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First stop, Evendale
First stop, Evendale
Tasmanian countryside
Tasmanian countryside

Launceston to Hobart

Thursday, June 27, 2002
Step back in time and follow Catriona as she drives through the Apple Isle.

Driving is a great way to take in Tasmania's beauty. You can easily rent a car when you arrive, or you can take your own on a ferry from Melbourne. The highways are uncrowded and each town you come to has something to offer.

The Heritage Highway leads to some of Australia's best historic towns. The first one we came to was Evandale, the penny-farthing capital of Australia. It has some well-preserved old buildings, including St Andrews, a church built in 1840 in the Greek Revival style.

Woolmers is Australia's most historic family estate and is the perfect Devonshire tea stop. There is also an interesting museum to visit. Brickendon Homestead has more than 100 varieties of old-fashioned roses in its National Estate-listed gardens and the family in residence is the seventh generation to live there.

Across to the east coast is an easy drive and Bicheno is well worth the detour. It has rolling waters, white sand and is one of the state's most popular holiday towns. Crowded in summer, it turns into a sleepy fishing village in the cold months.

You will see Diamond Island as you drive in, home to penguins who appear at dusk. Just south of Bicheno you can visit Freycinet Peninsula and vineyards with just the right soil for growing pinot and Riesling grapes.

Sunset at Swansea is not to be missed. The pink-granite sunsets of Freycinet National Park are superb, and it's where television commercials for a famous Irish drink were filmed. The little town was the first place settled outside Launceston and Hobart, with early settlers arriving by boat.

It would be hard to drive past Kate's Berry Farm. During the season you can pick your own raspberries, strawberries and blackberries, and there are always jams, sauces, ice-cream and wine on sale. The view across to Oyster Bay is stunning.

Back on the Heritage Highway is Ross, one of the best historic villages along the route. The main street of the wool-producing area is lined with English elms, and the Ross Bridge has 186 Celtic symbols which were carved by convicts. It crosses the Macquarie River, a good place for trout fly-fishing.

The drive between Tunbridge and Oatlands is known for some excellent examples of Hawthorn topiary. You will recognise teddy bears, reindeer, a kangaroo, fish, dinosaur, train and birds. The topiary was started in the 1960s by a roadworker in his lunch break. There is also a collection of more recent metal sculptures along the highway.

In Oatlands itself you will see dry stone walls and the big sandstone Callington Mill, an old steam and wind flour mill. The town has the largest number of colonial buildings in a village setting in Australia, including the oldest courthouse, which was built in 1829. St Paul's Church is a real feature of the town.

Richmond is home to Australia's oldest Catholic church and Australia's oldest bridge. During the construction of the bridge, the convicts murdered their guard, and to this day, locals believe it is haunted. The main street has colonial buildings being used as bakeries, galleries and shops and there is a welcoming old pub.

A little further on is the Meadowbank estate, one of about 20 vineyards in the Coal River Valley, a fast-growing area which overlooks Barilla Bay where some of the state's best oysters are farmed.

Next stop is Hobart, and in all likelihood you will have visited places you would like to re-visit and recommend to your family and friends.

Location

Along the Heritage Highway in Tasmania.

Cost

Prices start at $27.50 a day for five days or more and from $33 a day for less than five days.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Best Western accommodation can be found throughout Tasmania.
Best Western: Ph: 131 779
www.bestwestern.com.au
Ryans Mini Car Rentals
Ph: (03) 6344 3600 (03) 6397 8280
Fax: (03) 6397 8264
fusion@vision.net.au

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