Take a Bight of Eyre Peninsula
TrueBlue Magazine - June/July 2019
Take one glance at any of Australia’s many beautiful beaches, mesmerising coastlines and pristine oceans, and you’ll understand why 85 per cent of the country’s population choose to reside within 50 kilometres of the seaside, and relish in an enviable coastal lifestyle.
This oceanic obsession goes hand-in-hand with Australia’s burgeoning tourism and food industries, which today, as more and more people become fascinated with where their food comes from, increasingly merges recreational and commercial activities.
For most Australians it should come as no surprise that dining on seafood and fishing have become key aspects of Australian life – both result in enjoyable days spent in or near the ocean. Indeed, fishery and aquaculture production in the country is now valued at $3.06 billion and continues to grow, which is testament to the global appetite for quality Australian seafood.
At the forefront of Australia’s fishing industry is the Eyre Peninsula region – where whiting, snapper, tuna, crabs, squid and oysters can be transferred from the ocean to your plate on the same day.
The far west coast region of the Eyre Peninsula offers impeccable conditions for aquaculture with its pristine waters, sheltered bays and upwellings from the Great Australian Bight – perfect for oyster growing and ideal for exploring while gaining insight into one of the country’s biggest industries. In fact, the seafood here is so good that the fishing aquaculture sectors of the Eyre Peninsula make up more than 80 per cent of South Australia’s seafood exports, primarily in southern bluefin tuna and oysters.
The World is Your Oyster
The districts of Smoky Bay, Denial Bay and Saint Peters Island (just off the coast of Ceduna) are renowned for their flavour-filled, fresh and juicy oysters – a welcome result of the pristine waters of the Great Australian Bight. Local oyster grower Bruce Zippel says oysters in the region are unique because of the remarkable conditions.
“There’s no doubt about it, oyster growers in the far west coast of South Australia have some of the most pristine growing conditions in the country,” he says. ”Here, oysters are ocean-fed by annual upwellings from the Great Australian Bight and they don’t have any fresh water at all. The salty water is what gives our oysters that sweet ocean flavour.”
When in full bloom, natural oysters from different growing regions will have variance in taste. Oysters grown in the Smoky Bay region are well known for their sweet taste, but oysters from the Cowell region – on the eastern Eyre Peninsula – have a saltier flavour.
Bruce Zippel also loves to share his passion for pairing oyster flavours and wine with visitors and locals. “Once you have that first natural oyster, you can let the taste sit on your tongue and choose a wine that matches the flavour,” he explains. “Salty oysters will go well with a sweet white wine, whereas sweeter oysters are better matched with a dry white wine. If you prefer something like Oysters Kilpatrick, you can start to experiment with matching red wines to this dish. Natural oysters from the bay leave a lingering salt taste on the back of the tongue, which goes perfectly with Sauvignon Blanc. There’s no wrong way to enjoy your oysters, however, as long as you enjoy them.”
Celebrating Oysters & Seafood
In Ceduna oysters are such an integral part of the community that they are celebrated every year over the October long weekend at Oysterfest, which has been the largest event of the region since it launched in 1991. What started as a one-day event has grown into a three-day food and wine festival celebrating the seafood culture of the west coast region. It now features live music, local food and craft stalls, entertainment, art and so much more.
The growing interest in these industries is also apparent in the local schools, where students gain hands-on experience. Ceduna Area School, for instance, runs a successful Farm to Plate program using the school’s aquaculture centre, providing the Ceduna Foreshore Hotel with fresh local barramundi for its ever-changing menu.
The hotel is positioned right on the water, so keen recreational fishers can experience prime fishing conditions straight from the local jetty, where they can snag some fresh whiting, squid, crab or tommy.
Food and wine lovers can skip the fishing and head straight to the bar or bistro for a fillet of fish or natural oyster. The trip from the ocean to your plate is not far at all when you’re dining in the west coast – with some of the best seafood in the region caught and grown right outside your door. It’s no wonder the food tastes so fresh when you can sit on the Ceduna Foreshore and look out over Murat Bay to where your meal was caught that day.
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