For many thousands of years the Melukerdee people were the traditional owners of the land in Tasmania’s south east, including Cygnet. They hunted, fished, lived and loved in this place.
In 1938 the Port Cygnet Cannery was established by frustrated apple farmers who sought to make a better living from the land. The prices they were being offered by private processing companies were below the cost of production.
They decided it was time for action and called a public meeting at Cygnet Town Hall. The government of the day told the meeting that if 100 farmers each put in 10 pounds, they would help them to finance their own processing facility. Within 3 days 100 farmers had agreed and the Cygnet Co-operative Canning Society was born. They successfully operated a thriving business on the site for more than 80 years, while paying farmers double what they’d been previously paid.
Acting together as a community had delivered results!
Over the following decades, the Cygnet Cannery was the bustling centre of the Cygnet community and the local economy. In season up to 100 people worked there, packing and processing fruit for export from the Port Cygnet wharves to the United Kingdom and Europe. Farmers were paid a decent price for their efforts and the community was strong. They celebrated each year with the Cygnet Apple Festival which featured apple wrapping competitions and the crowning of the Apple Queen – presented in 1958 by Olympian Betty Cuthbert.
In 2019, new owners renovated and restored the cannery site, with the aim to do good things for the people and the environment, right here in the Cygnet and Huon Valley region. In 2020, the Cannery, Cumulus Studio and Cygnet Brand Constructions won a Master Builders of Tasmania Award for Excellence for renovation/fit-out over $5 million, noting that it was the “quality of the builder’s work” that made it a standout.
‘Every moment of the restoration process was undertaken with a deep respect to the history of this special place. We up-cycled machinery to build fireplaces, crates to make furniture, kegs to craft tables. To nurture the rich history is integrated into our journey as we build on the Cannery’s story.’
Despite opening our doors for just a few short months prior to the pandemic lockdowns, we have proudly stayed true to our purpose. We have continued to provide employment within the community, supported the local arts and sports through sponsorship. We have also given the community and not-for-profit enterprises free use of our prime event spaces for events that benefit people of the region . We have organised and hosted workshops and events run by experts in their field for local farmers on issues which impact the future of food.
Our journey so far has seen us featured in:
Domain’s ‘Escape to Cygnet: The scenic Tasmanian town comparable to bohemian Byron Bay, without the crowds’.
Good Food’s ‘Ten reasons to visit Tasmania’
The Australian’s ‘What to do in Tasmania’s Huon Valley’
National Geographic’s ‘A culinary guide to Tasmania’s Huon Valley, from apple pie to agritourism’
We’ve provided thousands of locals and visitors with dining experiences featuring delicious food and drink, ranging from intimate and beautifully presented 10 course dinners, to summer evening pizza & table tennis nights with live music. All of this showcases the incredible produce and talent that our region has on offer.