12 things to see and do in Oatlands Tasmania Australia
1. Historical Sandstone Buildings
Over 150 convict built sandstone buildings still survive in Oatlands, Tasmania from the 1800s. Eighty-seven alone are along the main street and are now repurposed into private residences, cafes, bars, bakeries, antiques, arts and craft stores and shops. Many are owned by the National Trust of Tasmania. The sandstone was obtained from the nearby Lake Dulverton.
Oatlands offers visitors the opportunity to connect with history, having Australia’s largest collection of Georgian sandstone buildings in one township.
2. Carrington Mill
The town is known for the refurbished 19th century Carrington Mill and its whisky distillery. Click here to read more about the mill.
Gorgeous gardens at any time of year can be seen all over Tasmania with its colder climate. Walking around the town, it is a pleasure to see the beautiful results of the resident's gardening skills.
The English architect, Augustus Putin, who designed the Elizabeth Tower (often called Big Ben), also designed the Catholic Church in Oatlands, St Pauls.
There are several interesting churches in town, still standing and operational, since their construction in the 1800s. The design features are architecturally different and diverse in each one. l couldn't pick a favourite.
Information plaques are located throughout the town with excellent information on the different properties. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Oatlands, and supported by the Southern Midlands Council, they provided just enough knowledge for visitors to get a snapshot of the history and current usage of the properties. The signs also tell stories of the feared local hangman, bushrangers and bygone days.
6. Lake Dulverton
This 230 hectare lake is perfect for bird watching, trout fishing, bbqs and picnics. Maybe, just take a peaceful walk in nature as you meander around the lake.
Lake Dulverton on the edge of town has half submerged sculptures. According to a poster near the lake, milking cows would roam around the town, after their owners paid ten shillings a year to the local council for that right. The cows would eat grasses, including the native grasses in the lake. School children would collect the cows after class and take them home to be milked. Next morning, the cows would be free to roam again. The cow sculptures celebrate the bygone era of Oatlands. (look slightly to the left of the water spout in the photo below. Can you see one of the cow sculptures? It isn't the only one in this photo)
7. Free camping and facilities
There are two free camping areas in Oatlands (up to 72 hours for self-contained vehicles), free public toilets and an RV dump point.
8. Historic inns
George Aitchison arrived in Van Diemen’s Land in 1819 as an 18 year old convict. The Lake Frederick inn was built by him in 1833, both of stone and 50,000 locally made bricks. George also built two other inns in Oatlands and was mason in charge of the construction of St Peter’s Anglican Church.
The inn is now a private residence and a wonderful example of an early coaching inn. Other inns are now private residences or accommodation venues.
9. The Military Precinct
In 1825, Oatlands was established as a military post on the way between George Town in the north and Hobart in the south. The largest building in the Oatlands Military Precinct is the impressive Georgian styled Oatlands Court house, built by convicts in 1829. As the oldest building in Oatlands it is well worth a look at the grandeur of this formidable building. It would have been quite intimidating though, for those early wrong doers. It was originally a chapel and police office.
A quick walk up the street will bring you to the Oatlands goal, built in 1835, and the Commissariat’s store, watch house and officers’ quarters, built in the 1830s. Between 1827 and 1851 Oatlands was a major part of the convict system in Van Diemen’s Land. - from a plaque in town. It had the largest regional gaol, which meant it also had to house the military, police and their families.
When I visited this area in 2021, the Gaol was in a state of disrepair. Studies are underway to research the restoration. Visitors can wander through the grounds. The lower part of a six metre wall still stands, as does the two storey Georgian Gaoler’s residence and the large gaol yard. Due to the fact that Oatlands has not expanded in size, it is an archaeological dream, with the military precinct still to be investigated in the future.
10. Information signs around the town telling fascinating stories of the past
One of the fascinating town tales was of Hangman Solomon Blay who lived in Oatlands from 1846 to 1868, after arriving as a convict in 1836 at the age of 21. He was charged with counterfeiting. As a notorious hangman (he executed 205 people over his 40 year career) he had few friends and no one would give him a lift to Hobart or Launceston. He was forced to walk to his work. Folko Kooper and Mary Craig’s range of 16 metal silhouette sculptures along the Midland Historic Highway titled “Shadows of the Past”, has one of Blay, depicting him as a lone figure walking to his job. That statue is south of Stonor turn-off. The sculptures are next to the highway and on the hills between Tunbridge and Kempton.
The sign above can be found in the Pancake and Crepe shop
11. The Pancake and Crepe Shop
My favourite place to stop and eat in Oatlands is the Pancake and Crepe Shop, built in and around the old Stables. Click here to read more about this shop. Make sure you taste their delicious scones, as I always do.
Along the heritage highway, in the 1960s, local patrolman Jack Cashion designed over 100 topiaries, north of Oatlands, and now locals are continuing the tradition by creating various topiaries around the town.
These are wonderfully creative, living works of art. A topiary seat dedicated to Jack Cashion, at the Memorial Community Hall, has the words “… A Reminder Of The Past And An Encouragement For The Future.”
In my opinion, these words sum up the town of Oatlands perfectly.
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