I don't even remember if it was an accident when I first discovered Holberts oyster shop several years ago. Off the beaten track, on a dead-end road in an industrial estate. Somebody told somebody else who told another person who told me about this place to get fresh oysters.
Driving down Diemars Road in Salamander Bay, you pass a modern-like subdivision, go up a rise and see a quarry to the left. On the other side, it feels like an industrial estate, but turn right and you'll notice the flat, green lawn on the left immediately.
And here we are: A small, brick building with a beautiful lawn and picnic tables with a view of Cromarty Bay, across to Muddy Point to the west, and further to Lemon Tree Passage.
It's worth it. We are talking fresh, world-class Sydney rock oysters. Fat. Juicy. Shucked. The taste of the wild sea, seeping into your sensory glands.
Bring your own bottle of wine, or buy a drink in the shop. You can have a virtual feast - you would be jealous if somebody described this experience as part of their holiday.
The Holberts have been oyster farmers for five generations. They've got locations all over Port Stephens and farm every day. The store is only closed on Christmas Day.
Some of the very best oysters come from Cromarty Bay. The best growing location varies with the weather and thus, the Holberts have leases far and wide in Port Stephens. "We've got some 20 kilometres up little rivers you wouldn't even know are there,” says Guy Holbert. “We have different locations for growing, fattening, spawning. We are constantly moving them around."
For morning tea, the staff often enjoy oyster sandwiches, a family tradition. Fresh bread and butter with oysters.
"There's not too many days off around here if your name is Holbert," he says.