View of Cygnet and surrounding valley area
This “Weekend Foodtrail” is located in Cygnet, about 55 km south of Hobart, Tasmania. Cygnet is a small service township in a beautiful part of Huon Valley. The area was previously named Port des Cygnes (Port of Swans) by French explorer Bruni D’Entrecasteaux in 1793, when he saw a large number of black swans in the area, as he sailed up the Huon River towards the bay.
Old Bank building – being renovated as a B&B and Restaurant
Several historic buildings are still intact in the small township, with a population of under 1000 (last census I could find in 1996 is 800+). Cygnet offers an alternative bohemian lifestyle with a few good food and eatery places, a local IGA supermarket, bakery, local butchers and believe it or not, 3 pubs! There are several good producers in the area, including berries, ciders, winery, dairy cattle and Tasmanian saffron, http://www.tas-saff.com.au/index.htm.
Cygnet is not just about food, it is also about arts, crafts and the annual Cygnet Folk Festival, http://www.cygnetfolkfestival.org/, which attracts artists and folk musicians from other states, Europe and America.
When I first moved to Tasmania in 2003, I chose this beautiful country setting away from a busy city lifestyle. Yes, I did have a mid life crisis as I turned 40. I packed my belongings and moved to Tasmania. My friends and family were shocked in disbelief to why I want to move to the southernmost state of Australia. Also, it is the last state in Australia to legalise the gay and lesbian lifestyle in 1980, and most likely predominantly white, non-cosmopolitan and unsafe place for the minority group.
I mean there are lots of other beautiful country towns in the bigger states. Yet I chose to move and live in a remote countryside with a spectacular view of the Huon River, a mere 5 minutes drive from Cygnet. I find the perception of my city slicker friends far from correct as I continue to enjoy and love living here. It is different. Yes, it is not cosmopolitan. But, it is friendly and peaceful and everyone has time for a bit of a chat, including a well-known local chef in the kitchen. I mean where in a big city can you get a friendly and personal touch from a chef. That personal feeling is only found in a small town, when everything is not in a rush and everything has a moment of goodness.
I know. Sorry, I like to blah, blah, blah away. That is why my partner of 15 years has learnt to shut his ears and become immune to me in the evening.
Not many small towns in the country area offer a good eatery place. I remember a friend once said to me before I move here is that it is so difficult to find a good eatery place at night without having to drive a long way. I am fortunate enough that in Cygnet, there is a good restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch everyday and dinner on a weekend, and a local favourite café that serves snacks and lunch only.
When I first ate at the Red Velvet Lounge (RVL) in 2003, it is a local institution with local identities. The place was rustic and the food was freshly prepared by different cooks in the kitchen, and mostly vegetarian meal. However, time has changed and the business was sold about 4 years ago. It was a difficult time for the locals to loose their favourite food institution. The place dwindled in business to survive.
In 2008, the ex-Head Chef of The Peppermint Bay joint the RVL to head the kitchen and also run the restaurant. The locals are delighted and excited about the new prospect and new hope for the RVL. This is a coup for the area. I mean, it is Steven Cumper, who is passionate about food and believes in using local ingredients and produces to create his menu. The place is revitalised. It has a slightly different feel and crowd scene than the original RVL institution. The food is more polish and creative. The place also makes its own sourdough breads, cakes, biscuits, jams and preserves.
RVL is recently reopened on 17 July 2009 after closing for a month to renovate the interior. I have not been there for over a month and eagerly anticipate what has changed to the place and what surprises Steve is going to create in his new lunch and dinner menu. RVL also serves breakfast. It is open everyday from 9am for breakfast and lunch. Dinner on Friday and Saturday from 6pm. Booking phone 6295 0466. It is locate on 24 Mary Street, Cygnet. http://www.theredvelvetlounge.com.au/
Lotus Eaters Cafe – front of the cafe
The beautiful “The Port Hole” building with Lotus Eaters Cafe on the right and a fantastic “Home and Body” shop next door
The next eating place in Cygnet, which is a local favourite and a must is a cozy, little place with three giant rustic wooden apple crates as tables for outdoor seating. This place has a lovely, country charm. It is friendly, warm and unpretentious where you can sit and chat with the locals for that bit of local snippets. The food is good and cooked with care by Gizelle Barton, who used to cook at the original RVL. The place also makes really good sourdough bread and divine pastries.
The place is opened Thursday to Monday for snacks and lunch. It is located on 10 Mary Street, Cygnet. If you are coming out of town, it is best to book a table as it is a small place. Phone 6295 1996.
If you are visiting Huon Valley or Cygnet, do not miss a good cup of coffee, sourdough bread, snack or food at the Red Velvet Lounge or The Lotus Eaters Cafe.
“Happy Travelling and Searching for That Special Place to Visit and Eat”