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.
Where is the Broken Bay Pearl Farm
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
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.
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.
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 non-visible virtues – purity and provenence
Pearls of Australia – Cygnet Bay Pearls and Broken Bay Pearls – a short history
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
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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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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