Oatlands Military Precinct
The area known as the Oatlands Military Precinct is the area bounded by High, Barrack, Church Streets and the Esplanade, Oatlands – which is the centre of the town and is still the administrative centre of the Southern Midlands. It is in this area where the township was established in the early 1820s, and by the 1840s it was the centre for what was to intended to become the interior capital of Van Diemens Land. The precinct comprised of at least 30 buildings associated with the civil, government and convict establishments, and was the longest operating military-lead administrative precinct outside the major cities and secondary punishment stations in Van Diemens Land - being disbanded in the late 1850s.
The Oatlands Military Precinct is unique, as it was established as the centre of what was to become a large city – which didn’t eventuate. The remnants of the precinct therefore have not been subject to as thorough destruction as the early remnants of those places which were to become cities. Seven buildings remain of this precinct, and the entire area has been demonstrated to be an area of extremely high archaeological potential which may offer vast knowledge about the formative processes of colonial military and civil establishments. The Oatlands Gaol and Court House are included within this precinct, and will be further detailed below.
Whilst SMC’s key focus over the next 5+ years will be the restoration and management of the Council owned buildings within the military precinct (namely the gaol, court house and commissariat), some work on further understanding and interpreting the precinct will be undertaken as a means of contextualising the buildings within that precinct, and the precinct within the wider colonial administration. Mechanisms for the protection of the archaeological resources of the precinct are also a key consideration in the management of heritage values. Much of the original precinct is still in government ownership.
The Oatlands Military Precinct 1846 (Mitchell Library)