Tarkine Fresh Oysters have their processing factory and small café quite close to the centre of the town of Smithton on Tasmania’s North West Coast. Tarkine Fresh Oysters is the trading name for Bolduans Bay Oysters Pty Ltd which was established in 1979 by Jon Poke and his wife Annette.
Smithton is very close to the amazing Tarkine Wilderness region (some 477,000 hectares in extent) that is the largest temperate rainforest in Australia and one of the largest in the world.
The operation at Tarkine Fresh Oysters is quite extensive with the production of oyster spats for other growers through to oysters for restaurants and retail outlets within Tasmania and interstate, through to value added products which are sold through their retail outlet in Smithton (which is expected to reopen in October 2020).
The oysters are known for their tough shells which help when they are being transported. There is speculation that this strength comes from the presence of dolomite in Barduans Bay which has a high calcium and magnesium content which is perfect for building strong shells.
We were looked after by Cassie Plaza who exudes enthusiasm for the entire operation. She first explained the plans for reopening the retail section of the operation, then showed us around the variety of buildings that house much of the equipment that is used to process the oysters.
Many of the pieces of specialty equipment have either been designed or altered by founder Jon to improve the efficiency of the operation. These include machines to sort the oysters into different size ranges and a machine to clean the oysters after they come out of the water.
Cassie also has plans for a range of associated activities for the public such as shucking lessons and tours of the facilities both onshore and offshore. Once again, there are bespoke designs for the boat that will conduct these tours.
If you would like to try these oysters you can often buy them from Hursey’s Seafoods in nearby Stanley, the Grand Chancellor in Hobart and the Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory at Sassafras, to name a few.
We look forward to the Tarkine Fresh Oysters reopening and we will update this story after we visit the revamped cafe at that time.
Street: 21/25 West Esplanade
Town/Suburb: Smithton, 7330
Phone number: +61 6452 2262
Open: Currently closed, reopens October