Far West Coast
SMOKY BAY | DENIAL BAY | ST PETER ISLAND
The far west coast region of Eyre Peninsula is widely acknowledged as a prime area for aquaculture development because of the pristine water quality, sheltered bays and exceptional water flows.
The oyster industry has emerged as one of the key growth industries on the far west coast. Initially established in 1985 in Denial Bay, 1988 in Smoky Bay and most recently in the year 2000 near St Peter Island, the industry has played a very important role in revitalising the social fabric of the communities on the far west coast with jobs being created in the District. There has also been a significant flow on effect to the local businesses in the community particularly in steel fabrication, marine services, rural merchandise, fuel, freight and financial services.
The communities of Denial Bay and Smoky Bay are the main bases for the region’s local oyster industry who will host ultimate development of close to 300 hectares of production leases in predominantly intertidal water.
Unlike any other oyster growing area on Eyre Peninsula these oysters are cultivated in the fresh oceanic seas of the Great Australian Bight. The local marine environment does not have any freshwater input via river systems or freshwater runoff and therefore the oysters rely on the nutrient rich natural upwellings from the Great Australian Bight itself. These nutrients assist in providing the right conditions for the oysters to thrive.
The area is biologically unique in South Australia owing to the influence of the Leeuwin Current, flowing eastwards across the Bight meeting the colder waters of the Flinders Current. Over the years the oysters produced in this region have become recognised for their distinctive and unique ‘sweet and salty ocean’ taste. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies waters of the far west coast as Class 3 – ‘pristine waters’.
Extensive seagrass meadows and shallow sand banks typify the local coastal region, particularly surrounding the Eyre Island national park, which is part of this beautiful setting.
The ‘Far West Coast’ is also well known for excellent fishing, with the local King George whiting highly prized as one of Australia’s best tasting fish. Visitors are also regularly treated to the sight of dolphins, seals and a variety of native seabirds hunting in their natural wilderness.
The oyster industry first started in Smoky Bay in 1988, when oyster “icon” Kiwi Evans identified the region as having the potential that has been realised today. Kiwi had his faith in Smoky Bay rewarded when he went on to win the first three state oyster competitions.
Smoky Bay’s Aquaculture Park and Denial Bay township host the onshore homes to the majority of local oyster operations and here you can buy direct from the growers and maybe even get a lesson in how to shuck them yourself or join a tour and experience oyster farming life firsthand.
Streaky Bay is located in the mid-west region of Eyre Peninsula, and is emerging as a major producer of quality oysters, grown in pristine quality assured waters.
Original settlers in Streaky Bay reported large harvests of natural oysters for many years before the first commercial lease for growing Pacific Oysters was approved by the Development Assessment Commission in July 1988. However it was not until eleven years later, when oyster growers moved out of the sheltered waters of Blancheport into the more open waters of Streaky Bay itself, that oyster farming became truly viable local industry owing to the higher flow rates of nutrient rich seawater.
There are now four growing regions within the Streaky Bay Aquaculture Management Zone – Blancheport, Point Gibson (Hummocks), Perlubie (South Bank) and Haslam (North Bank). Local growers are currently farming a total of 198 hectares within these regions which are regularly monitored for water and shellfish quality by independent auditors under the South Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program. (SASQAP).
Streaky Bay oysters are high sought after and well renowned for their sweet flavor and are now enjoyed by many people all over Australia and indeed internationally.
Coffin Bay is a sleepy coastal town, nestled in-between rugged National Parks with the great Southern Ocean on one side, calm, pristine, flat water on the other. It is situated 42 km from Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia.
Coffin Bay is a popular holiday and fishing destination owing to its extensive sheltered bay system, edged with white sandy beaches and an abundance of marine life, flourishing in a healthy, clean environment.
The unique bays surrounding Coffin Bay are home to a large Pacific Oyster Industry where the ever popular ‘Coffin Bay Oyster’, well known for its quality, flavour and size thrives.
The waterways surrounding Coffin Bay are constantly being nourished with nutrient enriched seawater up-welling from the Southern Ocean. The water is monitored by a Quality Assurance Testing Program to maintain its pristine natural state, assuring high quality seafood throughout!
The first Pacific Oyster was introduced to Coffin Bay area in 1969 and it was due to that operation and subsequent trials that the current industry has developed with such success!
Visit one of the many oyster factories and get a good look firsthand at how oyster farming is done! Or book a tour, you will be amazed!
Cowell is less than 500 km from Adelaide, situated on Franklin Harbour, approximately halfway between Port Augusta and Port Lincoln. It is an ideal place for visitors to break a long journey or to take a holiday and enjoy the pleasant climate and relaxed lifestyle.
Renowned as one of the safest and best fishing areas in South Australia, Franklin Harbour is a land-locked bay with a narrow entrance through which boats have access to the harbour’s calm waters. The sheltered waters of the harbour offer the fishermen spotted and silver whiting, snapper, squid, mullet, flathead, garfish, snook, tommy ruff and blue crabs.
Cowell boasts a thriving oyster industry in Franklin Harbour, with several farms now in commercial production of these delicacies. The clean, sheltered water of the harbour provides an excellent environment for aquaculture, and the Pacific Oysters grown locally are recognised as amongst the best quality available. Fresh, locally grown oysters are available all year around from a number of retail outlets in the town or from the oyster growers themselves, who can be found predominantly along Oyster Drive.
The area is known for its allied oyster industries who call Cowell home and in recent times Cowell welcomed one of South Australia’s newest oyster hatcheries established in response to SA biosecurity measures imposed to maintain SA’s Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome free status.
The local oyster industry is also supported by the Cowell Area School who offers an accreditation course in aquaculture and has its own research and development oyster lease, training the next generation of oyster farmers. Their aquaculture education extends to growing out whiting, snapper, trout, marron and yabbies in tanks which makes an interesting attraction.
Yorke Peninsula is home to a number of oyster farms in the coastal towns of Port Vincent and Stansbury where pioneer Jim McIntyre began experimenting with local oysters (Ostrea angasi) in 1961.
In the 60’s and early 70’s Stansbury hosted one of only two productive oyster farms in South Australia with the other located in Coffin Bay. By 1973 Jim began successfully using stick culture by importing (C.gigas) spat from Tasmania and hence his Stansbury oyster farm began to flourish.
But the oyster industry in Port Vincent is relatively new by comparison with production on the increase in this bustling premier Yorke Peninsula resort town, situated only 196km from Adelaide. Aquaculture is studied at the local school and tourist abounds enjoy Port Vincent oysters at the takeaway and hotel along the foreshore.
Nowadays Yorke Peninsula oysters are grown using the intertidal method with various systems including hanging baskets, aqua trays and pillow units with Stansbury leases now located on the sand spit which dominants Oyster Bay in favour of the inshore leases areas which have largely been abandoned.
It is in these pristine gulf waters surrounding Stansbury that oyster growers purpose grow ‘ongrown’ product to sell to other oyster growing regions of the state to satisfy the demand for juvenile oysters from these premier seafood regions.
Mature oysters from this region are marketed for their sweet, creamy flavour and it is said that the much sought after local product is full and complex from being slow grown and offers a aftertaste burst of fresh sea breeze appreciated by oyster connoisseurs.
Mature oyster sales are predominantly to the local tourist market and hotels, direct to restaurants and wineries across the state or via live export to Hong Kong and Singapore with few oysters ever reaching the local wholesale market. Fresh oysters are available throughout the oyster season from the local fishmonger or from Growers’ sheds, just watch for the signs.
Kangaroo Island – Natures Paradise is renowned for its clean, green environment including the pristine water surrounding this jewel in South Australia’s crown!
Surrounded by five marine parks, 1/3 of the island protected as National Parks and world recognised for its natural and unspoilt beauty, Kangaroo Island has a thriving historic seafood industry and attracts recreational fishers from around Australia. Southern Rock lobster, Whiting, Snapper, Abalone, Scallops, Mussels and many more species thrive in our intact pristine marine environment.
Farms located in Nepean Bay and Eastern Cove are accredited under the South Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program ensuring our water quality is high, producing some of the best tasting oysters in the world. While native oysters were harvested in the wild on the Island back in the 1920’s, nowadays we farm the Pacific Oyster and the native Angasi.
Oysters grown in this region are known for their size, quality and distinctly sweet yet salty flavour. Wholesale quantities are shipped right around Australia and sold direct to the public through The Oyster Farm Shop in the small fishing village of American River.