Oyster Bay is situated on the eastern coast of Gulf St Vincent. Captain Matthew Flinders mapped this coast line in 1802 but settlement was not until 1811. Oyster Bay was renamed Stansbury in 1873 by Governor Musgrave.
During the mid 1800’s as many as 20 oyster dredges worked in the area and eventually depleted stocks of wild oysters.
Mr Jim McIntyre, a pioneer of the South Australian oyster industry from the 1930’s began experimenting with local oysters (Ostrea angasi) at Stansbury in 1961. During the 60’s and early 70’s there were only two productive oyster farms in South Australia. One at Coffin Bay the other at Stansbury. (how things have changed)
By 1973 Jim began successfully using stick culture by importing (C.gigas) spat from Tasmania and hence his Stansbury oyster farm began to flourish. In 1996, 8 oyster leases, (a total of 80 hectares) were offered by the South Australian Aquaculture Unit and Department of Fisheries. Today those 80 hectares are farmed by: Coffin Bay Oyster Farm (Lester Marshall), McDonald Shellfish (Colin and Donna McDonald), Pacific Estate Oysters (Steve and Gerri Bowley) and Southern Yorke Oysters (Paul and Mick Dee). The inshore leases have now largely been abandoned as non-productive with all leases now located on the sand spit which dominates Oyster Bay.
Oysters are grown using the intertidal method with various systems including BST, Aqua trays and pillow units.
Presently there are about 5million oysters in the pristine gulf waters surrounding Stansbury with most oysters being marketed as “ongrown”. These ongrown oysters are sold to other Oyster growing regions of the state predominantly Coffin Bay and Smoky Bay to satisfy the demand for juvenile oysters from these premier seafood regions. Stansbury oysters are slow grown – for strong adductor muscle and good shell development.
Stansbury’s market for mature oysters should not be overlooked. The sweet creamy flavour and fresh burst of sea breeze aftertaste is complex, full (from being slow grown) and much sort after by oyster connoisseurs.
“Fishies” everywhere would acknowledge that there is something special about seafood taken from the Gulf St. Vincent and Stansbury oysters are no exception.
Mature oyster sales is predominantly to the local tourist market or exports of live product 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.
As well as providing oysters to local hotels, and businesses other farmers supply direct to restaurants and wineries across the state.
When you visit Yorke Peninsula ask for our fresh local oysters – and taste the difference for yourself.
Situated 196km from Adelaide Port Vincent is considered the premier resort town of Yorke Peninsula. Aquaculture is studied at the school and oyster production is a new Industry for the area. Twenty hectares of lease are in the Bay and production is on the increase.
Southern Yorke Oysters are the sole lease holders in the bay and also have lease holdings in Stansbury. The growth rates that have been achieved on these sites is exceptional and is assisting Southern Yorke Oysters by increasing their output in production.
Port Vincent oysters can be purchased through the Port Vincent Takeaway. The Ventnor Hotel has Port Vincent oysters on the menu, both located on the foreshore. Other markets are domestic within Australia with much focus on joining Stansbury as an export bay.