Explore the oyster trail
The Eurobodalla area is part of Australia’s oyster coast with the world’s finest oysters available fresh from the farm gate.
These exceptional oysters are produced locally in three of the most environmentally aware estuaries in the world producing oysters with their own signature taste and appeal. Just as wine regions have a ‘terroir’ depending on their climate and soils, oysters have their own distinctive ‘merroir’ reflecting the essence of the waters in which they live and feed. Taste also varies according to species, seasons and rainfall events.
Australia’s oyster coast is home to three species of premium oysters, each with its own texture and palate.
Each of the oysters from the different regions of Eurobodalla have their own particular flavour, coming as they do from three very diverse estuaries. 'Every estuary, even different leases within an estuary, have a different flavour,
From the deep, fast-flowing Clyde, oysters emerge salty and sweet.
From the shallower Narooma, they're also salty but sharper.
From Tuross Lake, they're ''super creamy and fruity''.
The Sydney Rock oysters from Tuross Lake grow in a barrier system, protected from the ocean and local Tuross growers say their taste varies from bay to bay.
Narooma grower David Maidment says he could certainly tell an oyster from Tuross, where he has also farmed, from one grown in Narooma.
"Tuross oysters are softer and fresher, influenced by the large river that runs from the back of Cooma towards the coast. "
"Generally an oyster grown in a lake such as Tuross, Wagonga or Wapengo will have a lot more flavour than those cultivated in a river. River oysters acquire their particular taste because they experience high salinity being grown to the mouth of the sea and having two flushing tides each day."
You be the judge - try them all
Seafood guru John Susman recently declared that oysters from the Eurobodalla region are “the best in the world”. As co-author of the definitive Australian Fish and Seafood Cookbook written by the most respected authorities on seafood in the country Susman's opinion is compliment indeed.
Oysters take three years to grow, traditionally on the thousands of long sticks which can be seen at low tide on many of the waterways throughout Eurobodalla.
The stick method was introduced in the 1950s and is still carried out today however it is being phased out as local oyster growers change their infrastructure from old tar based sticks to new environmentally friendly recycled plastics.
The work with sticks and with the new basket systems is labour intensive with each oyster stick or basket being moved every year, one by one.
And young oysters don't have an easy time of it. They need protection from fish such as bream, from stingrays and from the sooty oyster catchers, the birds whose elegant long legs and piercing bill are designed to make them an efficient oyster-destroyer when they make just one hole however the new basket systems are offering far better protection to the oyster
The Sydney Rock Oyster
Australia’s prestige native oyster, sought by high-end restaurants the world over for its uniqueness and incredible taste. Found only along the south-eastern Australian coastline, the Rock Oyster is distinguished by its creamy, firm texture. It is one of the cleanest oysters in the world and the saltiness is slight, leaving a fresh, mellow aftertaste on the palate that is unique.
The Angasi Oyster
The rare flat native oyster of Australia – farmed exclusively for hand-picked outlets across Australia and Asia. Full of flavour and texture, the Angasi Oyster is very rich and meaty. Difficult to come by due to its scarcity, the Angasi is truly special. In best condition, they are plump, full bodied and have a stronger flavour than other species.
The Pacific Oyster
The Pacific Oyster was introduced into Australia from Japan. Grown under carefully managed environmental conditions to five different export sizes, the Pacific Oyster is the most prolifically grown oyster in Australia. It is characterised by its fresh, clean and salty flavour. Plump in size, the Pacific Oyster leaves a clean, fresh aftertaste.
With three different oyster species and eight estuaries across 300 kilometres, Australia’s Oyster Coast produces premium oysters all year round. Seasonally, Sydney Rock oysters are usually at their peak during the warmer months; Pacific oysters can be enjoyed throughout the year; and Angasi oysters are at their best in winter.
The Clyde River
The Clyde (Bhundoo) River was named by Alexander Berry after the famous Scottish river and was discovered it to be navigable in 1854 opening it the area up for settlement.
Oyster farming began on the Clyde around 1860. Today twenty two farms produce the much loved Sydney rock oyster, which is considered by many connoisseurs to be the finest in the world.
Clyde River oysters are available at the Farmgate to sample at their finest from these outlets:
The Oyster Shed on Wray Street The Last Shed on Wray St, Batemans Bay
Pearly Oyster Bar 6 North St, Batemans Bay, (02) 4472 7288
One of the best ways to learn about the local cultivation techniques, the science behind farming, oyster varieties and life as an oyster farmer is to book into an Oyster Kayak Tour and be treated, eating the freshest oysters you can, taken from the river that morning.
The Oyster Kayak Tour starts with introduction of the equipment and paddle practice, prior to slipping onto the calm smooth waters of the Clyde river in your double sea kayak.
Oysters On Sticks:
As you explore Tuross Lake you will still see thousands of oyster growing sticks lying neatly in the water at low tide. Tuross oyster farmers have prepared them by nailing together of 25mm x 25 mm x 2 metre hardwood sticks into frames about 2 metres x 1 metre with around 12 sticks in each frame nailed about 25mm apart.
These are wired together in bundles of around 7 frames and dipped in hot tar to prevent the sticks from rotting in the river and to make it easier to knock the oysters off when they are ready for collection. Using the stick method of cultivation, each oyster farmer lays out at least 15000 sticks each year.
Oysters from Tuross Lakes grow in a barrier system, protected from the ocean and local Tuross growers say their taste can vary from bay to bay. Best to try them all.
Ask for Tuross Lake oysters at The Tern Inn, Pickled Octopus, Tuross Boatshed Cafe, Tuross Service Station, Tuross Supermarket and Tuross Head Country Club. They are also featured on the menu at The River Restaurant, Moruya.
The Narooma Oyster Festival, held every year in May, celebrates South Coast NSW oysters and our region’s best from farmgates up and down the coast. You can also take a guided tour on the Wagonga Inlet with Narooma Oyster Tours 0413849886
Wagonga Inlet has stunning oysters that are available to sample year round from the farmgates located in town and just out of town on the western Inlet foreshore.
Narooma Oysters are sold and served at The Oyster Farmer’s Daughter at 279 Riverview Rd, North Narooma
~ JF Ritchie Oyster Farmer Farm Gate Sales Barlows Bay, Riverview Road, NAROOMA. phone ahead 0438 205 237
~ Australian Native Shellfish Farm Gate Sales Barlows Bay, Riverview Road, NAROOMA. Call ahead 0419 122 988
~ Narooma Bridge Seafoods Oyster Sales at the bridge, Princes Highway, Narooma
Narooma Oysters are also served at The Quarterdeck Restaurant, Riverview Road, Narooma, The Whale Motel, Narooma and available at other outlets across the town