Think Tasmania has already published stories featuring the top-quality bookends of downtown Swansea. The Bark Mill Tavern and Museum complex on Tasman Highway marks the entrance to the town from Bicheno. Robyn Klobusiak’s award-winning cafe, The Ugly Duck Out is at the eastern end of the main street, near the nine-hole golf course off Franklin Street. But what’s in between?
Swansea: The Main Drag
It’s amazing what you can discover in Tasmania during a flying visit. Not that we’d recommend any such a thing… if a slow-and-steady exploration is at all possible, take that option for sure! We drove to the east coast from Hobart, visiting Thumbs Lookout in Orford; the Salt Works at Lisdillon and Spiky Bridge just south of Swansea.
Because we were already so close, we nipped into town for a look-see at Swansea’s main drag and a bite to eat. We hadn’t actually planned this part of the trip, but it will definitely serve as inspiration to return and investigate more another time. We always love to chat with locals about their own Tasmanian towns and learn about features worth sharing with Think Tasmania readers. And of course, showcase individual businesses in detail.
On the day in question, we were lucky to catch an impromptu (and free) show right from our front-row window seats at Saltshaker Restaurant. A gathering of jet-ski enthusiasts near the boat ramp and jetty provided much lunch-time entertainment. No doubt the Swansea beaches would come alive with activity during the summer months too.
East Coast Visitor Information
The East Coast Heritage Museum is housed in a building combining old with new…
The old heritage listed section was built by James Hurst in 1860 as a school and residence for the teacher, the new section was built and opened in 2011.
The beautiful building features a striking red roof and also incorporates the local Historical Society, Visitor Information Centre and War Memorial. Tourists would be most impressed with the provision of free Wi-Fi to assist with travel research and allow communication back home.
Supermarkets and General Stores
Dining options are plentiful in Swansea… no one should go hungry on the east coast. If a picnic is more your scene, the small town boasts two general stores. One IGA supermarket is connected to a three-story heritage building on the waterfront. The other corner store version is located on the Tasman Highway as it leads into the main street from Orford.
Morris General Store sells a huge variety of interesting goods including souvenirs, clothing, fishing tackle and camping gear. We even spotted some of Dan Fellow’s CDs and digital puzzles showcasing his Tasmanian photos.
Swansea has a well-stocked pharmacy. If you need a new pair of thongs for beachcombing, they’ve got you (and your feet) covered. If you love to browse through quirky second-hand furniture and trash-and-treasure-style collectibles, Posh Cargo (despite the name!) is the place to head. And what beachside town would be complete without a giftware/homewares store? Bear Cottage Crafts doesn’t disappoint, with a lovely little range of presents to take home.
Michelle Kneipp-Pegler from Uncover Tasmania Guided Tours wrote a great piece for Think Tasmania about the value of the country town hall. Swansea has its own place for community gatherings, a fine-looking building located smack-bang in the centre of the main street. If you like your holiday location to be pretty, we’d say this seaside town on Tasmania’s east coast has loads of attractive buildings!
A footnote to this story: we did notice several prominent businesses for sale in Swansea, but one caught our attention more than most. The Horny Cray… could that be a sign for the Horne family to buy a takeaway shop? We don’t have any of the necessary skills for a venture of that kind, but the name is quite catchy. Hopefully someone has (or will) take over the property and make it great.