We were inspired to visit the Lisdillon Salt Works by Margaret Morgan of Sheoks Bed and Breakfast in Coles Bay. Margaret has written several terrific articles for Think Tasmania, detailing her local knowledge of the east coast. One of those articles included a piece about the historic Salt Works site at Little Swanport. Despite Margaret’s precise directions however, we still had a devil of a time trying to get there!

Salt Works - Historical Site
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Lisdillon Salt Works: near Swansea, east coast

Lisdillon Salt Works, Little Swanport

Thanks to Margaret, we knew the site was accessed via Saltworks Road “which joins the Tasman Highway between Boomer Creek (to the south) and Lisdillon Rivulet (to the north), approximately 24km south of Swansea“.

However, despite our vigilance on the east coast drive, we missed the turn-off to Saltworks Road the first time around. We later took a series of photos, just in case readers decide to undertake the same journey themselves. From top to bottom, the images show…

  • a view to the north along Tasman Highway from Saltworks Road
  • a view to the south along Tasman Highway from Saltworks Road
  • Saltworks Road itself, leading to the heritage site and coastal reserve
Salt Works - Tasman Highway
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Entrance to Salt Works road from Tasman Highway

With several cars behind us, we weren’t able to safely U-turn on the Tasman Highway. So we made the decision to continue on to Spiky Bridge, for another inspection. We took some photos of Doozie for the Tasmanian Softies Facebook page, and then went on our merry way again.

Salt Works - Spiky Bridge
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Spiky Bridge, between Lisdillon Salt Works and Swansea

Salt works - Tasmanian Softies
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Spiky Bridge: Tasmanian Softies make great models

Coastal Reserve, Little Swanport Estuary

When we finally did take the turn from the Tasman Highway into Saltworks Road, we then promptly missed the track leading to the Salt Works car park. The nondescript entrance is sandwiched between private properties boasting olive trees, and we just missed it. Call it one of those days! But we weren’t phased; we continued on to the coastal reserve and took in the views over the Little Swanport estuary. We chatted with a family trying unsuccessfully to catch a fish from the jetty. We all agreed that the contented pelicans had probably eaten all the seafood on offer that day.

Salt Works - Little Swanport Estuary
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Pelicans sleep: shoreline, Little Swanport Estuary

Salt Works - Jetty
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Jetty and boat ramp for fishing: Little Swanport Estuary

At this stage, we didn’t really know what we were looking for, to be honest. We thought the ruins from the Salt Works may have been across the other side of the Swanport River. There was a rustic shack on the water’s edge, but not much else. The views were terrific though, and we decided to follow the path to a higher vantage point. This road has been closed to traffic by the strategic placement of some huge boulders, but there’s no issues with walking.

The dark clouds overhead were creating a very moody skyline, and the colours in the surrounds of Hardings Bay from splashes of sunshine were a sight to behold. The walk along the cliff-top was rewarding, with views that epitomise Tasmania’s east coast: bright aqua water lined with orange, lichen-covered rocks.

Salt Works - Coastal Track
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Entrance to coastal track: blocked to vehicular traffic

Salt Works - Clouds
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Dark clouds were gathering overhead

Salt Works - Hardings Bay
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Hardings Bay: vibrant colours, east coast

Salt Works - Shack
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Rustic shack: prime position on Hardings Bay

Salt Works - Walking Track
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Walking track alongside the cliffs

To the Salt Works Car Park

Looking down to the secluded beach from the crest of the hill, we could finally see the object of our desire: the Salt Works! We were marginally more excited than the discovery probably warranted, but luckily we were alone with our enthusiasm. The views from afar would’ve been sufficient if access was no longer permitted to the public. But the site was clearly prepared for tourists, and once we knew the exact location of the site, we returned to the car to find the entrance.

Salt Works - Ruins and Beach
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Overlooking Lisdillon Salt Works and the beach

Salt Works - Convict Built
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Convict labour most likely used: Lisdillon Salt Works

Salt Works - Scenic Vista
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Scenic vista from the coastal track: worth the walk

Salt Works - Sunlight
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Beam of sunlight over Lisdillon Salt Works

The track leading to the Salt Works car park is perhaps only a couple of hundred metres back from the entrance to the coastal reserve. Again, we took photos to share via Think Tasmania. Saltworks Road does include a short section of gravel, which may impact those driving hire cars. Follow Cottons Drive to the right when arriving at the fork in the road; that choice will minimise the gravel section of the journey. Cottons Drive is a bitumen loop road, rejoining Saltworks Road at the very place you need to be, facing the track to the car park.

Salt Works - Coastal Reserve
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Final section of road to coastal reserve is gravel

Salt Works - Cottons Drive
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Cottons Drive: bitumen road looping back to Salt Works Road

Salt Works - From Cottons Drive
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From Cottons Drive, facing Salt Works track

Salt Works - Track to Car Park
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From car park: facing Salt Works Road

History on Tasmania’s East Coast

I hope you can understand my directions. I’m not good at following them, and it seems I’m equally inept at writing them down in a logical manner. If you persevere though, you’ll discover a fascinating glimpse into Tasmania’s history from the late 1830s at the Lisdillon Salt Works site on the east coast. We may be making a very good case for engaging a Tasmanian tour guide, here!

Salt Works - Information
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Information board, car park: Lisdillon Salt Works

Rather than repeat what’s already been described online about the Lisdillon Salt Works, I’ll link to the information here…

You can read all about it. Or you can visit the Lisdillon Salt Works and see it all for yourself first-hand. The latter option would be our recommendation.

Salt Works - Lisdillon
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Views towards Freycinet Peninsula from Salt Works

Salt Works - James Radcliff
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Salt works site established by James Radcliff: Lisdillon

Salt Works - 1830s
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Lisdillon Salt Works operated briefly: late 1830s

Salt Works - Innovative
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Well-constructed and technologically innovative

All Roads Lead To Swansea

In hindsight, we should’ve set out earlier on our leisurely Sunday drive from Hobart to the east coast. If we’d made better use of our time, we could’ve added a visit with Robyn Klobusiak at her award-winning restaurant, The Ugly Duck Out. Next time we’re in Swansea it will be our first port of call, without fail (and thanks to Robyn for her lovely invitation, too). You may be pleased to know we did manage to incorporate Thumbs Lookout in this particular trip, and captured some nice photos from Orford. They’re still to come in a future episode of Tassie experiences with Think Tasmania.

Salt Works - Beach Timber
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Timber washed ashore: Saltworks Beach

Salt Works - Beach
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Solitude: Tasmanian beach, behind Lisdillon Salt Works

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Map: Lisdillon Salt Works, Tasmania…

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