Through advanced farming techniques, fifth-generation oyster farmers Ben and John Ralston are growing creamier, plumper and sweeter oysters.

Story By Paula Heelan

In soft, pre-dawn light, on slate water, brothers Ben and John Ralston punt along the Clyde River at Batemans Bay on the NSW south coast. With four other siblings, the boys grew up on this river with their parents, Graham and Myee.
The Clyde is in their blood. They know its tides, every rock and crevice, and its value. Since they were small boys they have played, fished, swum and snorkelled here and took the reins of the family oyster farming business from Graham in 2002.
Flanked by gently sloping land, dense with eucalypt forest, swamp oak, saltmarsh and mangroves and alive with water birds, the Clyde is one of Australia’s most pristine river systems and shell deposits found in Aboriginal middens dating back to 6000BC, show that oysters have long been a staple part of the diet here. The river flows for more than 120 kilometres through mountain ranges, national park and state forest, widening into a broad estuary before reaching the Pacific Ocean. With an absence of polluting industries in the catchment, the water quality is pure and ideal for growing world-class oysters suitable for top restaurants.

This story excerpt is from Issue #91

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2013