03 July, 2019

Beyond Cygnet’s folk festival, from gorgeous galleries to sensational cider

This tasty, artistic town is one reason why the Huon Valley’s so hot right now.

The little town of Cygnet is a four-hour drive from Devonport but only 50 kilometres south-west of Hobart, so put it on your wishlist for a daytrip from the capital. In fact, why not stay overnight and continue exploring this scrumptious region.

In 1793, French explorer Bruni D'Entrecasteaux named this spot Port des Cygnes after the black swans he saw. An orchard planted by British settlers in 1823 soon led to Cygnet becoming a flourishing fruit-growing centre. Although it’s now also a haven for musicians, artists and modern-day hippies, that’s still true. Cygnet’s bounty, including cherries, berries and apples, is integral to the Huon Valley’s gourmet fame, and delicious destinations like Fat Pig Farm and Hartzview Vineyard are nearby.

What to see and do

The best time to visit is during the Cygnet Folk Festival, held every second weekend in January since 1982. It swells the town’s population of 1,600 many times over, attracting musicians and visitors from around the world. Not into folk music? Then check out the other acts, from dance to poetry, and local handicrafts, art, food and drinks. Another good time to swing by is during the annual Easter Handmade in Cygnet Open Studio Art Trail.

Cygnet Folk Festival (Image: Cygnet Folk Festival)

Descendants of those 18th century swans continue to thrive, especially in the Port Cygnet Conservation Area. This 100 hectares on the Huon River estuary is a sanctuary for many waterbirds including sea eagles, terns and egrets, as well as fish and amphibians. An even easier option for waterfront strolls and picnics is Burtons Reserve at the town’s edge.

Port Cygnet (Image: Tourism Tasmania & Arcade Publications)

Eat and drink

Unsurprisingly, Cygnet has great options for tasting the Huon Valley’s best. Cygnet Woodfired Bakehouse is ideal for quick bites, including coffee and sweet pastries, or filling picnic baskets with savoury tarts, fresh bread and more.

Want to linger? Try Old Bank Conservatory Cafe, the lovely, light-filled extension of a handsome 19th century building. In this alternative-lifestyle town, vegetarians and vegans are well looked after at the popular Red Velvet Lounge, whose warm welcome includes an open fire, live music on Friday nights and, yes, red velvet armchairs.

Old Bank Conservatory Cafe (Image: Cygnet Old Bank)

The Commercial Hotel is a lovely old country pub offering quality meals, beers and beds too. If you’re fond of a tipple don’t miss Pagan Cider, where local fruit is transformed into traditional apple brews, as well as pear and cherry ciders. Have a taste or even a glass or two at the cellar door, where you’ll likely also find seasonal, small-batch creations such as quince cider.

Pagan Cider (Image: Pagan Cider)


Enjoying the region’s deliciousness doesn’t have to be just of the moment. Buy ingredients for a feast at your accommodation or gourmet products for home at shops like Cygnet Garden Larder. If you’re here on the first or third Sunday of the month, Cygnet Market’s a must for local food and crafts.

Cygnet Markets (Image: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett)

There’s more to the old bank building than that light-filled cafe. It’s also home to Cygneture Chocolates, makers of award-winning treats that look and taste exquisite. There’s Three Twigs too, for pretty fashion, homewares and gifts, and Paddock to Garment, where you’ll find gorgeous shawls hand-woven using alpaca fleece and silk raised and spun by the owner.

Other hot spots for local creativity include Lovett Gallery, a showcase for the Huon Art Exhibitions Group’s work, from photography to ceramics, and quirky Cobweb Designs, which also gathers regional creativity. Discover Richard Stanley’s peaceful landscapes at his studio/art gallery, and see which artists, designers and craftspeople have opened their studios at heritage Balfour House.

Richard Stanley Gallery (Image: Richard Stanley)


Information included in this blog is correct at the time of publishing. Please contact individual operators for further information.

Book now

Come aboard and experience the joys of sailing for yourself. Book now

Geelong Terminal

Discover Spirit of Tasmania Quay, Geelong, the new Victorian home of Spirit of Tasmania. Geelong Terminal


Read our latest blogs on experiences in Tasmania and the mainland Discover
Close Window