Whether it’s peeling fresh prawns, cracking open a crab, dining on a fresh lobster, slurping up plump mussels, or shucking oysters, everyone has a sweet spot for seafood.
Eating the ocean’s finest bounty is one of life’s simple pleasures, and we know the region thrives on getting together for a community festival, so when we discovered an event that naturally combines the two, it was love. And if the idea of a road trip to a picturesque fishing port to enjoy both sounds appealing, the Apollo Bay Seafood Festival is your Nirvana.
From February 14-16, the festival will be taking over the picturesque Apollo Bay Harbour, where food and travel lovers will be able to feast on pescatarian treats, surrounded by the stunning sea view backdrop of the Great Ocean Road region.
Kicking off on February 14, the day of love, the festivities begin with the annual ‘Ocean To Plate’, a Submerged Gala Dinner hosted by Peruvian chef Alejandro Saravia (Pastuso, Farmer’s Daughters). Widely credited with introducing Peruvian cuisine to Australia’s culture, Alejandro delivers a high-grade Peruvian-focused dining experience that concurrently celebrates locally-sourced ingredients, offering a sustainable approach to sourcing produce year-round. Forget the ridiculously expensive flowers, exuberant soft animal toys, and those desperate, last-minute dinner reservations, and treat your love (or yourself, self-love is important too) to a banquet of share plates, accompanied by drinks and dessert at this delicious gala.
Coined the main event, the Apollo Bay Harbour will transform into an ‘Off the Boat’ Seafood Market on Saturday, February 15 from 10am where festival punters will be able to buy fresh seafood straight off the fishermen who caught the catch. With the spirit of the local fishing community at the heart, being able to buy direct is as fresh as you can physically get and a great way to share the world-class seafood that these fisherman source locally.
As the fresh fish sell out, harbour will then launch into a free and packed day of live music, interactive demonstrations, harbour expeditions, sailing lessons, casting competitions, and pop-up restaurants, boasting delicious lobster rolls, seafood dumplings, huge paella pans, southern rock lobster, abalone sashimi, octopus, freshly shucked oysters among much more.
Think award-winning Oysters from Wapengo Rocks, Yarra Valley Caviar and freshly cooked local Rock Lobsters from The Apollo Bay Fisherman’s Co-Op, as well as Smoked Mussels in whiskey cream sauce by Sticks & Bones BBQ, Seafood Paella by La Bimba, Mushiki Dumplings and delicious squid from Flyying Callamari Brothers. Festival-goers will also be able to quench their thirst with local craft beer Pricky Moses, the finest from Apollo Bay Gin, and cocktails from Boutique Event Co, just to name a few.
For great vibes and music to feast to the sounds of Australia’s best musical acts in the unique setting of the Apollo Bay Harbour with two stages showcasing a wide range of talent, including tropical shaking six-piece Nicky Bomba’s Bustamento, electric four-piece The Beachniks, Ballarat bred band Crepes, Victorian five-piece Sagamore, smart casual jazzy pop experience Dreamin’ Wild, the seasoned muso’s from The Rank Outsiders, and local legends The Fillmores. Full music program to be announced very soon!
The 2020 event will once again host conversation sessions on Sunday 16 February, drawing in a range of speakers including fishermen, scientists, farmers, chefs and Indigenous knowledge keepers to explore the hot button issues that affect the ocean and the land, and how we as humans can live with both in harmony rather than depleting and destroying. Hosted by festival MC’s Richard Cornish and Hilary McNevin and feature special guest speakers including the likes of Matthew Evans from Fat Pig Farm, Bruce, and Jack Pascoe speaking on Learning from Country, Shane Buckley from Wapengo Rocks discussing post-fire land recovery, Lisa Deppler, local activist with Fight for the Bight and Chefs David Moyle, Nick Mahlook and Steve Earl – among many others!
The morning session ‘Submerged in the Ocean’ will have a strong focus on the current state of the ocean and its inhabitants, while the afternoon will see ‘Submerged in the Land’ explore the impact that eating animals – or not – can have on our environment. The session will examine concepts such as using native grains and grasses as future food sources, soil carbon capture and other strategies for farmers.
The Apollo Bay Seafood Festival has grown exponentially over the last six years, now attracting up to 8,000 visitors over a weekend, championing fresh, local seafood and the rugged beauty of the coastal town.
Fun, information and the bounty of Bass Strait over three seafood-filled days, what could be better?
The Apollo Bay Seafood Festival runs from February 14-16. Tickets are now on sale via www.apollobayseafoodfestival.com