Sapphire Coast Oyster Trail
Take a leisurely drive around the Sapphire Coast and discover the salty delights being carefully nurtured in our local estuaries.
The Sapphire Coast is a world-class oyster producing region, with millions harvested from our waters each year, headed for local and export markets. The main focus is the native Sydney Rock Oyster, but some growers are now also producing the Angasi or Australian Flat Oyster. Both the Angasi and Sydney Rock Oyster offer a slightly different flavour and there is further variation in taste - or 'merrior' - depending on the estuary they are grown in - just like fine wine.
Take a road trip along our oyster trail, which starts to the south at Wonboyn Lake and finishes in the north at beautiful Wapengo Lake, with 5 estuaries to discover. Meet the growers, taste unbelievably fresh oysters and enjoy an authentic tide-to-table dining experience at local restaurants.
Start your experience and find out more by visiting the Sapphire Coast Wilderness Oyster Centre, which is part of the Merimbula Visitor Information Centre. Helpful staff are on hand to guide you to your desired locations and send you on your 'merrior' way!
Oysters have been farmed in Merimbula Lake since the 1920’s with large tidal exchanges keeping the estuary waters continually fresh enough to harvest oysters directly from the lake without treament, unlike many other oyster growing regions.
Merimbula Lake is one of the most beautiful estuaries in Australia and taking a stroll along the Merimbula Boardwalk is a great way to discover the magic this estuary offers. You'll wander past gnarled mangroves, sandy shallows teeming with marine life and see plenty of birds along the way. It's also a great place to watch the sunset and is a must-do Merimbula experience!
Merimbula Lake supports 17 locally owned oyster businesses - including Wheelers Oyster Farm and Restaurant, a local institution and a fine place to overlook the lake with a drink and an oyster in hand!
Fed by the Pambula & Yowaka Rivers, Pambula Lake is one of the healthiest estuaries in NSW, with a maximum depth of 12.5m and a generous tidal exchange providing perfect growing conditions for direct harvest.
On the foreshore you'll find the Broadwater Oyster Sheds, where several oyster farmers happily co-exist alongside one another, all busy working out of the lake to produce finest quality oysters for the local and international markets - and sell direct to the public.
Sample amazingly fresh oysters at Broadwater Oysters, enjoy the views over the lake and watch the farmers at work - where could you find a more appropriate place to down a plate of oysters? Book a lesson at their"Shuck School" for a more immersive experience where you get to taste your handywork at the end!
For the full oyster experience, book a tour on Pambula Lake with Captain Sponge's Magical Oyster Tours. Brett, aka 'Captain Sponge' is a wealth of knowledge and an entertaining host - the tour is well known as one of the best on the South Coast.
On your way back to Merimbula, you might have worked up a thirst and an appetite for more oysters so don't forget to stop at Longstocking Brewery & Oyster Bar!
Nelson Lagoon is tucked inside Mimosa Rocks National Park about 10 minutes drive north of Tathra just off the Tathra-Bermagui Road. Well worth a stop just for the sheer beauty of the place! Take a short 300m walk through native forests of Spotted Gum and Burrawang before arriving at the lagoon or beach in mere minutes. Several oyster leases operate within the lagoon and when you see the pristine conditions it's little wonder they are just as fabulous as the rest! It's a wonderful place for a walk, paddle, swim or even a surf if the conditions are right.
Continue on past Nelson's and not too far way is Wapengo Lake, situated about half an hours drive north of Tathra. With most of it's catchment falling in National Park, it's another pristine estuary- we have more than our fair share on the Sapphire Coast - where oyster farmers can 'direct harvest'.
Ideal for a day drive and picnic, explore nearby Mimosa Rocks National Park offering many beautiful places of interest. Continue along the lake foreshore road and you'll find your way to the suitably named Picnic Point. Or head back onto the Tathra-Bermagui road and travel further north to Bermagui - worth a days outing just to wander the Bermagui Fishermans Wharf.
On your way back to Merimbula, why not stop off at the recently refurbished Tathra Hotel for a refreshment on the deck or a hearty dinner in the bistro.
Take a drive to the south and discover remote and pretty Wonboyn Lake and the delicious oysters grown within. The most southern oyster growing estuary in NSW, it is fed by the Wonboyn River, the waters of which flow through the wilderness areas of Ben Boyd National Park & Nadgee Nature Reserve.
Oysters have been farmed at Wonboyn since the 1900's so it's not surprising they have a big reputation and a quite a few awards for their sweet, creamy and lightly briny flavour, attributed to the slightly higher percentage of fresh water in the lake.
Head to the Wonboyn Public Jetty and you'll see the oyster sheds dotted around the lake, with oysters available for purchase most days. Explore nearby Greenglade Picnic Area, go for a paddle in the kayak or take the rods and boat as Wonboyn is known for it's great fishing!
Need assistance with maps, directions or more information? We're here to help!
Pop into the Merimbula Visitor Information Centre and start your Oyster Trail adventure at the Sapphire Coast Wilderness Oyster Centre