Explore the Huon Valley would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the Huon Valley and far south region, the Tahuni lingah and Melukerdee People. We would like to recognise their continual connection to land, water and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.
Having first been settled by Europeans in 1834, Cygnet is older than Melbourne, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. European settlement caused large scale dispossession and depopulation of Tasmanian Aboriginal populations. Issues included conflict with settlers and sealers over resources, the abduction of Aboriginal women, and exposure to foreign disease. During the 1830s the remaining Aboriginal population were removed to Wybalenna on Flinders Island where they were housed in ‘gaol-like’ conditions and children were removed to the Orphan School, Hobart.
By 1843 a community was well established at Port Cygnet and the apple industry up and running. By1863 the Parish of Cygnet had been established and Father James Holehan took charge. John Wilson founded a proud boatbuilding business and built vessels in various areas of the bay around Cygnet. For many years his yard was located at Martins Point where the sailing club now stands.
- The Palais Theatre - Once the local Town Hall, the Palais theatre was built in 1911. It has been revitalised and has become an integral part of the town's cultural life.
- Franklin Lockup - The Lock Up is located on the river side of the main street. A sign on the side of the small building explains: "This small double cell block, locally known as the 'Franklin Lockup', is one of several 19th century cells of similar design that existed in the Huon Valley. It is very likely that the lockup was built by Alexander Adams in July 1889 and designed as a portable holding cell for short-term use."
- Ye Old Franklin Tavern - Located on the main street of Franklin is a historic pub which was established in 1853. Its relied on the town's jetty to bring in trade which was used for shipping timber and fruit from the area. The hotel serves as a reminder of the importance of the town when it existed as a port on the Huon River.
- Geeveston Visitor Centre - The community run Geeveston Visitor Centre is aimed at keeping the farming and forestry history of the Huon Valley alive. The top floor of the visitor centre boasts a large collection of tools and machinery collected by the Geeveston Archives and Historical Society over many years.
- The Apple Museum - Situated inside Willie Smiths Apple Shed, the apple museum displays a vast history of apple growing the Huon Valley region - a farming practice for which it is still renowned today.
- The Huon River - The Huon river was first explored by a foreign party lead by Bruni d'Entrecasteaux in 1792, and subsequently named the Huon River. According to documentation it was determined that local Aboriginals were not settled in this area of the Huon Valley at that time. However is has been stated that when d'Entrecasteaux entered the Huon River at Cygnet his party made contact with an Aboriginal girl, Oura-Oura.
Recherche Bay and cockle creek
It has only been in relatively recent years over the past decade that the significance of this area has been recognised as a site of national and historic significance.
“It is difficult to express the sensations we felt at finding ourselves at length sheltered in this solitary harbour at the extremity of the globe”. Jacques-Julien Labillardiere in his diary of 1792 when the French expedition ships “Recherche” and “Esperence” first anchored in Recherche Bay.
The first known scientific research undertaken in Australia was carried out at Recherche Bay. It is understood that Tasmanian Aboriginals and the French explorers knew a friendly relationship whereby joyous social gatherings were regularly shared.
For further reading as you explore, we recommend: