With a liberal sprinkling of ingenuity, Andrew Arbon has established a plethora of sustainable aquaculture ventures on salt-affected land.

Story George Inglis Photos John Kruger

Between the sea and the scrub of South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, a subtle revolution in agriculture is underway. Port Broughton farmer Andrew Arbon calls himself “a crazy man out in the paddock trying to grow fish”, but he’s on a very sane mission to carve out a sustainable future. Andrew has not only diversified his farmland to include an aquaculture enterprise, but has also created a thriving tourist attraction, where a self-sufficient and sustainable set-up and Andrew’s passion and vision for what he’s trying to do are what is really fascinating.
It all began with an unproductive salt scald on Andrew’s 190-hectare property, where he grows wheat, barley and peas. “It galled me that I had four hectares here not doing anything, and there are oceans of saline water under our feet,” he says.
Rather than see this as a limitation, Andrew started experimenting with aquaculture and ways to produce saltwater fish inland using the plentiful resources at hand. The result is Fishlab, where he has created a “recirculating polyculture”. This is an environmental system that mimics nature’s interrelationships between species and resources by reusing water pumped from the massive reserves beneath his property to minimise external inputs and waste.

This story excerpt is from Issue #51

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2007