Swansea is located along the Great Eastern Drive which takes in Tasmania’s spectacular east coast. It is an idyllic town overlooking Great Oyster Bay in the east of the island. Typical of the east coast region, Swansea has the dazzling clear blue waters and white sand, combined with breathtaking views across the bay to the Hazards Mountains of Freycinet National Park.
Swansea is in an ideal central location on the east Coast, approximately 90 minutes from the capital city Hobart. It is also 90 minutes from Launceston in the north. From Devonport and the Spirit of Tasmania dock you’ll be sitting waterside in a little over 2.5 hours.
Swansea is a great town to base yourself in to explore the east Coast of Tasmania. There is fantastic history within the town given that it was the first municipality in Australia to be established after Hobart and Sydney.
In a sheltered position towards the north of expansive Great Oyster Bay, Swansea has amazing beaches, so many points or boaters to access the bay for recreational activities, and is on the doorstep of the Freycinet National Park. Seeing the amazing Hazards Mountains across the bay is really spectacular.
The beauty of the Swansea area is truly a highlight. The crystal-clear waters and views across the bay are stunning so it is easy to understand why this area was one of the first settled in Australia. Staying in this town will give you access to a relaxed lifestyle, great food, fantastic wineries in the surrounding area and some really interesting history.
A family favorite, Swansea has everything for most travel groups. If you’re a fan of spending as much time at the beach as possible, then Swansea is definitely the place for you. There are a number of beaches to choose from – Kelvedon, Nine Mile, Jubilee or Waterloo- and if you’re towing the boat there are lots of boat ramps where you can head out into the bay. Tasmanians have a love of ‘shacks’ and you’ll be jealous of some properties that have been passed down through the generations in this area.
Wineries on the east Coast are seriously good and you’ll find so many tasting options around Swansea. Combined with good Tasmanian produce you will be set up for a relaxing time enjoying your surroundings. Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Andrei Jewell (Yoga - Kelvedon Beach)
Swansea is along the Great Eastern Drive and it is common for most visitors to self-drive this region. There is a bus link available through TassieLink and during the warmer months you may come across cyclists who are braving the long distances and countryside.
You are truly spoilt for choice in Swansea when looking for accommodation. There are amazing luxury properties including self-contained options and these range from the modern and architecturally designed, to heritage cottage style options. There are a number of great guesthouses in the area, motel, hotel and cabin park options as well as campgrounds. There is accommodation for every budget and taste. However, as with all popular Tasmanian destinations, it is advisable to book early for peak seasons and holidays to ensure you don’t miss out.
If you’re travelling to Swansea from the south you’ll come across Spiky Bridge, which was constructed by convicts in 1843. This interesting landmark was built by laying fieldstones without any mortar, the top layer of stones are vertically placed creating a ‘spiky’ effect, hence the name.
There are multiple theories as to why spiky bridge was constructed in such a manner, with theories ranging from a deterrent for cows to fall off the bridge, to convicts seeking revenge on their supervisors by refusing to do their job correctly!
Waterloo Point gives you a great option to stretch your legs in the town and see the site where the town was first settled. The Loontitetermairrelehoiner track hugs the coast and provides amazing views across the bay. In breeding season (September to March) you’ll likely see many shearwaters nesting around the area following their migration from the Northern Hemisphere.
Swansea Bark Mill was originally built in 1885 to mill the bark from Black Wattle trees. The bark was then used to produce tannic acid for tanning leather. The exhibition here shows the former process and has a pioneer display.
The East Coast Heritage Museum shows the extensive history of the area including Aboriginal history and European history. The building housing the museum dates back to 1860.
When exploring Swansea it is impossible to pass by Morris’ General Store. An intriguing building that still supplies the town with general store items, it draws most visitors in for a look and has a historic display room.
The town has many beautiful buildings which were built in the 1800's and have had varied pasts. These include Meredith House and Schouten House which have been converted into modern day accommodation, and the Municipal Office and Court House building, known as the Council Chambers.
Swansea has many culinary options. You may like to try a wood fired pizza with your local wine, feast on seafood at a local restaurant, or stop by for a quick bakery treat at one of the cafes during the day.
Tasmania has a fantastic climate for growing berries so you’ll want to stop in to the berry farm located on the south side of the town to sample some ice cream, berries and homemade chocolate. While you’re in the sampling mood, stop into some of the boutique wineries in the surrounding area to grab a bottle that can be enjoyed while surveying the view from your accommodation. Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania and Andrew Wilson (Bakery Sweet)
The Swansea area had a long indigenous history prior to the arrival of European explorers and settlers. The area was inhabited by the Paredarerme Aboriginal language group and the East Coast Heritage Museum has information on the local people.
It is documented that in 1789 the first explorers entered and named it Oyster Bay, however it wasn’t until 1821 that the area was first settled by three Welsh Families. Lieutenant George Meredith brought two tenant farmers from Glamorgan in Wales and they named the area Glamorgan Municipality when it was established as the first rural municipality in Australia in 1860.
The environment around Swansea features coastal grass lands, rocky bushland and wetlands to the north. The views from the town and surrounding areas over the bay are stunning. Most accommodation focuses on giving visitors to this region the best view of the spectacular environment.
Swansea is just across the bay from Freycinet National Park and is the ideal base for further adventures along the East Coast.