Undated postcard of Swansea (Tasmaniana Library, SLT)
The first Tasmanians came regularly to Swansea, drawn by the mild winters. Tasman, French explorers, and sealers and whalers also came, and The Fisheries at Coles Bay was once a whaling station. In the 1820s the first permanent white settlers were granted land. They saw the swans and named the district Great Swanport. They came by boat – it was twenty years before a road reached the area. Stores, hotels and tradesmen appeared and the town of Swansea was born. It grew slowly, but the farms prospered and substantial stone buildings appeared. In 1860 Swansea became the centre for one of the first rural municipalities in Australia.
Swansea is still a quiet rural town, with many residents descended from the first settlers, and agriculture important. But for over a hundred years visitors have been attracted by the mild climate, the scenic beauty and the friendly people. Swansea is a holiday town.
Further reading: W Davenport & R Amos, Glamorgan Tasmania, Swansea, 1998; L Nyman, The east coasters, Launceston, 1990.