Bruny Island Tasmania – Interview Cape Bruny Oysters

Find out what it's like being an oyster farmer in Tassie

Bruny Island Tasmania – Interview Cape Bruny Oysters

Bruny Island oysters
Get Shucked - Bruny Island Oysters. Photo: Rob Burnett

Have you ever gone on a trip you enjoyed so much you ended up moving to your holiday destination? That’s what happened to Stephanie Sutcliffe. Her first visit to Tasmania, a few years ago, left such a big impression she ended up moving there.

“I came to Bruny Island and saw a white wallaby and didn’t know what the hell was going on. Now I live here,” says Sutcliffe who grew up on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and has lived in a few places in Australia and overseas.

Bruny Island
Passing Penguin Island – Bruny Island Cruises. Photo: Joe Shemesh

She now operates an oyster farm on beautiful Bruny Island. 

If you’re keen on tasting Pacific oysters while visiting Bruny Island, the most accessible place is Get Shucked. Note: Pacific oysters aren’t native to Tasmania, they were introduced to Tassie in the 1940s.

Actualy four million dozen oysters are produced in Tasmania each year and Tasmania’s oyster farmers lead the industry in culture technology.

There are several farms on Bruny Island. Here is a peek into the life of one of the newest Tassie oyster farmers, Stephanie Sutcliffe.  

Why oyster farming?

It was the first job I got on the island and things just followed on from there. I don’t have a background in farming nor did I have an interest in oysters prior to working on the farm.

Tasmania is the best place in Australia to grow Pacific oysters, as far as I know. After working in an oyster farm, it seemed like a good business to get into. 

We only took over the farm about eight months ago and have managed to not mess things up too much as yet!

How big is the oyster farming industry in Tasmania?

Oyster farming is the oldest form of aquaculture practiced in Australia and the industry is quite advanced compared to other parts of the world.

Almost everyone you meet down here has either worked on a farm or knows someone who has.

There are quite a few leases on Bruny Island, some developed, some not, but the majority of the leases are up in Great Bay on North Bruny.

Bruny Island whisky
Photo: Stephanie Sutcliffe

Where is Cape Bruny Oysters?

Cape Bruny Oysters is located at Cloudy Bay Lagoon. The lagoon is primarily a marine conservation area on South Bruny.

The farm is split over two 10 hectare leases where we grow Pacific oysters from juveniles up to market size.

We sell our oysters wholesale to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. At the moment we only employ a couple of casual staff to help with harvests and maintenance.

Bruny Island whisky
Photo: Stephanie Sutcliffe

Describe a typical day in your life

It all depends on the weather.  The wind and tide has a huge effect on what you can and cannot achieve throughout the day.

What are the challenges of oyster farming in Tasmania?

POMS (Pacific oyster mortality syndrome) is a pretty big concern for the industry, as is over development around oyster leases which can often cause closures for farms.

But working outside in a pristine environment is pretty great, compared to most people my day to day life is quite peaceful.

What’s your favourite spot in Tassie?

Cloudy Bay Lagoon (as I spend all my time there). It’s just stunning.

Favourite beach in Tasmania?  

My favourite beach is pretty local and unspoiled so I can’t tell you about that one. It’s a secret! You’ll have to come to Bruny Island to find out.

Favourite town in Tasmania?

Strahan is awesome.  

If you had to move to somewhere else where would you go?  

Strahan or Cockle Creek. I wouldn’t go anywhere that’s too busy or too far from the water.

Most romantic place you’ve been to in Tasmania?

Trial Harbour is remote and rugged and has a challenging road leading into the town.

I think there are only around 30 permanent residents in the town.

Do you have any advice for visitors to Tasmania?

Be prepared for march flies and tiger snakes in summer and wind and hail in winter.

What’s an ideal three-day itinerary for a first-time visitor to Tasmania?

Three days isn’t really enough. There is so much to see. If you try and cram too much in you’ll spend all your time in the car.

If it’s your first time then you’ve got to see Tasmanian devils, drink some Pinot and hike across some sea cliffs.  

Bruny Island Premium Wines make awesome wine and cider and their restaurant in Lunawanna, on the western side of Bruny Island, is well worth visiting.

Stephanie Sutcliffe operates Cape Bruny Oysters on Bruny Island

Discover Tasmania

Here are five more things to do on Bruny Island

1-Climb the Neck

The view from the top is stunning and there’s also an optical illusion that makes the sea-level seem higher on one side.

2-Pick your own berries

You can pick your own berries at Bruny Island Berry Farm and enjoy delicious berry ice creams in a tranquil setting along a creek.

3-Sample Tasmanian whisky

If you don’t have time to travel around Tasmania, the Tasmanian House of Whisky is the place to sample award-winning Tasmanian single malts in one place.

Bruny Island Cruises
Tasmanian House of Whisky (previously known as Bruny Island Smokehouse & Whisky Bar). Photo: Nick Osborne

4-Bruny Island Cruises

Take a memorable cruise along Bruny Island’s coast (the cruise won Australia’s Best Ecotourism Product four times and won Tasmania’s Best Tourist Attraction for the last eight years in a row!).

It’s a three-hour adventure in yellow boats to the Southern Ocean. You’ll explore sea caves, soaring cliffs and abundant wildlife.

Bruny Island whisky
Bruny Island Cruises. Photo: Graham Freeman

5-Bruny Island Long Weekend

Bruny Island Long Weekend is a luxury glamping experience offers sweeping scenery, guided walks (you’ll get plenty of exercise) in the national park, a tent with a king-sized bed and home-cooked meals prepared with local produce. And as part of the experience, you’ll also get to do the Bruny Island Cruises.

Bruny Island oysters
Bruny Island Long Weekend. Photo: Graham Freeman
Bruny Island oysters
Bruny Island Long Weekend. Photo: Graham Freeman
Bruny Island oysters
Rock Arch, Cape Queen Elizabeth – Bruny Island Long Weekend. Photo: Graham Freeman

Discover Tasmania

For more things to do in Tasmania what about hunting for the Southern Lights Tasmania? See www.discovertasmania.com.au for more.

Bruny Island Tasmania

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