Established in the 1830s as a fishing village where the Moyne River meets the Southern Ocean, Port Fairy remains a vibrant fishing and tourist hub. Down on the river docks, you can see fishermen unloading their daily catches of fish, crayfish and abalone. Cruising boats and racing yachts add further colour to the river setting. Anglers try their luck, casting lines into the river in the hope of hooking one of the river’s fish. It’s a short stroll back into town through avenues of Norfolk Pines, where you can see up to fifty buildings that are protected by the National Trust of Australia, many of them white rendered cottages built in the 1930s and 40s. You may have the feeling that you’re in an Irish country town in the 1830s. In fact, Port Fairy was originally known as Belfast.
East of the river lies the beautiful Port Fairy Bay and East Beach, several kilometres of white sand set against a backdrop of turquoise blue waters. At the southern end of this stretch of coast, Griffiths Island holds a breeding colony of the Australian shearwaters (commonly known as mutton birds). West of the river, where our farm is located, the coastline is more rugged, with bluestone boulders from ancient lava flows protecting the coastline. They also protect the bay where we draw our water from the great swells of the Southern Ocean.
Australia is world-renowned for producing the highest quality seafood because of its pristine water quality. Southern Australian oceanic waters are exceptionally pure because of the water provided by the Great Southern Ocean.
Our inlet water comes from a small bay which protects our pipelines from the large swells offshore of our farm. Because the bay is so small, we have a real advantage over many other farms as our water has oceanic temperatures ranging from 11 to 19°C. Our farm is situated close to the continental shelf where the Bonney upwelling brings cold oxygenated and nutrient-rich waters up after travelling from the Antarctic. The farm has influences from the Leeuwin Current from the West and the East Australian Current from the east.
Importantly for us, the nearest large population centre is over 70km away, and there is no runoff from any large rivers nearby. There is, therefore, no source of pollution to affect our farm. This small and low temperature range means that our abalone grow throughout the year, do not get heat-stressed and can be processed all year round. This results in a consistent product for our customers to enjoy. This source of water truly is our greatest asset.
The selection of the site was pure serendipity. One of the founders bought some land to access very well-protected bays for diving for abalone. When the idea for an abalone farm was formed, the site was already available. The abalone population was substantial; the bay protected the farm from the swells of the Great Southern Ocean and the location remote from human habitation. The founder was involved with a local abalone processing company, and what better way to ensure consistent work for your staff than supply abalone all year round.