Richard Cornish samples three of the best Australian oysters from the NSW South Coast, Tasmania and Coffin Bay, South Australia.
Wapengo Rocks Sydney Rock Oysters
On a crystal clear lagoon, surrounded by the forest between Tathra and Bermagui on the New South Wales South Coast a grow rows and rows of oysters. These are Australian native Sydney rock oysters and are indigenous to the coastal waters from Brisbane to the Victorian border. At Wapengo Lake grower Shane Buckley has worked hard with the locals to protect the quality of the water. The local council has sealed the road, the foresters upstream have changed the way the make forest tracks to stop runoff. These and other measures has allowed Buckley’s oysters to be certified organic. The oysters are grown in floating baskets that expose the oysters to air as tides changes developing the meaty adductor muscle. Wapengo rocks oyster are slow grown, well formed, easy to open, creamy with a clean briny finish and exceptionally good with crisp lager, Chablis and champagne.
Coffin Bay Pacific Oysters
Back in the 1840s South Australia had its own native oyster industry with fleets of ships dredging the water around the colony from the Gulf St Vincent around the Eyre Peninsula to Coffin Bay. Back then native angasi oysters had created great reefs that stretched for kilometres and were incredibly biodiverse. Sydney rock oysters were tried in 1937 but didn’t like the cold southern waters. In the 1960s Japanese Pacific oysters were brought from Tasmania and established in South Australia. The industry has not looked back and grows out these large, deep cupped oysters in the azure blue, cool clean waters on the sand banks near Coffin Bay off the Eyre Peninsula. They are generally harvested at 18 months and have a wonderful clean flavour and meaty texture. They are the perfect oyster for beginners and are brilliant with flinty dry white wines from the Barossa Valley. coffinbay.net
St Helens Pacific Oysters
St Helens sits on the shores of Georges Bay just south of the Bay of Fires Conservation Area. This great estuarine lake is open to the sea and fed by the waters of the George River, Launceston Creek, Colchis Creek and smaller creeks and has been home to Pacific oyster farming since the 1960s . Surrounded by bush the oysters are grown in water that is renowned for its quality, something that is checked by government officials frequently. In the upper reaches of Georges Bay is Moulting Bay and here are grown some truly magnificent oysters, known for their size and flavour. More influenced by fresh water they have a very deep, nutty flavour and really lovely texture. Further around Georges Bay the water is more influenced by tidal movements and the oysters have a slightly more briny flavour. These oysters are brilliant with cold climate textural whites such as Bay of Fires Sauvignon Blanc or a nice glass of Arras blancs de noir sparkling wine. oysterstasmania.org