The drive from Launceston to Hobart is a short two hour affair if done without stops and without taking any time to appreciate the scenery or the landscapes. That would be a tragic mistake - the pristine landscapes of the long open valley that you travel down are dotted with small settlements that have really retained a 19th Century feel, and are really worth visiting and exploring for the appreciation of settlement era Tasmania that they instill. The valley was first an old Aboriginal hunting ground, and was settled by European farmers when colonisation first began to occur- so along the way expect to hear tales of hunters, farmers, artists and travellers, and expect to be inspired by some of the most beautiful scenery in Australia.
Starting off in Launceston and heading south the first port of call should be Evandale, A recurring theme in this drive is going to be the gracious old heritage buildings you come across, and Evandale is a strong starting point in this department, with many of its Georgian style buildings dating back to the 1820's. If your visit falls on a Sunday then pay a visit to the Evandale Markets, where everyone will find something to amuse themselves, especially the children. If its not a Sunday then enjoy a wander along the banks of the South Esk River, or have a meal and a drink in one of the quaint eateries on the tree-lined main street.
Just south of Evandale is Clarendon Homestead, which is recognised as one of the best preserved Georgian houses in the whole country. Also on the banks of the South Esk, its gorgeous and superbly maintained gardens are great for a nature work, which will take you past the original farm buildings and can also include the inside of the homestead, which is elegantly furnished with period furniture. Just south of the homestead is the tiny historical settlement of Nile, where there is a collection of heritage buildings along the banks of the River Nile. Dominating the skyline here is the impressive tower of St Peters Church, which was built in 1893.
Continuing south your next stop should be the town of Longford. Of special interest here is the Racecourse Hotel on wellington Street, where a woman was once murdered for the two gold sovereigns she had stolen from two farmhands and subsequently swallowed. An intriguing story, but the real attraction here is Brickenden National Estate. this is one of Tasmanias oldest properties, a historic working farm that has been managed and owned by the same family for over two centuries. Its well preserved buildings are set amongst lush bush with 7 miles of river frontage. The river is popular amongst fly fishermen because of its trout population. And speaking of trout, nearby is the town of Cressy, which is known as the trout fishing capital of Tasmania because of the large populations of trout in its waterways. Every year the Annual Tasmanian Trout Exposition of Australia takes place here in August, so keen fishermen may want to coincide their holiday with that event.
The historic heart of Tasmania, Campbell Town, should be your next stop as you continue meandering south. Here there are over 100 buildings that are over a century old, and entering the town is like taking a step back in time. When here be sure to visit the Convict Brick Trail, where each brick is dedicated to an individual convict, and contains their name and other information about that. Browsing the inscriptions on the circa 200 000 bricks is an entertaining way to get some insights into the history of the Tasmanian people. Campbell Town follows the Elizabeth River, and there are a number of fine eateries along the main street where you can relax and get refreshed.
Ten minutes from Campbell Town lies Ross, a town most famous for the Ross Bridge, built by convict labour in 1836. This bridge features 186 carvings in the stone down its two sides, many of them caricatures of prominent figures at the time. This region is also at the heart of the wool industry in the island state, and you can learn more about this in the Tasmanian Wool Centre's Heritage Museum and Wool Exhibition which is in Ross. Ross has retained distinctly 19th Century characteristics, and these characteristics are also evident in Oatlands, a town just to the south which has the largest collection of colonial sandstone buildings in a village environment in Australia.
From Oatlands then make the final stretch into beautiful Hobart, where the mighty Mt Wellington rises to meet you. Perhaps you could call into the township of Kempton if you have the time, or the slightly large settlement of Pontville, both which have distinctive Romanesque architecture. Either way, the natural beauty of Hobart is like a cherry on the cake to your journey- a fitting desert to a meal of heritage architecture and breathtaking scenery. The best means of making the drive is in a hire car from Discovery, which will give you the freedom and independence to explore the Heritage Highway to your hearts content. Enjoy.