Noel Baggaley has run his Brunswick Seed Oysters operation for over 40 years. He has seen many events affect his product, from the ’98 truck collision that spilled into the Bruns River, through to floods and then bumper seasons. Most recently he has had the severe weather and flooding in December 2020 when he lost around 60% of his stock.
At the moment happily, oysters are growing exceptionally well.
Farmers Markets have always been Noel’s bread and butter and the few restaurants he does supply to sourced his product through his Market stalls. Recently however with COVID restrictions and restaurants locked down, all his supply has been directed to the Farmers Markets.
The Brunswick River is Noel’s oyster nursery. His oysters grow there for their first years where he operates from Readings Bay. Once mature Noel transfers them to the Tweed River for six months to finish them off. They must be processed in Tweed as the operation in Brunswick does not have electricity or running water due to its proximity to the National Park.
Brunswick River grows Sydney Rock Oysters, which are the only indigenous oyster to the region. Pacific oysters are an Asian oyster that are farmed.
Oysters really are a superfood. They are high in essential Omega-3 oils, zinc and iron and vitamins A, B and C, and low in cholesterol. “If you have a cold coming on oysters are your best medicine” said Noel.
The other benefit are the shells are great for helping your garden flourish. The reason for this is calcium, and the oyster shell has loads of it. On top of this as filter feeders oysters can filter up to 100 litres of water a day!
Noel’s oysters come to the Markets straight from the river. He opens them and packages them in to trays, wrapped and sealed the evening before the Markets.
Asked how he eats his oysters and Noel of course prefers them natural straight out of the river, although says “One of the best complements is the Australian native finger lime. They are perfect with oysters”.
Noel sells in packets of 12 and in winter he also sells home-made seafood chowder made to his family recipe. Oh and shots! He sells shots with a garnish he makes himself with tabasco, Worcestershire, finger lime, tomato juice and celery salt.
Vale Barry Roughley
You may have noticed a change at Noel’s stall at the Markets. For many years the Brunswick Seed Oyster stall was manned by Barry who also worked in the oyster farm. Definitely one of life’s characters, a cheeky chappie and a great friend and support to Noel. He was a huge part of the North Byron Market family and is sadly missed.
A toast to Barry with a little oyster shot to thank him for the memories……. RIP dear Bazza.