The Purple Swamphen

  • We acknowledge the traditional custodians of Tasmania & Flinders Island: the palawa people, who have a rich culture reaching back thousands of years. We pay respects to elders past, present, and emerging; and welcome representatives of other indigenous cultures.
  • We acknowledge that we are all custodians of our planet for future generations.

Opening Hours

Wednesdays, Fridays 10 - 4
Saturdays 10-12


9 Lagoon Rd, Whitemark, Flinders Island, Tasmania.

We're in the old Killiecrankie Enterprises building, on the right as you arrive in Whitemark, across the road from Roberts Nutrien Rural Supplies.

History of the Swamphen

The concept for the 'Hen began in April 2014 when two friends, Helen and Mel, decided that the island needed a space for local arts & crafts to be promoted and retailed to other lovers of handmade treasures. Helen had just started roasting coffee under the banner Furneaux Coffee, and Mel had just started playing about with screen and lino printing. A suitable nest was found in Whitemark, next to the local cafe. The friends' love of vintage and upcycling saw the shop kitted out with retro furniture and the all-important record player. They rounded up the local creatives and encouraged them to get crafty in preparation for the grand opening. In June 2014 the Swamphen hatched, and the little swampy chick started to grow.

The following two years saw the 'Hen grow and develop, and become known as a premier destination for handmade gifts and homewares on Flinders Island. In July 2016 Mel took on the business solo to allow Helen to focus on her coffee roasting (which, to be honest, is a much more important business for us coffee-lovers!)

In July 2020 the Swamphen changed again (apparently it's a good month for new feathers), moving next door into a larger, lighter space. Apparently a global pandemic is a perfect time to spread your wings and see how far you can fly.

purple swamphen bird plumage
A purple swamphen showing its beautiful plumage and huge feet. Image by Toby Hudson, from Wikimedia Commons.

Why a Purple Swamphen?

We like birds. Swamphens are a particular favourite as they're full of personality, a little ungainly, sometimes raucous, and are often found hanging around in the wetlands a hundred metres from our door. It's pretty hard to get a good photo of one without a telephoto lens though! They don't mind traffic driving past but get a bit agitated when one stops nearby. That's when you see the classic tail flick and employment of those loooong legs to stalk off to somewhere there's no paparazzi.