Very close to the northern tip of the Dampier peninsula are two interesting places to visit. The first is the Trochus hatchery, at Long Arm point, where the Trochus shells are bred. Unfortunately for us the hatchery was closed but Jack, from Goombaragin Eco resort, who works there gave us an insight to the place, and if we get to return we’ll definitely check it out.
The Trochus shell is a conical shell that has many uses, from ornamental (when polished) to make-up and even providing the metallic allure in certain paints. The hatchery also has a number of fish tanks where you can see barramundi, monkey fish (jawfish) and archer fish.
We headed back down the coast a few kilometres to Cygnet Bay to the oldest cultured pearl farm in Australia. It commenced in the mid 1940’s and remains one of only three Australian pearl farms still in operation, thanks to their continued passion, research and development in the industry. Their showpiece is the largest cultured pearl in the world with a diameter of 22.24mm for which they have refused a couple of offers in the millions.
Before our tour we took in the views over the bay from the lookout (still no crocodiles spotted), then the kids jumped in the pool for a quick dip to cool down.
The tour included an overview of the industry from origins to the modern day, a video from old footage in the 50’s, an overview of the operations and pearl lifecycle, then included opening a pearl oyster, extracting it, getting it assessed for quality and priced. Finding out about shape quality, lustre and skin feel was fascinating and our pearl turned out to be valued at $600. Hannah couldn’t be persuaded to swallow it discretely! A very interesting and educational afternoon indeed.