The area was first formally explored by Europeans when Governor Lachlan Macquarie and his party passed through in 1811. It was another decade before Macquarie returned to the district. On the second visit he recognised the present site as 'a very eligible station for a town' and, according to a local plaque, he named the town 'Oatlands' on 3 June 1821. The name reputedly referred to a rich grain-growing area of Macquarie's native Scotland.
In the following five years a few settlers moved into the area but it wasn't until the arrival of a military detachment in 1825 that it began to develop.
There are a number of unique landmarks in Oatlands, including the Callington Mill (See Callington Mill post) http://ontheconvicttrail.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/callington-mill-oatlands.html and St Pauls' Church. The mill was built in 1837 and was restored to working order during June/July 2010, and the Catholic Church was designed by Augustus Welby Pugin, the father of Gothic Revival architecture.
For some years after 1848, Oatlands was the place of exile of the Irish nationalist leader Kevin Izod O'Doherty, where his stone cottage still stands.
A railway connected Oatlands with Parattah Junction, on the main Hobart to Launceston line. The railway opened on 13 May 1885 and it closed on 10 June 1949.
In the next decade the town grew rapidly so that it now has arguably the finest concentration of Georgian buildings of any town in Australia.
In addition to working the gallows at the local Oatlands jail Blay also performed his trade at the Hobart Penitentiary, over 80 kilometres (50 miles) away.
According to local legend Blay’s wages were so low that he could not afford a horse and he was so reviled that no stagecoach would pick him up. Not only was his job as hangman one of the worst occupations in colonial Van Diemen’s Land, but Blay was so despised he would have to walk, swag on back, for three days to reach Hobart Town and the gallows at the Old Hobart Penitentiary (the very same gallows are still on display at the Campbell Street site). (See Penitentiary Chapel post) http://ontheconvicttrail.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/penitentiary-chapel.html