A day in the life of an oyster grower.
by Jedd Routledge
As the sun creeps over the eastern horizon, we start arriving at the shed. Some are still waking up, others alert and ready to suit up in their wetsuit.
It can be a glorious day, a gentle breeze blowing, flat calm water, or it can be gusting up to 35knots, white caps and waves rolling down the channel.
Either way, a sense of anticipation builds as the tractor towing the 32 foot oyster punt nears the boat ramp.
As we are propelled towards the oyster leases by twin 175 honda outboards, the salt air and the scenery invigorates even the slowest of those to wake up.
The sand bar, with row upon row of oyster racks filled with BST or SEAPA oyster bags containing crasostreas gigas, commonly known as the pacific oyster, soon appears.
We pull up next to a rack, sometimes in 30cm of water, sometimes our feet barely touching the seafloor. Depending on the weather and time of year, sales or grading prevail, but either way the oyster punt is fully loaded come hail or shine.
We steam back to the boat ramp with our precious cargo, often passing dolphins, ready to enjoy a warm shower and lunch.
The forklift jumps into action bringing cages of clean oyster bags into the shed. The compressor is switched on creating the air pressure required for the SED machine, capable of grading 200 oysters a minute.
Oysters flow into the hopper, sales bags are readied, and the various conveyors begin the process of moving oysters to their final destination. Whether we are selling bistro, plate or standard size oysters for the oyster lovers around Australia, or satisfying the export demand for our premium product, the day is full and rewarding.
To be involved in the husbandry of 4mm pacific oysters, mostly sourced from Hatcheries in Tasmania, through to the much adored and iconic shellfish gracing many a home table or restaurant menu is intensely rewarding.
Although this process can take up to 24 months, from spat to sale, and many oysters are lost in the journey, there is no greater feeling than supplying this most wonderful of bivalves to Australians and the world alike.