Taree is a decent sized town that sits on the Manning river about 320 kms north of Sydney and about 17 kms from the coast. The town grew mainly from farming and now has a population of over 26,000. The town centre has plenty of shops and businesses but it is not the prettiest town that’s for sure. In fact if they ever write one of those “Crap Towns” books about Australia then Taree may well make an appearance. (Maybe there is a such a book. Does anyone know if there is such a book?)
The Big Oyster
One thing that Taree is (kind of) famous for is having one of those “Big” things that seem so popular in Australia. I have posted about these in the past. It is a strange piece of Australiana where even the most bizarre “big” things have become tourist attractions in their own right. The Big Oyster is one of about 150 sculptures and large structures sprinkled across Australia. It is actually marked on Google Maps, yet it seems to be completely pointless and out of place. As well as being more than a little ugly. But there is a reason for it and sadly, for the town of Taree, it is something not many are aware of.
The huge fibreglass model was built in 1990 to honour the booming oyster industry in the town. Over 3 million of oysters are taken out of the Manning river each year and it is still a thriving industry. It was first opened as a restaurant and themed gift shop, and the public could enter inside it to take in the views from the teeth-like windows. But when that business closed a car dealership took it over and the inside of the “oyster” is now closed to the public.
The Big Oyster is that it was built by the same people who built the Big Merino and the Big Prawn but is hardly as well known as those two well photographed beasts.
There are plenty of shops and a couple of old fashioned hotels (pubs) worth checking out. The riverside setting is not too bad either.
It is unlikely Taree will be on anyone’s road trip list but like so many places there is always something to have a look at. Maybe knowing about the oyster farming would encourage more people to see the Big Oyster and spend a little time in the town.