It was hot at Pambula Show on Saturday but that didn’t stop Sydney Royal Agricultural Show aquaculture judges, Roy Mills and Gerry Anderson from enjoying the local offering.
Halfway through tasting the 16 oyster entries, Roy Mills was resting his taste buds.
How are the oysters, I asked?
“Pretty good,” he replied.
Roy rates oysters on their internal and external appearance, as well as taste.
“Most of them are reasonably fat. They’ve got a good colour. They’re not 100 per cent – there are a few that are out of shape.
“Some of these oysters have foreign growths on them. That one is almost a perfect shape, nice and deep and free of any marine organisms.”
Gerry Anderson is a councillor of the Royal Agricultural Society in aquaculture and he wants to encourage local oyster growers to enter this year’s Sydney show.
“I want to encourage more people to enter our competition, because there are such wonderful oysters grown in this area from all the estuaries and lakes,” he said.
“If you win a gold or silver (at the show), you can market that.”
Roy Mills was impressed with the number of entries at Pambula Show.
“We have 16 exhibitors today and that’s the most we’ve ever had for Sydney,” he adds.
Biting into an oyster, Roy notices the firmness first.
“They are nice and firm. Firmness means they are fresher and have more condition,” he says.
“Condition means spawn…all those little white spots in there are baby oysters. That is the gonad of the oyster. That’s where it’s all held. You could say I’m a gonad taster,” he says.
“These little fellas turn over about 5 gallons of water an hour. Some people think of a canary in the coal mine. Oysters are the same with water.”
Its water quality that nearly destroyed some oyster leases further north.
“North of Sydney has had their problems with disease and floods,” Gerry Anderson said.
“The oyster growers in the Manning River are almost wiped out. A lot of the farmers from the Manning have moved their stock over to Wallace Lake.”
Sue McIntyre from Bega Coast Oysters watches on.
“We’re so lucky as an oyster association to have Roy and Gerry come down and be a part of Pambula show,” she says.