Ironstone Oysters – The Product
Ironstone Oysters’ Pacific Oysters have become renowned for being “the sweetest tasting oyster on the east coast of Tasmania” – quite the accolade.
Ironstone’s maiden lease at Island Inlet is less than a 30 minute drive from Tasmania’s capital city of Hobart and lies at the centre of Orani vineyard, surrounded by apricot trees and cherry orchards. Here, the oysters are grown in the brackish waters of the estuary. The mixture of fresh water from the land and southern currents from the ocean combine to give them the desired sweet, salty taste.
A little further north is Ironstone’s second lease at Blackmans Bay, where the oysters are farmed in the oceanic east coast waters. The water depth produces a wider, deeper cut oyster that’s slightly saltier than its Island Inlet counterpart.
No matter the location, the longer the oyster is left to mature, the fuller the meat and flavour.
Wholesalers of Ironstone oysters say their customers specifically ask for the Ironstone brand, so highly regarded is the consistency, taste and quality of Ironstone Oysters.
Ironstone Oysters – The Company
In March 2016 Ironstone Oysters will celebrate its 10th birthday. The organisation, named after the volcanic ironstone rock that lines the estuary of Island Inlet, is the brainchild of owner Scott Brooks. Scott worked for a seafood export company in his late teens before lending a hand to a friend who owned an oyster farm, and the rest, they say, is history.
As a greenfields site, everything from design to environmental systems at Island Inlet was built by Scott and his team from the ground up. They didn’t sell their first oyster for 18 months.
“It doesn’t happen very often anymore. People buy new water and expand farms, but starting a new organisation was pretty cool,” said Scott.
It took upwards of five years to fully develop the farm and just 18 months ago, Scott acquired his second lease at Blackmans Bay, starting the process again.
Scott says it’s the outdoor lifestyle and the fact that he gets to drive boats everyday that keeps him passionate about his job.
Reaching the 10 year milestone is a feat Scott is immensely proud of, all the while remaining consistent during this time, expanding the business and putting all of his staff through Certificate 3 in Aquaculture.
Scott is on the research and development committee of Oysters Australia and likes to “push the boundaries” to try and move the industry forward.
“We’re always trying new systems to try and improve the life of the oyster, the growing speed and characteristics.”
From Ocean to Plate
Ironstone oysters are harvested in Tasmania from seed to mature oyster. Ironstone purchases its spat from hatcheries at Pipeclay Lagoon and Denali in Tasmania and places it in the water the very same day. During their two-year growth period, the oysters are graded into size groups every 10 weeks to ensure they grow evenly.
Through innovative breeding techniques, Ironstone Oysters are available 11 months of the year.
According to Scott, everything they do at Ironstone is sustainable; from sourcing their spat from a hatchery right through to the timber they use for their racks.
“If we ever have to pull the pin and pack up the farm, within three months of pulling out the last post you’ll never know we’ve ever been there.”
Ironstone Oysters is a certified supplier to Coles, and as part of this, has been accredited by Coles sustainability partner the World Wild Fund for Nature as part of their Sustainable Seafood Choices program. In addition, the company operates under a HACCP accredited Food Safety system.