Museum all about the apple

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 28 Juli 2013 | 19.55

TASMANIA'S fast-growing cider industry will take another leap forward later this year, with the Willie Smith company announcing a $250,000 plan to develop the Huon Apple Museum into a tourist launchpad to the valley.

The development will include detailed exhibitions about the apple industry's history, with artefacts dating back to the mid-1800s, as well as cider displays, a tasting bar and a providore-style shopfront featuring local produce.

The redesign will be overseen by Futago, the Tasmanian firm that worked on the redevelopment of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Willie Smith's co-owner Andrew Smith described taking ownership of the museum's rich history as a huge responsibility, but said he planned for the revamped attraction to become a "must visit" destination for tourists to the state and a key stop on Tasmania's new Cider Trail.

"This is very much a two-stage project, but we are excited that we are going to produce something the valley is going to be proud of," Mr Smith said.

"The first stage involves developing the cafe, museum and cider-tasting area, and providing visitors with a really clear story of the Huon.

"The second stage is to make it an experience destination, which will involve some of the neighbours and incorporate the nearby dam, blueberry farm, heritage orchard and our own farm."

Entry to the museum will be free, with retired orchardists on hand to conduct expert tours, while in summer visitors will be offered the chance to pick cherries and apples straight from the tree. Mr Smith said the nascent Cider Trail was further proof of the health and potential of the Tasmanian cider scene, made possible, he said, by riding on the coat tails of the popular wine and whisky industries.

He said that the mixture of vineyards, distilleries and cideries was providing tourists with value for their trip to the state, and well as offering hope for Tasmania's once-mighty apple-growing sector.

Fellow Willie Smith's Cider co-owner Sam Reid said Tasmania was now offering visitors a critical mass of attractions to keep them in the state longer and draw them to regions like the Huon Valley.

"We want a space that the local people can feel a strong connection to their community and re-familiarise themselves with the history and heritage of the Huon Valley," he said.

The apple museum will remain closed to the public during its facelift, and is expected to reopen in November.

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