Port of Swans - Cygnet, Tasmania

cygnet anchorage view We've been anchored the last few days in Port Cygnet, tucked away in an arm off the eastern shore of the Huon River. The bay was originally named Port des Cygnes (Port of Swans) in 1793 by French explorer, Bruni d'Entrecasteaux (for whom the D'Entrecasteux Channel and Bruny Island were named) because of all the native black swans in the area. We stopped here last March on our way up the coast from Port Davey en route to Kettering. We enjoyed its small town charm so much, we thought it was worth another stop.

That begs the question, what makes Cygnet charming? For a sailor, having a large, well-protected bay with good holding is important. Having the friendly Port Cygnet Sailing Club nearby is a wonderful plus, providing a place to tie up the dinghy safely. It's about a 20 minute, very pleasant walk into town and there's a gas station along the way. There's a supermarket, a hardware store, a post office, a bottle shop, a bank. All these things make Cygnet convenient, but not necessarily charming.

cygnet honesty box

Charming creeps up on you when you walk along the bay into town and see fruit and veggie stands offering bags of whatever is in season with an honesty box for your money. Cherries are in season and we bought some. Charming is Cygnet's main street, Mary Street (aka the Channel Highway), lined with little boutiques and friendly, inviting little cafes that beckon you to come in. Little touches of nostalgia peek out at you from shop windows. An historical mural on the side of Cowen's Drapery & Haberdashery is particularly striking and gives you a feel for the history of the town.

cygnet market

It's an artsy-craftsy kind of place, a place where hippies would have hung out in the 1960s. Several artists and craftsmen haven taken up residence here. The community is art savvy and supportive and frequently has art exhibits in its little town hall. The Cygnet Folk Festival will be on this coming weekend. Since 1982, this folk fest has been drawing entertainers and crowds of up to 5,000 people to this tiny village. Unfortunately, it's an expensive venture ($80/pp/weekend) and we need to get a move-on anyway, so we'll give it a pass.

Red Velvet

The first European settler in the district was William Nichols in 1834. His grandson, John Wilson, established a shipbuilding business at Port Cygnet in the mid-19th century and the business still exists today. Their ad in the Yellow Pages reads: Wilson Brothers - Wooden Boat Construction Specialists Since 1863.

Twice a month, there is a small, but lively Farmer's Market in town and our timing was excellent. We wandered past tables and stalls of crafts, baked goods and fresh produce, purchasing what we needed for the coming week.

the Creamers

We stopped at the Red Velvet Lounge for a coffee. It's an interesting place … red velvet arm chairs and sofas lend credibility to its name. With a population less than 1,000 people, Cygnet is a friendly, everyone-knows-everyone town and there was the hum of amicable chat inside and outside of the cafe as we sipped and observed our surroundings on a sunny Sunday morning. I wanted a photo of a red velvet sofa, but they were all occupied. I asked a woman sitting on one if she'd mind if I snapped a photo. “No problem” she said “shall I drink my cuppa for the photo?” What started as a simple photo request soon became an animated conversation. It turns out the Creamers are from Western Australia and we've an invitation to call them when we're in their neck of the woods.

cygnet boat races

Having moved Cups we were able to watch the Sunday afternoon boat races without impeding the contestants. Friends John & Marcia stopped by to bid us adieu. Craig, the snake and raptor man, stopped by as well with an invitation to catch a snake at a local residence. We were psyched for this opportunity, but the snake was nowhere to be seen when we arrived, though Craig did his best to find him.

cygnet snake hunting

The horrendous bushfires raging out of control in Tasmania have taken their toll in this area in the form of dense smoke. The boat has been covered in gray soot and the normally clear, clean air has been thick and hazy for days, like looking at the bay through gauze. The smell of fire and woodsmoke is ever-present. Hopefully they will burn themselves out soon before there is more destruction and loss of lives.


Days and Ways to Celebrate

A daily list of mostly obscure holidays and fun ways to celebrate them.

Elvis' Birthday

Celebrate the King's birthday by dancing to “You Ain't Nothin' But a Hound Dog”, “Blue Suede Shoes” or “All Shook Up". Or maybe watch one of his 31 flicks like “Blue Hawaii” or “Viva Las Vegas”.