The Southern Midlands has a lot to offer. There are charming 19th century towns with fascinating histories, award-winning local distilleries, amazing food, lovely markets, caves to discover, wildlife to meet, and more. Best of all, everywhere is an easy day trip from Hobart (although you might want to stay for longer). Here are a few of our picks of fun things to do in the Heritage Highway’s south.
1. Spot the Shadows of the Past
There are a few surprises along the Heritage Highway between Tunbridge and Kempton. Keep an eye out by the roadside for bushrangers, staging coaches, emus, a convict chain gang, and colonial soldiers. Don’t worry, you haven’t accidentally time travelled back to the 19th century – the figures are part of the ‘Shadows of the Past’ silhouette trail! The 16 sculptures were created by local artists, Folko Cooper and Maureen Craig, as poignant reminders of early colonial life.
2. Tour Shene Estate & Distillery
Immerse yourself in the spirit of the past at Shene Estate & Distillery. The 19th century convict-built estate has been lovingly restored, and is now also the home of Poltergeist Gin! Book yourself in for a tour of the historic site and a family member will show you around, telling fascinating tales of events over the past two centuries. You can also pop by on Sundays and visit their roadside stall to pick up a bottle of gin.
3. Do an Old Kempton Distillery Sunday Session
Dysart House, an 1842 Georgian coaching inn at Kempton, is now home to the Old Kempton Distillery (formerly known as Redlands Distillery and Cellar Door). Visit for tours of the distillery and tastings of their handcrafted products, and choose from the range of amazing food made in the distillery kitchen. On Sundays in spring and summer, they have live music in the courtyard from 12pm. Get the posse together, chill out in the historic courtyard, enjoy a bite to eat and a drink, and listen to Tasmanian musicians do their thing.
4. Fall in love at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
A day at Bonorong is always a delight, and is something the whole family will enjoy. Take your own picnic, or book one of the BBQ areas for lunch. It’s hard not to fall in love with all the furry, feathery, spiky, and scaly residents. If you have some feed, they might just love you back – you will literally have the kangaroos eating (sloppily) right out of your hand!
The team at the sanctuary are passionate about rehabilitation and conservation, and do an amazing job. Join one of the daytime tours to get the inside scoop (included in the price of admission), or book yourself on an after dark experience for something unforgettable.
5. Step back in time at Oatlands
Oatlands is one of Tasmania’s oldest settlements and boasts the largest collection of historic sandstone buildings of any town in Australia. The town was originally established as a military base to manage the area’s convicts, and the Georgian streetscape itself was mostly convict-built in the early 1800s. There’s plenty of fascinating history to uncover, so pick up a copy of Stories from the Sandstone and take a stroll. Stop in at the town’s cafes, galleries, and antique shops along the way. Don’t miss Callington Mill, a fully restored, working Georgian windmill (c. 1837).
6. Search for treasure at the local markets
You never know what kind of gems you’ll discover at the local markets! There are several monthly markets in the region, offering a range of goods, including: food and fresh produce, bric-a-brac, and locally made wares.
- On the first Sunday of each month, Brighton Market is on at the Brighton Memorial Hall, Pontville, from 9am to 2pm.
- Oatlands Market is also held on the first Sunday of the month, at the Oatlands Community Hall, from 9am to 1pm.
- The Tunbridge Country Market takes place on the second Sunday of the month, at the Tunbridge Hall, from 9am to 3pm.
- The Colebrook Country Market is held on the fourth Sunday of each month, at the Colebrook Hall, from 9am to 1pm.
7. Explore the Chauncy Vale Wildlife Sanctuary
Chauncy Vale Wildlife Sanctuary, near the township of Bagdad, was home to distinguished children’s author, Nan Chauncy. Today, it’s one of the oldest private conservation areas in the state and is popular with bushwalkers, bird watchers, field naturalist groups, families, and school groups. There are some lovely walks to points of interest such as Secret Cave, Brown’s Caves Creek, Guvy’s Lagoon, and Flat Rock lookout points. Take a picnic and make a day of it!
8. Appreciate the work of Augustus Pugin
The region has a special link to London’s famous ‘Big Ben’ – renowned 19th century architect Augustus Pugin, who designed the iconic clock tower, also designed two churches that are still standing in the Southern Midlands today! Both were constructed from detailed scale models. St Paul’s Church, Oatlands, was designed in 1843 and constructed in 1850-51, while St Patrick’s Church, Colebrook, was built between 1855 and 1857. The gothic churches are both striking to look at.
A Bygone Era: Heritage Accommodation Along the Heritage Highway
Holiday Fun: Six Family Friendly Activities in the Midlands
Take the Scenic Route: Six Spots to Camp Along the Heritage Highway
Campbell Town: Convict Bricks, Chainsaw Sculptures & Colonial Charm
Shene Estate & Distillery, @anamnesis30/Instagram