Real Story, Real Cider - the History of Frank's on the Huon

Tasmania's most awarded cider is a cool climate, tree-ripened cider, that's grown from heritage trees in the Huon Valley, entwined with local history.

Frank’s Cider owner Naomie Clarke-Port is proud of the fact her family has been farming here for six generations

Born in 1894, Frank was the third generation of the Clark family to tend the orchards at "Woodside", Franklin, in Tasmania's scenic Huon Valley.  His grandfather was the area’s first permanent white settler. 

Frank lived at Woodside all his life, though he joined the A.I.F. in 1916 and served on the Western Front until 1918 before returning as a war veteran. At that time, pit saws were used for felling gums and horses for working the orchard. The first tractor was only purchased only in 1952. The trees, first planted in 1838, flourished in the rich soil on the banks of the Huon River

Preserving the drink's historic authenticity drives Naomie and her partner Tony, who purchased the heritage-listed former St John's Church Hall and converted it to Frank’s Cider Bar and Cafe.  

The building was the Sunday School for four generations of the Clark Family. These days it is both cellar door and showcase of the social history of Franklin and the local apple industry. Photos of Frank hang on the walls, the Clark name is there on the Military Rolls of Honour and four generations are buried in the adjacent church cemetery.

The building stands proudly opposite the Franklin Working Waterfront Association's Wooden Boat Centre, where artisans of timber ship-building still ply their trade professionally. The Huon Pine in Naomie’s garden is a reminder that the apple industry, timber ships, agriculture and forestry grew together in a region that still works today, very much in the style it did a hundred and fifty years ago. 

The main apple variety used is the old fashioned Golden Delicious, which has crisp sweet flesh. Heritage apples such as Cox's Orange Pippin are also added to the blend. The pears are traditional varieties with high tannin content and produce a pear cider (or perry) with great complexity. The cherry ciders use sweet, dark cherries from neighbouring properties. 

Pears from one tree have been growing on the edge of Clark's Rivulet since the 1830s and might possibly be the oldest pear trees in Australia.  

The Huon Valley’s cool climate allows fruit to mature slowly and develop excellent rich, flavour. Frank often used to say "apples are no good until they've had a few good frosts on them!" 

So the fruit that goes into Frank's Ciders is tree ripened for maximum flavour and some are even harvested from trees he planted over 100 years ago as a war veteran and an old recipe found by the family proved he enjoyed a home brewed cider back then. 

Where other ciders may have had to compromise for volume, Frank's maintains its traditions of tree-ripening and entertain thousands of travellers each year exploring the Huon Valley, including Franklin’s Wooden Boat Centre and the Tahune Airwalk.

Frank used to call Franklin "The Centre of the Apple Universe". These days there are no horses working the orchards, and the pit saws hang on the walls, but the spirit lives on. Naomie’s family is proud to call their cider Frank's and be able to share it all by literally giving people a taste of the Huon Valley’s history. 

Find our more about Frank’s Cider

Order online here:

Find out where you can buy Frank's near you:

Visit the Cider Bar and Cafe (40 minutes south of Hobart) open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm FREE CIDER TASTING

Or perhaps take a day trip to learn all about the region’s history and the story of the Huon Pine and its role in shaping the local economy

Wildiaries • September 2016