Pearl Farming on the Hawkesbury

Today we went just north of Sydney and discovered a small but interesting industry. Pearl farming.

Pearls of Australia

We organised a tour of the little pearl farm and base for a company that operates in two locations. They started off in Western Australia in a place called Cygnet Bay and more recently opened the operation in a place called Mooney Mooney on the Hawkesbury River estuary.

Plenty of ex-oysters. There are shells everywhere

We learned how they make the pearls – or rather how they cultivate them. We then went out on a boat to see where they ‘farm’ the oysters. The skipper of the boat showed us how they check for pearls and wouldn’t you know it… Out of two oysters we found two pearls, one in each. Excellent. We were told that the success rate is actually about two out of three with cultivated pearls. Far less common for natural pearls – something like one in a thousand (or was it more? anyway, quite rare).

A pearl in an oyster…
Shore of Spectacle Island where some of the oysters are farmed
Two out of two ‘aint bad

Skipper Dani

The best part for Dani was when he was allowed to drive the boat, which of course he found very exciting. Now he can’t wait to get back to school to tell everyone. The main reason that was even possible was that there was only the three of us on the trip (and the real skipper). Another covid-1984 effect. The boat was ours. You see, sometimes these “pandemics” bring great opportunities. That probably wouldn’t have happened if these tours could fully book without restrictions..

When we returned to the company’s base we learned about hos the pearls are graded based on size, colour, shape, surface and lustre. You could say we probably know more about it now than the people selling them in your local jewellery store. Well, we can think that for a while can’t we?

Before… Yet Another ‘Reccy’

Before the trip and guided pearl tour we headed further inland of the Hawkesbury to a little place called Spencer.  This looks a great place to rent a boat and do a little tour even further up the river. Hardly anyone on the river. On the road however it was different. This place is very popular with the bikers. Motorbikers that is. Where we stopped for a coffee was a typical bikers stop. And who can blame them? The roads wind around the shore of the river with lush forest on the other side. Perfect for a day’s riding.

A bold claim…
Popular with the bikers
Spencer is on a classic biker’s route
Such a peaceful location for a boat ride

This was just another ‘reccy’. It’s about time we actually did something eh? So, tomorrow we intend to…

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