This is where you can eat super fresh sea urchins


It shines like a bright yellow autumn leaf that drifts slightly to the ground, but tastes like cool ocean water. Sweet and salty, thick and juicy with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, a slice of sea urchin on the quayside at St Helens on the east coast of Tasmania in Australia is a rare treat.

Diver Cameron Mead cracked open a sea urchin from his daily haul of 500kg before the rest were quickly packed into a refrigerated truck heading south to Hobart. Work doesn’t stop for anyone on the dock, as each captain is keen to keep their Georges Bay catch cool and cool, so the sea urchins don’t lose water. Less water means less weight and they are paid per kilo for this export quality product.

It will not take long to fly off to Asia to delight the guests of top-of-the-range restaurants.

In a satisfying twist on climate change, the invasive long-spined sea urchins that have hitched a ride south on the warming East Australian Current have spawned a lucrative sustainable catch for experienced abalone divers in the region. These prolific ranchers graze on lush kelp habitats to the detriment of local marine life, but fishermen are working hard to reduce their numbers.

Most sea urchins are exported to Asia, but a few end up in local restaurants. At the Japanese/Asian-influenced Raida in St Helens, chef Mark Rogers offers a signature dish of scallop ceviche with sea urchin. Zachary Green, chef/owner of the Waterloo Inn further south in Swansea, says freshly caught sea urchin and abalone from Coles Bay feature on their seasonal rotating menu.

The rivers and seas of Tasmania’s east coast are also teeming with mussels, oysters, crawfish and deep-sea fish. Where can you dine on these delights? Lease 65 on Bay of Fires Road offers meaty, juicy oysters filled with the essence of the sea. Buy them straight from the wharf, freshly shucked for AU$20 (RM62) a dozen. Cash only!

Sea urchin straight off the boat at St Helens in Tasmania, Australia. —KERRY HEANEY

Strap on waders and experience what it’s like to be an oyster farmer on a tour of Freycinet Marine Farm Oyster Bay. You’ll learn how to shuck and eat an oyster paired with a local Riesling and enjoy a bowl of freshly harvested steamed mussels.

Across Coles Bay, Melshell Oyster Shack is a small farm run by three generations of the same family. They are the pioneers of new golden shell Angasi oysters in the region and offer shuck and chat sessions that are all about oysters. Try their Kilpatrick oyster skewers or their oyster pâté.

Bicheno is famous for its freshly caught lobster. Experience an ocean-to-plate lobster roll at the Lobster Shack where chilled lobster pieces are sandwiched in a lightly toasted milk bun with crunchy lettuce and homemade sauce. Or simply feast on fish and chips at the Triabunna wharf.

While the ocean’s harvest is incredible, Tasmania’s east coast offers more than seafood. This coastline, with its blood-red lichen-tinged rocks, bright blue skies and sparkling white sands, begs to be explored. This is a 50km stretch stretching from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point and is an easy day trip from St Helens.

The east coast is also home to Wineglass Bay. It is a curved crescent of sand around incredibly near blue water that is the ultimate eye candy. You can walk there through the Freycinet National Park, but you will need reasonable physical fitness, walking shoes and a few hours. The easiest way is to see it by sea on a cruise. For those unparalleled aerial shots, you can hop on a helicopter or scenic flight.

Razorbills, Tasmanian devils, Australian fur seals and humpback whales are just some of the wildlife inhabitants here. You will see them while walking in the national parks of Freycinet, Douglas Apsley or Mt William or even while strolling on the beach. For a guaranteed wildlife experience, opt for one of the many tours or cruises available.

Delicious lobster roll from The Lobster Shack in Bicheno, famous for its freshly caught lobster.  —KERRY HEANEYDelicious lobster roll from The Lobster Shack in Bicheno, famous for its freshly caught lobster. —KERRY HEANEY

For walkers, there’s the four-day Bay of Fires Walk and the award-winning Maria Island Walk, one of Australia’s best walks.

Getting to Tasmania’s east coast is an easy 82km or one hour drive from Hobart to Orford. This is the southern start of the coastal path to St Helens which is 175km to the north. Download the East Coast Tasmania app for trip planning tips and interactive, zoomable maps that can be used offline.

Tasmania’s east coast is a rare opportunity to sample prime seafood from the crystal clear waters where it grows while touring an incredibly scenic coastline filled with talkative locals. For seafood lovers, it doesn’t get better than that!

Recommendations for travelers: Malaysians visiting Australia are no longer required to self-quarantine upon arrival. Pre-departure tests are also no longer necessary. However, some states in Australia still require all travelers to take a test upon arrival (none for Tasmania!). All Malaysian travelers must also apply for an e-Travel Authorization or e-Visa (best to apply at least a week before your departure date) and complete the Digital Australian Passenger Declaration at least 72 hours before your flight. For more information, visit the Tourism Australia website.


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