The vibrant country town of Cygnet, just a 50 minute drive south from Hobart, sits prettily sandwiched between the d’Entrecasteaux Channel and the Huon River. This beautiful region features interesting French heritage: in 1793, French navigator Bruni d’Entrecasteaux named the bay on which Cygnet sits Port des Cygnes (Port of Swans), due to the large number of black swans in the area. Today, the town is known for its creative people, and is home to artists, writers, photographers, and all kinds of colourful folk. Cygnet hosts some much loved events throughout the year, so if you can time your visit with one of the town’s eclectic festivals or its vibrant market, then even better! Here are four reasons to visit.
1. The Cygnet Folk Festival
The annual Cygnet Folk Festival is one of Australia’s most iconic folk music festivals. This year will be the 36th festival, and is on from 12 – 14 January 2018. The festival showcases eclectic music genres and features a stellar lineup of local and international performers. During festival week, Cygnet becomes a hive of activity, with events including: music, dance, poetry, circus, comedy, cabaret, masterclasses, workshops, film, food, wine, art, local handicrafts, and children’s entertainment. Enjoy the music and festivities, while admiring the breathtaking scenery of the Huon Valley.
2. The Cygnet Market
Cygnet’s vibrant country market offers a taste of the region’s fine fresh food, produce, music, art and craft. It is one of the larger markets in the area, with around 50 regular stalls. It’s on every first and third Sunday of the month, from 10am to 2pm, at the Cygnet Town Hall. Search for treasure, tap your foot along to the live music, taste the local eats, and have a chat with some friendly local characters.
3. Le Tour de Cygnet
Cygnet has deep connections to famed French explorers Bruni D’Entrecasteaux, Jacques Labillardiere, Huon de Kermandec and Nicolas Baudin. In 2016 and 2017, Le Weekend at Cygnet festival celebrated the town’s rich French history with French food, wine, films, sailing, cars, art, live music, markets and cycling. Unfortunately there won’t be a “Le Weekend” in 2018, but the good news is there will be Le Tour de Cygnet! Whip out your fanciest lycra, as Sunday 18 February is the big day!
Le Tour is a challenge, rather than a race or a competition, and someone will win a specialised bike from Bike Ride, Hobart. There’s something for everyone, with a range of options to choose from: the 70km endurance route along the Channel Highway and back via Oyster Cove Hill; the 20km family ride from Cygnet to the bottom of Oyster Cove Hill; or the 8km child-safe ride from Cygnet along the tranquil back route, Slab Road, and back. Enjoy the freedom of the wind in your hair (beneath your helmet of course!) as you fly along. Best of luck!
4. Explore the Town
The scenery is so beautiful and the town is so colourful that exploring it is an absolute delight. Art lovers, check out the craft shops, art studios, and galleries, including Phoenix Creations, Cobweb Designs & Gallery, Stanley Gallery, and the Lovett Gallery. There are some top notch spots to fill your belly, including the Red Velvet Lounge and the Cygnet Woodfired Bakehouse. You can also hit up the Cygnet Twilight Feast, a monthly family-friendly dinner with friends in the Cygnet Town Hall that is designed to help support local community groups. If you’re keen to spend a few days (or longer) exploring at your leisure, Frenchmans River Cygnet is a stunning place to stay.
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