The village of Cygnet in the heart of the Huon Valley, 50 minutes south of Hobart, was once a centre of Tasmania’s apple industry. Today it’s popular for its cafes, galleries, antique and curio stores and local artisans, ranging from potters to wooden spoon carvers.
Cygnet, Tasmania, has gained fame because of the Gourmet Farmer TV series (host Matthew Evans runs a restaurant and cooking school just out of town) and is known for its laidback lifestyle and local produce. You can find seasonal fruits and vegetables for sale at roadside “honesty” stalls. Its eclectic residents range from former Greens leader and environmentalist Bob Brown to former Home and Away star Lisa Gormley.
The town hosts the Cygnet Folk Festival over three days each January, when it quadruples in size, and a popular market is held on the first and third Sundays of each month.
The bay on which Cygnet sits was named Port des Cygnes (Port of Swans) by French navigator Bruni D’Entrecasteaux in 1793.
Top hotels in Cygnet
Cygnet Old Bank is a National Trust-listed 1909 building on the main street. With its rooms completely refurbished, it is a delightful country town retreat with three stylish, beautifully appointed rooms overlooking the town square. The property has several private rooms in which guests can enjoy a read, a boardgame or a complimentary glass of port, and there are several outdoor areas as well as an on-site orchard.
For those with more rustic tastes, check out Huon Valley View Cabin, a delightfully quiet escape with dramatic views over the Huon River that often rents for under $100 a night.
Cygnet has dozens of Airbnb and Stayz properties, but two of the chicest places to stay are the Frenchman’s River cottages – beautifully equipped and owned by novelist and McLeod’s Daughter creator Posie Graeme-Evans – and Coast House, a private, adults-only retreat overlooking the water and surrounded by orchards, vineyards and small farms in beautiful surroundings.
There is also a town caravan park and campsite, and Cygnet is home to a massage and natural therapies studio, Earth Mother Natural Health, as well as several yoga schools.
Cygnet’s stellar restaurants and eateries
For those with a taste for something stronger there are two pubs in Cygnet: Cygnet Hotel and Commercial Hotel, colloquially known as the Top Pub and Bottom Pub.
Just out of town is Pagan Cider, which uses the region’s apples to make a range of refreshing drinks, including cherry-flavoured cider. Cygnet Old Bank and the Red Velvet Lounge are both licensed and serve a range of local wines and ciders, in addition to coffees and teas.
The Huon Valley is also home to several outstanding small producers of cool-climate wines, with Elsewhere Vineyard having recently opened a new cellar door overlooking the Huon River. Other wine producers in and around Cygnet include Sailor Seeks Horse and Chatto, both of which require appointments for tastings, and Two Bud Spur.
Cygnet is full of lunch options but it’s much quieter at night, when the two pubs are the best bet for a meal.
The Red Velvet Lounge is open on Thursday evenings for a range of vegetarian curries, and on Friday nights for veggie pizza and live music. During the daytime it draws crowds for its vegetarian and vegan dishes and relaxed ambience (the courtyard is very popular in summer).
Bars and cafes in Cygnet
Jacky’s Cafe offers simple dishes to go, while the Lovett Café is known for its burgers.
Lotus Eaters has a rustic vibe and delicious pot pies, curries, tarts and cakes, while the Conservatory Café at Cygnet Old Bank has a good range of country-style dishes and desserts. The School House Coffee shop specialises in home-made pies (try the duck and pear) and freshly made scones with jam and cream.
Cygnet Woodfired Bakehouse is known for its artisan sourdough breads and pastries, while many visitors try to get a spot at Fat Pig Farm, where Evans serves degustation lunches at a communal table featuring meat and vegetables grown on the farm, washed down with local beverages. It can be booked out for months in advance.
More foodie feasts can be found in nearby Beaupre Peninsula, home to a fabulous remote retreat. Read about it here.