Midlands, Tasmania

Midlands (Tasmania)

The Midlands in Tasmania refers to the relatively flat, dry agricultural area between Launceston and Hobart, so named because it covers most of the middle of these two cities. Its name is probably also influenced from the Midlands in the United Kingdom.

Geographically, most of the Midlands is a relatively low plain drained mostly by tributaries of the Tamar River. The natural vegetation was predominantly grassland, but all of it is either heavily grazed by cattle and sheep or cleared for growing better pasture species. On the eastern side it rises into low, unglaciated granite mountains largely covered with sclerophyllous forests, but on the west lies the high doleritic Lake Country, which was extensively glaciated during Quaternary glacial periods and is covered with large numbers of lakes consequently carved into the very hard and erosion-resistant rock.

The climate of the Midlands is the driest in Tasmania, with annual rainfalls ranging from 450 to 600 millimetres (18 to 23 inches). Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year and the region is less prone to very heavy rainfalls than the eastern coast of Tasmania. Because it is not surrounded by sea, the Midlands has both the hottest summers and some of the coldest winters in Tasmania. In summer, maximum temperatures average a very warm 24°C (75°F), whilst in winter most days have frosts, sometimes severe. The lowest temperature in the region is around -12°C (10°F) in 1902, when snow fell in Hobart city.

Owing to the relatively low rainfall and the presence of recently eroded fertile dolerite rocks, the soils are the most fertile in all of Tasmania. Most of them are quite close to the chernozems of Asia and North America, and consequently the Midlands is rich grazing land supporting intensive rearing of sheep. Some grain crops are also grown, though the summers are rather cool for them.

It lends its name to the Southern Midlands Council, Northern Midlands Council, and the Midland Highway.

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