Part 1 is here.
Time to leave Lonny and go back to Hobart. Instead of just taking the usual three hours to zoom down the Midland Highway, we decided to spend the whole day investigating places that took our fancy.
We first stopped at Campbell Town. I really wasn’t expecting the paddocks on either side of the highway to be so dry – it’s very like South Australia and Victoria. Hobart has Australia’s second driest average annual rainfall (for a capital city) after Adelaide. Big westerly winds off the Southern Ocean bring rain, but it all falls on the mountains and the eastern side of the island is in a rain shadow.
Many (probably most) of the old bridges in Tassie are convict-built. Convicts were used as slave labour on such projects, and also as farm-hands and serving families.
We then stopped at Ross (population 424 in 2011) and Oatlands (population 862 in 2011) to admire these historic villages. The crossroads of Ross is called the Four Corners, with each building having a label:
- Temptation: the Man O’ Ross Hotel
- Recreation: Town Hall
- Salvation: Roman Catholic Church
- Damnation: jail (now a private home).
Ross has the ruins of the “Female Factory” (work house), a convict women’s prison of the 1840s.
Oatlands apparently has the highest percentage of 19th century houses in all of Australia. There’s also a working wheat-grinding windmill, the Callington Mill.
I’d been told to look out for English bumblebees, and we stumbled on one in Oatlands. I’d never seen one (even in England), and they are huge compared to the usual bees. They were first found in 1992 and have spread throughout most of the island. No one is sure what effects competition with native bees will have, or whether they will reduce the food supply of birds, like parrots, which feed on nectar.
We stopped off at a Craigburne Dam for a break in driving – there was a musk duck on the water, plus more black swans. Just before reaching Hobart we stopped at Richmond. There are plenty of old buildings in Richmond, but somehow it’s not really as charming as Oatlands and Ross. It’s also more “touristy”, with an atmosphere somewhat like Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills.
Continued in Part 3