Undated postcard of Cygnet (Tasmaniana Library, SLT)
Cygnet was named by d'Entrecasteaux in 1793, after the swans he saw there. William Nichols was the first permanent settler in the Huon, receiving his land grant at Cygnet in 1829, and the 1842 census showed 17 people living in the area. In the 1840s convict probation stations were established at Port Cygnet, Lymington, Nicholls Rivulet and Huon Island, and 333 convicts were stationed in the district.
More settlers arrived, and from the 1850s fruit-growing, timber-getting, coal mining (at Gardners Bay) and boat-building by John Wilson and Sons supported the district. The town of Lovett was proclaimed in 1862 (renamed Cygnet in 1915), churches and schools were built, and a regatta was held annually from 1863 until the 1950s. One jam manufacturer, and later one apple-drying, canning and juice factory and two canning-only factories provided employment; one, community-owned, still operates. From the 1970s many alternative-lifestylers moved to Cygnet, which in 2004 had a population of about 3000.
Further reading: www.shoal.net.au/~tomwills/cygnet.