take a tour of the distillery to learn all about the whisky making process (and taste the goods). The food at the cellar door is delicious, championing fresh local produce. Over the warmer months, they host weekly Sunday sessions in the courtyard, with live music, tours, tastings, cocktails, and nachos.
6. Go antiquing
There are some lovely antique and second hand stores in Kempton. Pop in and have a browse—you never know what treasure you might unearth! (It’s also a treat to see inside some of the town’s lovely buildings.)
7. Head to the pub
The Huntington Tavern (c. 1821) on Main Street offers hearty pub meals, a range of drinks, and a warm atmosphere. Embrace the supernatural and learn some dark stories about Kempton’s past on one of their ghost tours. The tavern hosts a range of events throughout the year, including live music.
8. Trot to the Kempton Festival & Sheep Race
Every February, Kempton becomes a hive of activity during the Kempton Festival & Sheep Racing Championships (ewe are sure to have a good time). As well as the big race, festivities include music, free kids activities, a working blacksmith, woodchopping, Light Horse Regiment, reptiles, sheep shearing, dog displays, sheaf tossing, and craft and market stalls. There’s also plenty of food and drink on offer. Follow the Facebook page for updates.
9. Stay awhile
Kempton makes a relaxing country getaway (on the whisky trail) and is also a great base for exploring the Southern Midlands. There are powered sites available for campers at the Kempton Rest Area. For something special, stay at the very grand St Peter’s Church, which has been transformed into historic accommodation.
We love it when you share your adventures with us!
Eight Day Trip Ideas for the Southern Midlands
Colonial Charm: 10 Tips for Exploring Oatlands
Taste Your Way Along The Heritage Highway
Hello Spring: 14 Events in the Midlands
Step Back in Time at These Five Colonial Estates
Old Kempton Distillery | @chasingthedarknessaway/Instagram