Meet our Farmers
Proudly Australian owned and operated, East 33 works with and supports the craft of generations of oyster farming families, each with their own rich legacy and over 130 years of expertise. It’s our farmers and their knowledge and expertise spanning over 130 years that make East 33’s Sydney Rock Oysters the world’s best. We invite you to meet them and hear their stories.
Anthony’s passion for oyster farming stemmed from a love of the ocean and aquatic life. Frequently visiting oyster farms of family friends from a young age, his passion and interest in oyster farming was sparked early in life. Spending much of his life diving and exploring the oceans around New South Wales, Anthony said as soon as he had the chance to start oyster farming he leapt at the chance, purchasing his first lease in 1992, and commenced farming in 1995
Introducing first generation farmer Tony Troupe from Camden Haven. Tony began oyster farming after a fascination with aquaculture was sparked while completing his Marine Biology degree, this then led to Tony commencing oyster farming in 1980. Tony expanded his knowledge with a Masters of Science degree and from 2005 became involved with the NSW Breeding Program, installing a nursery to-on-growjuvenile hatchery-bred oysters. Later, in 2012, Tony developed a Sydney Rock Oyster hatchery system where he could breed oysters in a controlled environment. Today, Tony is the East 33’s Head of Hatchery and his knowledge continues to pioneer the Sydney Rock Oyster and the East 33 legacy.
East 33 Farmer Brad Verdich has grown up surrounded by oyster farms. As a third generation oyster farmer, you could say it was in his blood. After high school, Brad took a break from oyster farming to obtain his pilot's licence and train as an aircraft mechanic before returning to his family oyster farm in his late twenties.
East 33’s Head of Farming Steve Verdich is a second-generation NSW oyster grower. The Verdich family has farmed Sydney Rock Oysters in various estuaries along the NSW coast since the late 1930s. The family established themselves in the Wallis Lake area more than 50 years ago, while continuing to farm in multiple estuaries to take advantage of the differing growing conditions.
Phil and Anthony Sciacca
Anthony and Phillip Sicacca uphold their family’s legacy with a long-held passion for Sydney Rock Oyster farming since 1889. Their farm, spread across Wallis Lake, is in the best possible position to deliver a premium product. Unlike other businesses, the Sciacca’s use no mechanical graders; each oyster is grown, handled, finished and delivered by hand, allowing Mother Nature and the passing of the seasons to grow their exceptional oysters. You can taste the heritage and care in each one.
Mark Polson from Oxley Island is one of the region's 2nd generation oyster farmers, having found a love for oyster farming 35 years ago that stemmed from a small shore lease. Mark’s production has continued to grow and excel, and the knowledge and cultivation of oyster farming is set to pass down to his sons.
Introducing Robert Diemar, East 33’s fifth generation Sydney Rock Oyster farmer from Port Stephens. Born with oyster farming in his blood, Robert’s family’s legacy and story soon became his own, having worked since 1972 in the industry. Robert’s intergenerational knowledge and paramount expertise marks him as one of the industry’s most regarded farmers with a renowned product.
As one of the earliest pioneering families Percival James Melville Browne arrived in Port Stephens in 1886 establishing the farming operation. After the Great Flood of 1916-1919 the Browne turned solely to oyster farming with Percival’s son Harry Remington Browne (“HR”) acquiring the families their first official leases in 1920. HR worked the leases with his son John Benson Browne who today at the age of 86 still frequents the oyster farm weekly. John’s son and East 33 farmer Glenn Brown took over operation some 35 years ago making Glenn one of the longest continuous family line of active oyster farmers to this day.
With a name like Jack Salt, perhaps it was destiny that called when he arrived in the oyster industry. Jack left school at 15, where he discovered a passion for oyster farming, and after seven years Jack started his own oyster business. Jack’s level of care and attention to the entire oyster growing process has made Jack Salt and his Pambula-grown Rock Oysters among East 33’s picks for the very best the region has to offer. Jack’s oysters have a delicious creaminess and carry a distinct saltiness.
Adi Pinkerton is a proud first-generation Sydney Rock Oyster farmer and has turned his oyster business into a family business, bringing his brother and nephew into the fold in recent years. Adi was introduced to Sydney Rock Oyster farming whilst working as a chef in Merimbula. He was drawn to the idea by the prospect of spending time outdoors amongst the saltwater and the elements. He describes his time on the water as ‘working in the world’s best office’.
Adi and his family have three farms and use the latest technology and techniques to grow his oysters in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way. Adi uses three lakes in his oyster growing process. His farm at Bermagui is for catching wild spat, Pambula for growing out juveniles and Merimbula to shape and finish his oysters. It’s this unique technique that has made Adi’s oysters some of the finest that East 33 is proud to feature.
Stirling Cullenward truly embodies the nature-loving heart of an Aussie farmer. Having worked previously as a station manager looking after livestock for many years, Stirling had an urge to own his own business and work for himself. 15 years ago, there were great opportunities to enter the oyster industry as mechanization and efficient growing techniques were evolving rapidly. Today, Stirling Oysters is run single-handedly by Stirling, who loves the freedom this industry provides.
Based on the shores of the picturesque Clyde River is farmer Audrey Thor, one of the industries leading female oyster farmers. After her transition from corporate life to join the Sydney Rock Oyster farming community nearly 30 years ago, Audrey has built her business from the ground up and is one of the few females to take this venture on solo. Having spent several years on the Australian Aquaculture Council, with Award winning Sydney Rock Oysters, Audrey’s oysters encapsulate the unique merroir of the Clyde River and highlight the natural nuances of the SRO.
Shane purchased his property in 1992, and began oyster farming in 1995 after observing his neighbour, a veteran oyster farmer. Shane was fascinated with the opportunity of calling the water his office, and jumped at the chance.
Originally from Western Australia, Graham's love of oyster farming came through an introduction with a friend. Once out on the water, Graham fell in love with the industry and is now proud to have been farming for 10 years at Wapengo lake.