Although the Ceduna Oysterfest festival started in 1990, this was my first festival. As the name suggests, the event is based on the oyster.
The farming of Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas) in the District Council of Ceduna area began in the mid 1980’s and is now practiced in Denial Bay, Murat Bay and Smoky Bay along with other locations across the state. The oysters for this event were supplied by the Zippels of Smoky Bay.
Oysters Kilpatrick, lemon pepper oysters and another variation I don’t recall
The oysters at Oysterfest were delicious although I was surprised that the natural oysters were sold for the same price as the cooked variants ($7 per half-dozen).
From a superficial Adelaideian point of view, besides the limited influence of the oysters, this festival, with its rides, competitions and food stalls, was not very unique. However, I found the community gathering and regional importance of this festival far greater than I’ve experienced in Adelaide. On Sunday I was introduced to a constant stream of visitors who knew my grandparents as we sat in the large marquee. Everybody knows everybody in small towns. I enjoy the anonymity and services of the big city but I also see the benefits of a stronger and smaller community.
Daredevil stunt pilot and former local Chris Sperou performing tricks for the Oysterfest crowd
Young kids in the Farmers Union Iced Coffee holding competition
During the festival a memorial monument in the shape of a lighthouse was unveiled at Pinky Point in remembrance to those who had lost their lives at sea.
Overall I enjoyed the festival and appreciate its role in the region’s renaissance. Aquaculture, mining and tourism are growing alternative income and employment sources for the Far West Coast of South Australia. When I left as a child in the late 1980s, the district was in slow decline due to its reliance on the inconsistent and weather-reliant grain, lamb and wool industries. 20 years later the place is renewing itself.