P365 – Day 309 – Oatlands (05/11/2011)

A while ago, on a trip back home from somewhere, we stopped in Oatlands for lunch. We didn’t have time to have a good look at the town but saw there were a few interesting little places that we thought might be fun to explore.
So we decided to go back and stay for a night, and we thought a wedding anniversary weekend would be a good excuse to have a night away. It was even better that Juniordwarf’s grandmother agreed to have a houseguest so we could have a night away by ourselves.
I think it’s actually the first night we’ve ever had away from home sans child, which was VERY exciting.
Oatlands is about 80 km from Hobart, just off the Midland Highway and, according to the official tourist guide, it has the largest collection of sandstone Georgian buildings in Australia. There certainly are a lot of them, and the town has a really historic feel to it. Most of them have been well maintained, and the self-guided street tour booklet that we picked up when we arrived provides a bit of the history behind many of the old buildings.
126-130 High Street

 

The original Oatlands Hotel

 

There are some very cool topiary plants throughout the town

 

Oatlands Town Hall
52 miles to Hobart
Side of a building
The major attraction for us was the Callington Mill,  which is a working 19th century windmill that produces organic and chemical-free flours. The mill is open for tours, so after lunch, we presented ourselves for a tour.
Mill Lane – great street sign design
Callington Mill
We met Tony, our cheerful tour guide, who explained that because it is a working mill there are certain requirements for visitors. Firstly we were required to wear a very attractive hair net – which is actually called a snood, so there you go; I learned something – and a hard hat. Looking pretty glamorous we were.
As well as this, we weren’t allowed to take in bags, mobile phones or cameras for safety reasons.
Once everyone had divested themselves of their encumbrances, we headed over to the mill. I commented to Slabs that it was smaller than I’d expected. He replied that it was a mill, not a tower – which of course it isn’t. I think I’d been expecting something like the Shot Tower! This is a five-level mill. Much smaller.
Once we’d climbed the four ladders to the top of the mill, Tony gave us a brief history of the mill: it was built in 1837 and closed down in 1892. A blacksmith set up a forge on the ground level and in 1913 the entire interior was burnt out, due to an explosion caused by sparks from the forge igniting flour dust that was still lingering in the mill (yes! flour dust is explosive).
In the 1970s the first attempts were made by the community to restore the mill, some Government funding was received in 1988 so that more work would be done and finally, in 2010 the work finished, completing the restoration of the mill to working order. The final stage of the work was overseen by a mill builder from the UK.
Tony then explained how the mill worked, from the smutting process at the top (a process to remove soot or dirt smut from the wheat – which isn’t actually done because the mill insists on clean grain) to husking the grain, grinding and packing it at the bottom. (I’ve probably forgotten a few steps, but you get the idea.)
The cap on top of the mill weighs 11 tonnes and isn’t actually fixed to the mill – its massive weight keeps it in place. The four sails weight a tonne each, and can be opened up or closed down depending on how much wind there is, and how much power is needed to run the mill. At night they are fully opened so they don’t turn.
Shut down for the night
It was a really interesting place to visit. I love the fact we can now buy Tasmanian milled flour that is either certified organic or chemical-free.
That was one of the highlights of our weekend. Another was our accommodation, Blossoms Cottage, which we loved.  It’s a self-contained one bedroom cottage, very quiet and peaceful and just perfect for the two of us.
Blossoms Cottage
The inside
The view outside the kitchen window
After our mill tour and checking into the cottage, we decided to visit both of the local drinking venues – the Midlands Hotel and the RSL/Bowls club. The RSL was great because when we got there we were the only people in the place, so we were able to have a good chat to the barman and play pool without shaming ourselves in front of a pub crowd.
At least one of us knew what they were doing
After dinner, we went back to our little cottage and opened a very treasured bottle of wine – a 2003 Bream Creek Cabernet Sauvignon that we’d bought on a wedding anniversary weekend away six years ago.
Brilliant!
It tasted glorious and was a wonderful way to end a great day.
In this case, neither of us knew what we were doing!
This is for Juniordwarf
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