You can speed between Hobart and Launceston on the 200-km (124-mile) Highway 1 (Midlands Highway; locals sometimes call it Heritage Highway) in less than 2½ hours. Doing so, however, means bypassing one of Tasmania's most charmingly lovely pastoral regions.
Heading north from Hobart, the first community you'll encounter (it's about 85 km [53 miles] outside the city) is the Georgian town of Oatlands, set on the shore of Lake Dulverton. Built in the 1820s as a garrison for the local farming community, the town still retains many original buildings that were built from the glorious golden sandstone of the region. There are also some fine old churches and a wind-powered mill.
The quaint village of Ross, about 55 km (34 miles) northeast of Oatlands, also has some wonderful historic buildings dating from the mid-19th century. The town's most iconic landmark, though, is the 1836 Ross Bridge, whose graceful sandstone arches are adorned with decorative carving.
A short detour from the Midlands Highway will bring you to Longford (it's 72 km [45 miles] northwest of Ross). Settled in 1813, Longford was one of northern Tasmania's first towns, and is now a National Trust historic site. Of particular early historic interest here is Christ Church, built in 1839. Although it's only open on Sunday, the church has a beautiful west window that is regarded as one of the country's finest.
There are a number of other historic villages in the vicinity of Longford that are worth a visit. Hadspen, Carrick, Hagley, Perth, and Evandale are all within a short 25-km (16-mile) radius of the town, and all have their own special charms. Near Evandale on the road toward Nile, Clarendon House is one of the great Georgian houses of Australia, restored by the National Trust.
Spending the night in one of the towns along the Midlands Highway will let you more fully indulge in the historic-charm experience; many of the lodgings in the region occupy beautiful old buildings. Perhaps most impressive of all is Brickendon (03/6391–1383 or 03/6391–1251 www.brickendon.com.au) in Longford, whose restored cottages have antique tubs, fireplaces, and private gardens. The compound is a true colonial village, with a chapel, a trout lake, and more than 20 National Trust–classified buildings.
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