What a summer it has been! Coronavirus stopped exports to Asia, where our lobster usually takes pride of place at New Year celebrations, and our fishers found themselves stranded with their catch. An Easterly wind set in and the harbour was blanketed in a sticky fog thick with smoke from the Gippsland fires. Lightning crackled through the cloud starting spot fires in the Otways all around us while down on the beach there was an eerie sense of doom. I came across a man standing bewildered on the sand with his three kids. “What do I do?” he asked me. “Do I just pack up and go home?”
Eventually the East wind lifted, the sun came out and good won out over bad, as it always does in the end (living in such a beautiful place as Apollo Bay makes you an optimist). Thousands of people found their way down the Great Ocean Road to support our local fishers at the Apollo Bay Seafood Festival, which opened with a fantastic dinner by chef Alejandro Saravia – whose new Melbourne restaurant Farmer’s Daughters will be opening in May – featuring abalone, lobster, octopus and flathead as well as some fantastic oysters from our friends up the coast. Saturday was a huge day down at the harbour as crowds jostled to buy fresh catch off the boats and enjoy music, food and drink by the sea.
It seems the low lobster price has reminded people of the amazing food we have here on our doorstep, as visitors have been flocking to rediscover the best in local seafood, the Southern Rock Lobster. It’s a joy to see locals eating half a cray for lunch, celebrating the good things in life after a summer that has been hard for so many of us.
Thanks everyone for standing by our local fishermen – see you soon down at the harbour.