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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Narooma Oyster Festival just around the corner

Join growers, chefs and shuckers to celebrate the marvellous Rock Oyster on the shores of Wagonga Inlet this May 5, 6 and 7.


A blend of cosmopolitan food experiences and immersive entertainment, the festival is well anchored on the South Coast calendar for oyster lovers and families alike. Each year around 70,000 rock oysters are shucked and quaffed after making their way to Narooma from estuaries along the New South Wales coastline, the only place in the world where they naturally grow.


Friday, May 5 is a warm-up for the big day on Saturday. A twilight affair that ends with fireworks over the water, this year will see an expansion of the food offerings in both premium dining and around the general foreshore. A gate ticket will deliver you to multiple oyster bars, liquor bars, food trucks, live music headlined by Benji and the Saltwater Sound System and projected animations.


While tickets to Friday’s popular Long Table Dinner sell within minutes, a new addition, the Yuin Native Food Exploration, promises to be an immersive journey towards a deeper appreciation of the culture and country of the regions’ First Peoples.


Saturday, May 6 is a huge day of tastings, exploring the foreshore and fierce but friendly competition among the farmers. Live music all day includes blues great Owen Campbell and the Cosmic People, more from Benji and the Saltwater Sound System and more. The morning sees Australia's Biggest Oyster where the entries need to be seen to be believed, last year’s winner weighed in at almost three kilograms. In the afternoon, cheer on the fastest shuckers in Australia's Oyster Shucking Championships which the festival touts as the ‘race that stops a festival’. This year, Tasmania’s champion Zoe Jacobson joins the competition after winning the state competition in February. The winner will have the chance to compete on the world stage at the World Oyster Opening Championships in Galway, Ireland in September.


If cooking is a passion, you can learn from local, regional and celebrated chefs in the Betta Cooking Demonstrations Program. Hosted by Farm to Fork’s Courtney Roulston, the line-up includes one of New Zealand’s best chefs Martin Bosley who is also an author, oyster judge and fishmonger. Fresh from judging oysters at the Sydney Royal Aquaculture Show in April, Bos’s session is not to be missed. Rockpool Bar & Grill’s Corey Costelloe is back after a hugely popular Steak Tartare and Oyster Mayo in 2022. His predecessor Khan Danis, now enjoying a sea change at Bermagui Beach Hotel, will join us this year to prepare a whole tuna with his colleague Dom Mannel. Merivale’s Hussein Sarhan will join us this year and we can’t wait to see what the Fred’s Head Chef will bring to the table.


The biggest attraction for rock oyster lovers is the opportunity to taste the merrior of New South Wales estuaries. A patient stroll along Oyster Farmers Alley presents many opportunities for freshly shucked oysters served a variety of ways and to glimpse the shuckers at work. A deeper dive into the world of oysters (at a more sedate pace) is to be had in the Ultimate Oyster Experiences, hosted by Australia's leading oyster authority John Susman, or a Champagne Oyster Cruise on the inlet.


In between the excitement, the Rock Oyster Lounge offers an exclusive, adults only space to refresh and graze on the festival’s best offerings. On Saturday night, the Salty Festival Fiesta is one of the first opportunities to try Olsson’s Salt’s new range of margarita salts, along with yet more rock oysters, Mexican tapas and roaming canapes and dancing.


Sunday brunch will be best spent at the inaugural Hangtown Fry at Club Narooma. A dish born on the Californian Goldfields, the Fry combines crumbed oysters and bacon inside a pillow of fluffy eggs. A great way to round out a long weekend in this stunning part of the South Coast.


Coaches operate between Batemans Bay and Bermagui, with a free shuttle bus around Narooma.


Grab your tickets at www.naroomaoysterfestival.com


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