Pearls of Australia

Broken Bay Pearl Farm Tour Review

Right on our doorstep in Sydney who would have known that there is a pearl farm that produces the most valuable and rarest pearls in the world – the Akoya Pearl. We headed to Mooney Mooney on a brilliant blue sky day, just a one hours drive from Sydney, to enjoy the Broken Bay Pearl Farm Tour where we were to learn about the beauty of the Akoya Pearl and the history of pearls.

Akoya Pearls in Australia

Where is the Broken Bay Pearl Farm

Map of Broken Bay Pearl Farm
Broken Bay Pearl Farm Map

The Broken Bay Shellar Door is located at 12 Kowan Road Mooney Mooney just off the M1 north of Sydney.

There are three parts to the Discovery Experience Tour:

Part One – at the Shellar Door learning about the fascinating history of pearling from its indigenous origins in Australia and the rest of the world

Chris our Boat captain and Marina our guide on the Hawkesbury River heading to the pearl oyster leases.

Part Two – a boat cruise from the Shellar Door to the pearl oyster leases cruising past Dangar Island, Spectacle Island and under the Hawkesbury Bridge.

Oyster leases

Part Three – Back at the Shellar Door to learn about the grading techniques and the opportunity to own yourself the lustrous Akoya pearl in beautifully crafted jewellery pieces

We won’t spoil your own experience of the tour with what we learnt on the day about the actual process of cultivating pearls but we will share with you our highlights.

Interesting Facts about Pearls

Did you know that Cleopatra had a wager with Mark Antony that she could host the most expensive dinner and it involved two of the largest pearls in the world at that time?

The indigenous people of Australia were the first pearlers here, they collected and traded pearl shells for thousands of years. Most of the shells were located in the western part of Australia. The shells were used as artefacts.

The oyster shell is used by the indigenous people of Australia to tell their stories of ceremonies, trade and traditions. The carving of the shell is known as ‘riji’. The design on the shell is created by the girls supplying a strand of their hair and the ochre creates the colour. The young men wear their ‘riji’ shell after their initiation process.

Oyster Shell and Riji carvings
Oyster shells and Riji carving

Back in 1000 BC in the Canton region of China, the Chinese were the first to create images of Buddha from small blister pearls.

Natural pearls can take up to 10 years to form.

Mikimoto created a process to be able to culture pearls. He said ” At meeting the Meiji Emperor at Ise Shrine, he declared “I would like to adorn the necks of all women around the world with pearls.”

There was a Pearling Act in place in Australia in 1922 that it was illegal to culture a pearl.

Oysters have a personality, some just don’t want to work!

The blue-ring octopus and the common octopus are predators of the oyster.

Pearls are the only gemstones that are created by a living creature.

In the grading system of pearls there are 7 virtues:

Two of the 7 virtues – colour and shape
  • Colour
  • Size
  • Shape
  • Lustre
  • Surface
  • Two non-visible virtues – purity and provenence

Pearls of Australia – Cygnet Bay Pearls and Broken Bay Pearlsa short history

Pearls of Australia combining Cygnet Bay Pearls and Broken Bay Pearls is the only company that produces the South Sea Pearl (Cygnet Bay Pearls) and Akoya Pearls (Broken Bay Pearls).

Dean Brown arrived in Cygnet Bay in Western Australia in 1946 where he found the Pinctada Maxima pearl shell. Dean Brown was Australia’s pearl pioneer.

Rose & Ian Cripp founded Broken Bay Pearl Farm back in 2003. They had found Akoya shells on rock shelves and in 2003 they undertook the first seeding. Their first harvest commenced in 2005.

James Brown, third generation, invested in Broken Bay Pearl Farm in 2018. He was awarded Farmer of the Year in 2021.

To Book Your Discovery Experience Tour:

Check availability here:

If you only have 1 hour available the Snapshot Experience might be for you. The tour includes the boat ride to the pearl oyster lease, discover how they farm Akoya pearls and learnabout the virtues of a pearl.

The Ultimate Experience

Book direct for the Ultimate Experience: [email protected] or phone +61 488 361 042 or website

The tour includes:

Half day private tour

Scenic cruise of the Lower Hawkesbury

History of pearling in Australia

Discover how Akoya pearls are farmed

Immersive pearl grading

Grazing lunch & oysters

Complimentary Akoya Pearl

Good to know: You can purchase Broken Bay oysters direct from the Shellar Door

Our thanks to Broken Bay Pearl Farm for hosting us for the morning and in particular Marina, Liz and Chris who looked after us so well.

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Conclusion

We hope you have enjoyed our review of Broken Bay Pearl Farm. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Broken Bay Pearl Farm learning more about pearls in Australia and we hope that you do too when you visit.

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More reading:

NSW Travel Guide

NSW Accommodation

A – Z Australian Bucket List experiences

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