01 March 2018
APOLLO BAY SEAFOOD FESTIVALby MATT CHARLESWORTH
In 2018, the Apollo Bay Co Op celebrates 80 years of delivering fresh seafood straight from boat to belly. The little shop down by the marina has been and continues to be the local’s choice for fish and chips by the sea. The milestone coincided with the annual Apollo Bay Seafood Festival. The entire port and shop was transformed into a festival ground, complete with an oyster/champagne deck and dry area for little fishies on the jetty. “Harbour Day” was the main attraction but the fishy-fun continued all weekend with other events scattered across town.
$5 at the gate and we were welcomed by fresh oysters at the first stall. Mussels and hot chips or the half crayfish proved to be the popular options. Washed down with a glass of red or fresh Prickley Moses brew, all the while looking back towards the Great Ocean Road where the Otway hills meet the sea. Our choices were a little more alternative; scallop pie, snapper gyozo and prawn dumpling. Walking past the Paella stall was tough too. My stomach was already full to the brim but my sense of smell was telling me different. A waft of that signature turmeric flavour and watching the Chefs stir through the freshest seafood and boast about the local produce... I’m still not sure how I refused. “Seas the Day” printed on the event program really encapsulated this event; in addition to the food, there was lots to see and do. Staged by a large Ferris wheel at the start of the jetty, all the entertainment on water-level was family friendly. Market stalls, interactive workshops and even a music stage on a boat. The stage was absolutely rocking… quite literally.
The children’s screams, lively atmosphere and music were silenced on Sunday morning to hear from experts on topics that are close to the heart of Apollo Bay residents. “Conversations On the Edge” featured discussions about regenerative farming, sustainable fishing and a look at solutions for the future. Being a city slicker myself, I’m the first to admit that not enough questions are asked about the food we buy from supermarket giants. It was insightful to hear from scholars, industry professionals, local farmers and fishermen in a bid to improve agriculture and fishing practices. Jodie Lawson from “The Green Acre” spoke about the successes of her 2-acre market farm in the back of Apollo Bay. Thanks to her regenerative farming techniques, Jodie’s soil is as healthy as ever, delivering produce to residents with her veggie-box scheme. Another inspiring story was hearing from Erin Cumming, a PhD student at Deakin University investigating the nutritional properties of Australian seaweed. Much like our neighbouring Asian countries, many of our seaweeds are edible and could be on our plates in years to come... I’d give it a go.
The other main event opened the weekend on Friday night; a long-table seafood feast prepared by renowned chef Frank Camorra. Some critiques have labelled his tapas as the “best Spanish food in Australia”. I unfortunately can not attest this as we didn’t arrive until Saturday morning. However, I would still put my money on it, the shellfish was still the talk of town even on Sunday.
We stayed in a cosy cabin at the Apollo Bay Holiday Park for the weekend. It was only 300m to the beach and another 400m to town. Very convenient for getting around, we just walked everywhere. The sun came out to play too. Blessed with warm sunny days and off-shore winds but what else can you expect from Apollo Bay in Summer? To top off the weekend we caught a fabulous sunset at Marriners Lookout. Learn more about my adventure here!