This year, though, expect one of our best loved restaurant starting dishes and aquacultural exports to get the recognition it deserves. As part of a grand plan, an industry association of 100 environmentally aware oyster farmers is creating an oyster trail running 300km along the pristine coastline of the NSW South Coast, from the Shoalhaven to Wonboyn Lake, near the Victorian border.
“It’s creating a whole experience,” says fifth-generation oyster farmer Ben Ralston. “All the way down you are going to be able to pull up and have an oyster experience, but it’s not only about oyster farmers, it’s about (the rest of the) community as well.”
He says tourism, both domestic and international, will highlight the bivalve through a tasting trail, canoe tours and boat trips to add to existing oyster shed sales.
“Australia’s Oyster Coast is probably going to be the most exciting big venture that’s happened here because we are going for the regional brand,” he says. “It’s in pretty natural form at the moment but you have to start somewhere.”
Ewan McAsh from McAsh oysters says another level of education will be to get more mid-level Sydney restaurants to shuck their own.
“It’s all part of giving people a better oyster experience,” he says. “The convenience of a pre-shucked oyster is no good for anyone, it’s not a good oyster to eat, it’s not good for the farmer. It doesn’t do justice to the oyster really.”