Oatlands, Tasmania: The history of our beautiful town

Article published at: Mar 4, 2024
Oatlands, Tasmania: The history of our beautiful town
All News
Few towns in Australia meld past and present as seamlessly as Oatlands, Tasmania. Thanks to its location between Launceston and Hobart, Oatlands was the natural choice for a colonial military base which housed the convicts who were responsible for constructing most of the town's historic buildings, bridges, and roads. Today, the Southern Midlands Council works in concert with the Centre for Heritage to preserve these historical assets while ensuring their continued re-use and conservation. Read on to learn more about the fascinating history of Oatlands, Tasmania.

The history of Oatlands Tasmania 1

The town of which we're so proud was established in 1821 (but of course the area has been inhabited by aboriginal tribes for tens of thousands of years.) By 1837 the town featured a post office, a railway, 50 miles of well laid out streets, and a flour mill built by Cornwall native, John Vincent. Oatlands continued to thrive into the 1900s, but by the end of the 20th century, the railway had closed, and the once prosperous town was struggling.

One reason that Oatlands found itself falling on harder times was the 'improvement' of the major thoroughfare that connected Hobart and Launceston. After the Midland Highway was widened and realigned between the 1960s and '80s, it bypassed Oatlands completely. In the 21st century, however, Oatlands is witnessing a resurgence of visitors and the town is poised to become an important tourist destination, explains Tasmanian Times.

Although Oatlands is home to fewer than 600 full time residents, our charming Tasmanian town boasts a remarkable number of fascinating attractions. From the only functioning Lincolnshire-style windmill in the southern hemisphere to Australia's largest assortment of quarried sandstone houses, Oatlands offers visitors and locals a splendid selection of things to see and do along with world-class food and drink.


Oatlands is well known for its amazing assortment of convict-constructed sandstone structures, including the oldest supreme court house in rural Australia. History buffs and students of architecture are sure to enjoy a self-guided walking tour of the High Street where dozens of sandstone stables, cottages, and public buildings await exploration. Many Oatlands businesses offer free maps and brochures that explain the history of individual buildings. Oatlands visitor guides can also be found and printed online.

The history of Oatlands Tasmania 2

If you don't have time to visit all 40 or so Georgian sandstone buildings on High Street, Aussie Towns recommends focusing on Oatlands Wood Cottage at the corner of High Street and Stanley Street and Holyrood House which is a former grammar school that sits at 40 High Street. At 79 High Street, you'll find the Commissariat Store and Guard House which is the oldest standing structure in the Military Precinct of Oatlands. Elm Cottage at 82 High Street and the Lake Frederick Inn at 99 High Street are other must-see sandstone buildings that make Oatlands such a special place.


When John Vincent built our wonderful Callington Mill in the mid-1830s, the windmill that operated two pairs of French burr stones was state-of-the-art technology. Powered by shuttered sails that could be opened and closed by pulling outside chains, the mill produced flour solely by wind power before Vincent added a steam-driven mill in 1846. Unfortunately, larger mills captured the majority of the bakers market, and in 1910, an errant spark ignited a fire that immolated everything but the stone tower. Eventually, the tower was lined with concrete and served for many years as a water tank.

Over the sixty or so years that Callington Mill served as a mill, Vincent utilized local grains to produce then-illegal whisky that he served at the pubs and hotels he also owned. In 2021, Callington Mill and the other buildings in the mill precinct have been painstakingly restored to their former glory and the whisky we produce at Callington Mill Distillery today is not only delicious – it's also totally legal.

The history of Oatlands Tasmania 3
Anyone planning a trip to Tasmania should come and see us at Callington Mill Distillery. Here visitors can observe the inner workings of Tasmania's largest distillery from a viewing platform before or after touring the distillery itself and learning all about our single malt whisky. On-site dining at the Cellar Door will be available from 2022, making the Callington Mill Distillery a truly remarkable attraction for tourists and locals alike.


The sandstone that comprises the historic structures of Oatlands was quarried from nearby Lake Dulverton. A major drought that began in the last decade of the 20th century left the lake bed almost dry until welcomed rains refilled the shallow lake in 2010. Today, Lake Dulverton offers well maintained walking paths from which visitors can enjoy an abundance of wildlife including beautiful black swans, says Trip Advisor.

The history of Oatlands Tasmania 4


If exploring the historic sandstone structures of Oatlands or wandering the shores of Lake Dulverton leaves you with an appetite, The Kentish Tasmania has you covered. Built in the 1830s and recently restored, this popular country pub offers delicious dining that features the finest local proteins and produce as well as an in-house bakery that turns out tasty pies, pastries, and cakes. The Kentish Tasmania also offers comfortable accommodations that make it an ideal home base for your next trip to Tas.

The history of Oatlands Tasmania 5

Fans of wine, cheese, and local spirits find a lot to love at The Imbibers Located at 74 High Street in Oatlands, this friendly venue offers a range of Tasmanian ciders, wines, and handcrafted whiskies that match anything Scotland has to offer. Let your server pair wines and cheeses, or purchase a bottle to take back to your room. The Imbibers boasts three 19th century cottages where visitors can get a good night's sleep.

After learning about the fascinating history of Oatlands, Tasmania, it's now is a great time to start planning your visit. If you have any questions about Oatlands or our wonderful handcrafted whiskies, contact Callington Mill Distillery.

The history of Oatlands Tasmania 6
The history of Oatlands Tasmania 7
The history of Oatlands Tasmania 8