We arise early for our scenic drive to Swansea, about 2 hours and 15mins drive from Port Arthur. Swansea is a small town located halfway between Hobart and Launceston on Tasmania’s east coast and overlooks Freycinet National Park
Kate’s Berry Farm
Before we arrive in the heart of Swansea, we take a pitt stop at Kate’s Berry Farm. Located 3 km south of the Swansea township, you couldn’t ask for a more scenic position – her shop overlooks rows of berries to breathtaking views across Great Oyster Bay!
Kate warmly greets us and her passion and enthusiasm for her business is immediately evident. She began her berry farm in the late 80s, seeing an opportunity to make the most of Tasmania’s cool climate berries (at the time the only berries sold on the East Coast were imported from interstate). It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Kate due to being regarded as an “outsider” by the close knit community (she was originally from Victoria), a fair dose of sexism (a female farmer?!) and budget issues, but her Berry Farm is the result of hard work, perseverance and a lot of business savvy
Her original store was a fraction of the size it is today, and she initially sold only jams and ice creams. Today she creates a huge array of jams (with sugar-free options), chocolates, sauces, jellies, sorbet and desserts including freshly baked hot scones, waffles and fruit pies.
Here I am looking very happy with my jar of Mingleberry Jam – it’s one of her bestsellers and contains raspberries, strawberries and blackberries.
We continue our drive to the heart of Swansea, taking a quick photo stop at The Spiky Bridge. Constructed in 1843 by convicts, this bridge’s unique spiky design is allegedly to stop cows from falling off the bridge into the gully below. So there you go.
We explore Swansea’s township on a gorgeous sunny day, and thoroughly enjoy poking through its’ shops and spending up a storm!
I had a great time in Posh Garage, and came out with a vintage set of kitchen scales, teacup and apron.
We also discovered lovely local arts and crafts at Onyx Providore, and I bought a beautifully handcrafted Huon Pine rolling pin. And before we knew it, it was lunch time.
The Ugly Duck Out
We are greeted warmly by Robyn, who explains The Ugly Duck Inn serves fresh local produce, offering a menu full of globally-inspired cuisine made with organic, GM free, fair trade food.
My friend selects the Fish of the Day ($19), and despite it being lunch time, I can’t go past their famous all-day breakfast. The Quesadilla ($20) features local bacon, egg, cheese and chilli beans between two tortillas. It’s fried until crispy hot and served with sour cream and smoked chilli salsa.
We also got to sample some amazing local Tasmanian ice cream from Pyengana – the flavours were bush pepper, wattle seed, lemon myrtle, chocolate and red berry sorbet. So unique and so quintessentially Tasmanian! Alas there was no stomach room for Robyn’s amazing-looking apple pie :(
Rocky Hills Retreat
We drive out of Swansea to check into our accommodation, Rocky Hills Retreat, for the night. We nervously drive our hire car 2 kilometres up a gravelly dirt driveway, wondering where on earth we’re heading, and if our car will actually make it to the top.
The ocean gets further and further away until we are on top of the mountain, surrounded by bush.
Eventually a structure appears in the distance and we whoop with joy. It also looks like a compound and we curiously open the front door to see what lays inside…
…and it’s nothing short of amazing. Windows wrap around 3/4 of the building, showing off its’ gorgeous views of 250 acres of Tasmanian bush and the ocean in the distance. The bed is a plush king size bed with a curtain hanging from the ceiling to separate you from the open plan layout if need be.
There is a large dining area and modern kitchen filled with thoughtful provisions such as tea, coffee, muesli with yogurt, fresh fruit, eggs and bacon. The lounge area is perfect for relaxing and enjoying the stunning scenery, but if you get bored of that, there is a carefully curated selection of books and music to keep you entertained.
We also got a complimentary bottle of champagne! We popped the cork and then assembled ourselves a cheese board to indulge a little before dinner (as clearly we hadn’t done enough eating or drinking on the trip…)
We took our glasses of champagne outside and filled the custom built Huon Pine bath tub with water outside on the deck to splash our feet in. This is the life!
We then head to our private fully equipped art studio (yes, really) set in an old church, located just 300 metres away.
It has stunning stained glass windows, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and is decked out with equipment for you to draw, paint, sculpt, knit, read or simply just relax.
I awoke the next morning to watch the sunrise from bed, it was truly spectacular.
I also got to practice some morning yoga, thanks to the yoga mats thoughtfully provided. It truly was the most incredible and indulgent place I have ever stayed at. Next time I need at least a week!
The Banc Restaurant
Dinner tonight is at The Banc, a Modern Australian restaurant offering up dishes based around local produce from Tasmania’s East Coast.
The food was outstanding, we started off with a prawn and minted-pea risotto with charred lemon snow pea tendrils ($14.50) to share, and I swear I could have eaten 4 plates of this. Both our mains were similarly impressive, with a 220 g Eye fillet steak with twice-baked goat’s cheese soufflé, red wine glazed shallots, asparagus spears and jus ($32) and the pan-roasted chicken breast with honey truffle pistachios, parmesan herb custard and glazed Dutch carrots ($28).
We were full and could barely finish our mains, but I soldiered on and ordered dessert. The strawberry cheesecake ($9.50) was heavenly, not too sweet and with crunchy pieces of white chocolate throughout.
We were treated to a lovely sunset on our last night in Swansea.
Felicity’s Antiques, Vintage & Tea Room
We go to Felicity’s for a late breakfast the next day, and arrive at a gorgeous house with panoramic views of the ocean.
The house is stuffed full with antiques, vintage fashion and bric-a-brac to poke through. Felicity’s is run by a lovely couple, and while we didn’t get to meet Felicity herself, her husband was more than happy to take care of us. The homemade food is superb and he was very friendly.
As we were approaching morning tea time, we order rare beef sandwiches and a ham, cheese and tomato toastie. Both are simple and delicious and hit the spot. I can never turn down a scone, and soon tea arrives, along with jam and cream served in seashells!
We get back in the car and drive 1.5 hours to our final destination, Richmond. Richmond is regarded as Tasmania’s most important historic town, famous for its Georgian architecture. We explored galleries, teashops, boutique stores and museums and indulged in some local food and wine (of course).
Apparently Gollywogs are now a thing again (at least in Richmond), we saw them in quite a few stores! Sweets and Treats is an old school lolly store packed full of nostalgic delights.
My favourite store was Ally and Me, and it was filled to the brim with Funkis, terrariums and jewellery strung from tree branches. It was like a little bit of Paddington in Richmond.
We then walk to the iconic Richmond Bridge. Built in 1823 by convicts, Richmond Bridge is Australia’s oldest bridge still in use. The bridge is picture-perfect and framed with purple agapanthus plants.
We finish the afternoon off at Richmond Wine Centre, enjoying a few glasses of wine and a tasty meal in the outdoor dining area. We ate bruschetta topped with tomato salsa ($9), Barilla Bay oysters (½ dozen for $17.00), a fresh garden salad with chicken ($17) and fries ($6). We then head to the airport and sadly bid Tasmania adieu!
This Tasmania adventure was one of the most amazing and memorable trips I’ve ever taken and I hope I’ve inspired you to check out this beautiful state as well! There is still so much I want to experience in Tassie, and I am sure I will be back soon.
Love Swah + 1 travelled, ate & stayed courtesy of Tourism Tasmania