A small historic coastal township that has gained notoriety as a centre for deep sea and river fishing. Swansea sits on Great Oyster Bay and gazes across at the rugged mountains of the Freycinet National Park. It is a pretty setting and it boasts a very substantial number of historic homes and buildings which give this fishing and holiday destination a distinctive charm. Swansea is a popular place to retire, as it has the largest percentage of over-65-year-olds in its population of any town in Tasmania.

Where Is it?: Swansea is 134 km from Hobart; 133 km from Launceston; 67 km from Campbell Town on Great Oyster Bay.

Click or tap a heading below for more information. Click or tap the heading again to hide the information
Schouten House

Schouten House (formerly the Swansea Inn), is one of Swansea's iconic historic buildings. Erected in 1844 in the traditional grand Georgian style, by William Champion of Hobart, as a wedding gift for his daughter Theresa, who married Samuel Wellard. From this point on the building has etched its place in the history of Swansea in both a tragic and a magnificent way. Schouten House takes its name from Schouten Island, which sits across Great Oyster Bay at the tip of Freycinet Peninsula. The island was first named Schouten's Isle in 1642 by Dutch navigator and explorer Abel Tasman, while surveying the south-west coast of Tasmania He named the island after Joost Schouten, a member of the Council of the Dutch East India Company which had backed his voyage.

Morris General Store

Now an impressive three-storey building on the main road through the town, this Georgian brick and stone store has been in the Morris family ownership and operation for over 100 years. It was built as a single storey structure about 1845 and the top two floors were added in 1855 as business expanded. Levels one and two are of uncoursed random stone, level three is brick (English bond). Also featured are timber window lintels, 12-pane windows and iron hip roof-double hips.
Location: Morris General Store, 13 Franklin St, Swansea.

Swansea Bark Mill

Swansea Bark Mill and East Coast Museum was built by the Morey family in the 1880s (circa 1885). This historic machinery plant originally processed black wattle bark which was the basic ingredient used for tanning leather. It is possible to see the machinery working today. This is certainly Australia s only restored Black Wattle Bark Mill, and possibly the only one in the world. Made from a variety of objects found at the time, such as jam tins, packing cases and old bed sheets, a visit here gives a fascinating insight into the ancient art of using bark or tanning leather.

Spiky Bridge

An unusual stone bridge which is more like a causeway, Spiky Bridge was built in the period 1845-48 by convicts from the Rocky Hills probation station on the east coast of Tasmania. The structure is an edifice to convict craftmanship. Previously named La Farelles bridge, its present name derives from its distinctive parapets.

It took the cunning and ingenuity of an Irishman to ensure that a notoriously difficult road on Tasmania's east coast was improved. Edward Shaw was a friend of Major de Gillern, then superintendent of the Rocky Hills Probation station. Tired of his requests to improve the road traversing the steep gully south of Waterloo Point, some 7.5 kilometres south of Swansea, Edward took matters into his own hands. One night while driving the Major home he took the gully at full gallop making the journey somewhat uncomfortable for the Major. In no time a convict gang was assigned to build a bridge across the sharp dip.

This field stone bridge sppears to be dry stonework. Its side walls, being of random rubble, make it more a causeway with small arched culvert. It features stone buttresses on west side beside a central channel. The lower side of the west wall (sloping side) was strengthened during 1920's. The bridge parapets with large and small upright stones inspired the bridge's present name. It has been claimed that the spikes were designed to prevent cattle falling over the sides. The bridge is located on the Tasman Highway near Swansea.

Three Arch Bridge

7 kms further south of the Spiky Bridge is another interesting bridge, again named in a practical manner. Three Arch Bridge, also convict built, is actually underneath the existing east coast road, which has been constructed over the top. You can access the bridge by walking 40 metres along a track from the carpark and camping ground at Mayfield Beach.

Australia's Longest Place Name

The longest name in Australia is right in the heart of Swansea. The loon.tite.ter.mair.re.le.hoin.er walk is a graveled and well-marked track around Waterloo Point. It offers stunning coastal scenery and passes through a shearwater breeding area. The birds can be seen at dusk in the summer months.

Freycinet National Park

Jutting out between The Tasman Sea and Great Oyster Bay on Tasmania s east coast, Freycinet Peninsula (58 east by road) is one of Tasmania s most visited destination. It is a rugged and beautiful stretch of land, noted for its white-sand beaches, secluded coves, panoramic vistas, rocky cliffs and excellent bushwalks through the Freycinet National Park. Coles Bay is the only settlement on the peninsula.

In its own way Freycinet National Park is one of Australia s most interesting wilderness areas  where else in the world do you see red granite cliffs tumbling into the cold ocean? This 10 000 ha park is alive with unusual animals  Tasmanian pademelons, white-breasted sea eagles, red-necked wallabies  and in season offers spectacular displays of rare native flora, notably a wide variety of native orchids. It is fair to say that it is one of the country s most spectacularly beautiful areas and when the weather is perfect it is hard to imagine a more peaceful and awe-inspiring piece of coastline.

Schouten Island

Schouten Island, to the immediate south of Freycinet Peninsula, is part of Freycinet National Park. Named by Dutchman Abel Tasman in 1642 after after Joost Schouten, a member of the Council of the Dutch East India Company, is a rugged, uninhabited island surrounded by cliffs, broken by sheltered bays. From 1850 Schouten was used for grazing sheep, with grazing leases only expiring in 1969. The island is popular with campers and kayakers and is currently used as a site for ecotourism experiences such as diving and seal-watching, out of Coles Bay.

Maria Island

Maria Island (49 km south) is an uninhabited, serene place where the visitor feels they have left civilization behind and stepped into another world. The main attraction is the beautiful scenery and wildlife, however the remains of the abandoned convict settlement of Darlington adds to its uniqueness and sense of isolation. A day trip is just enough time to get the feel of the place, but to explore it in detail you would need much more.

Lake Leake

Lake Leake (37 km west) is a popular boating and fishing spot, with excellent lakeside picnic and barbeque facilities. Campbell Town is an historic town on the Midland Highway midway between Hobart and Launceston. The village of Lake Leake is built on land owned by the Northern Midlands Council. Inhabitants must purchase a license to have a building there are restricted in the number of days per year they can live there. The main purpose is to accommodate recreational anglers.

The traditional custodians of the area were the peenrymairmemener clan of the North Midlands Nation. The area was originally a wetland, or series of lagoons, and was called by the peenrymairmemener Koannerwe (koan.ner.we).] The area was described by contemporary colonial British as a 'resort of the natives' - an aboriginal meeting place, and contemporaries describe finding several aboriginal huts in the area. The area contains remains of aboriginal artifacts and a quarry where the peenrymairmemener crafted stone tools.

The area was renamed by colonials 'Kearney's Bogs' and then Lake Leake after the dam was constructed. The reservoir was constructed after a long debate. A 5-metre high dam was finished in 1884. The initial capacity was 19.9 cubic metres and an area of 6 square kilometres. In 1971 the spillway highest point was raised by 18 centimetres to increase storage capacity. Water is released for irrigation and also stored to maintain a fishing facility. Lake Leake is usually at least half full.

Rawlinna is a locality located between the south side of the lake and Lake Yaleena, another water impoundment. Lake Yaleena is a privately built dammed lake, specifically for fishing. It is a business that includes accommodation in cabins.

Meetus Falls

A majestic, tall waterfall plunging the Cygnet River into a gorge below. The walking track to the viewing platform is a 15 minute round trip, but is a little steep in places. The walk down to the falls lookout is easy to follow and there is a good view of the falls from the lookout. The walk down to the river and the base of the falls is much harder. The track is steep in spots and could be very slippery after rain. You actually arrive at the river downstream from the falls. There is a deep water, steep sided, narrow passage through the rock in the river band just below the falls. Getting past this requires some perilous climbing (or a swim). Reaching the base of the falls is quite difficult.
Location: via Lake Leake Highway from either Campbell Town or Swansea. From the cnr of Tasman Highway and Lake Leake Highway, take the latter and travel about 20km to MacKays Road to the south. Follow the signs to Meetus Falls. About 6km along the unsealed access road is the car park for Lost Falls.

Lost Falls

A tall waterfall that flows seasonally only. The viewing platform is a short distance from the parking area. The fall itself is a reasonable drop with a small cascade near the top and then a fall over a rock into a pond, then another long fall over rocks that slope steeply down into the deep ravine. At the bottom there is another fall into the river bed. Little of this can be seen from the lookout. It s a long trip to the other side of the valley, and not any easy place to get a good photographic souvenir of your visit.
Location: via Lake Leake Highway from either Campbell Town or Swansea. From the cnr of Tasman Highway and Lake Leake Highway, take the latter and travel about 20km to MacKays Road to the south. Follow the signs to Meetus Falls. About 6km along the unsealed access road is the car park for Lost Falls.

Great Oyster Bay

A broad and sheltered bay which opens onto the Tasman Sea in its south, Great Oyster Bay is one of the most scenic stretches of water in Australia. The Tasman Highway runs close to the West Coast of the bay with spectacular views of the rugged granite peaks of the Hazards of the Freycinet Peninsula which are incorporated in the Freycinet National Park, and Schouten and Maria Islands to the south. Sea kayaking in the sheltered waters on the east side of the bay from Coles Bay is very popular, with many small and isolated beaches on the Freycinet Peninsula to explore. Recreational fishing is also popular activity in the bay with flathead, Australian salmon, trevally, trumpeter and squid regularly caught. Dolphins and Australian Fur Seals can often be seen and whales often frequent the bay in winter.

Prior to European settlement the area was occupied by Tasmanian Aborigines. From autumn through winter various bands of the Oyster Bay Tribe congregated around the coastal areas to harvest shellfish and marine vegetables until the end of July, when swans and ducks arrived in the lagoons and riverine areas to lay their eggs and raise their young. Aquaculture has been practiced in the area since the early 1970s. Species cultivated commercially include Pacific oysters, native oysters, mussels, scallops, abalone and sea urchins in the Great Oyster Bay and Mercury Passage. An initial marine farming lease set up in 1978 in Pelican Bay, with additional leases granted for shellfish culture since then in the northern section of Great Oyster Bay and the Swan River.

There are many vantage points along the Tasman Highway between the Coles Bay turn-off and Orford where you can stop and take photographs of this extremly picturesque stretch of water. One of the best, at the top of end of the bay is is just past the Coles Bay turn-off when travelling south, at the village of Apslawn, near Shelbourne Road. From the Great Oyster Bay Lookout you can enjoy a panoramic view across the top end of the bay towards The Hazard Mountains on Freycinet Peninsula.

Gt Oyster Bay and Schouten Island

Not To Miss