Oyster farming on the Nambucca River in NSW has taken on a multicultural flavour with the arrival in Gumma of French oyster farmers Nicolas and Delphine Tessier.
And not just any French oyster farmers - Nicolas is a fifth generation farmer hailing from one of the country's premier oyster growing regions, Marennes-Oléron, where oysters are bred in offshore (Atlantic) ocean beds and then matured in shallow ponds called claires, dating back to the time of Louis XIV.
So what has brought them to this part of the world? ... well, mainly its the climate and the lifestyle! Here is their story:
"I grew up with the oysters and worked with my parents for many years. After my father died in 2002 I was managing the business on my own, it was not a good time as the market was overstocked and the prices were very low," Nicolas said.
"You were working seven days a week for nothing, so we decided it was time to sell the business - it was of course a very hard decision but my mother understood."
Nicolas already had connections with the oyster industry in Ireland, so it was there the couple decided to move to with their two sons (six and two at the time), their dog, a cat and no English.
"We bought a farm on the west coast of Ireland in County Mayo ... farmers there treated oysters as more of a hobby, so it was a great place for us to build up the business.
"We had a business partner in France - we would grow the oysters from seed to 1.5 years and then send them to France for finishing. It worked really well - at the height of the season we were employing up to 10 people."
But after 10 years the terrible weather took its toll on their enthusiasm.
"It was always raining and windy, we were always wearing our thick jackets - everyone was very friendly and the kids were very happy but I spent my life in the car taking them to sport and all around ... it was enough," Delphine said.
So in 2014 the couple started looking further afield.
Their criteria couldn't have been clearer - good climate for them and for oysters, safe place for the children and access to good education.
Spain and Portugal were out as that meant another language from scratch.
Next on the list was the USA (not safe for the children) and then New Zealand (a bit too cold). They had a look at Tasmania (a definite 'no' to the weather from Delphine) and then the east coast of Australia.
They travelled up the coast from Melbourne to Brisbane checking out bays and oysters farms along the way. Nicolas was particularly attracted to the idea of working with Sydney Rock oysters, as that was something new and a challenge.
A business in Port Macquarie ticked all the boxes so the family returned to Ireland and began dismantling their life there. In early 2017 they moved back to France for a brief stay with family before relocating downunder - everything was organised including transporting their pets and school enrolments.
But then their best laid plans were thrown into disarray ... an email arrived saying the Port Macquarie business had been sold to someone else.
"We were devastated - we didn't know how to tell the kids," Delphine said.
It was the beginning of a difficult time, which included the extended painstaking process of waiting for their business innovation visa (still to be completely finalised).
"We were stuck in France for a year - it was very hard for the kids who had left their lovely life in Ireland. We kept looking for an oyster farm ... we put an ad on the internet, "French oyster farmers looking for an oyster farm".
"We came here in August 2018 to have a look at this farm in Gumma that was owned by Richard and Theresa Barry. In September we got a phone call to say we could buy it. We arrived here in January last year."
It was a huge change, not least for Nicolas, who had never farmed on a river before.
There was also the small matter of when and how we eat our oysters.
"You like your oysters in summer when they are creamy, but this is when they are ready to spawn and in France we do not eat them at this time in their cycle.
"We eat our oysters after this period, in the months that end in 'r' - September, October, November, December ... so they are still a Christmas treat but it is winter over there."
The first year of business was good - the drought meant the water stayed clear and salty and the oyster stock they bought from Wooli was growing well.
"This river is so full of life and nutrients - this is our garden."
The recent rains were a first for them, closing the river and putting a stop to harvesting plus there have been added delays caused by sewage spills at East St in Macksville, which means a mandatory 21 day closure.
It is frustrating but the couple have not been idle - there is still plenty to do, such as completing their first 'raft' and taking delivery of the $150,000 machine that will make the work of washing, sorting, counting, weighing and packing the oysters a much easier job.
"It is only the two of us, so we are happy with our progress so far."
Ute Schulenberg is a journalist with the Guardian News which services the Nambucca Shire on the Mid North Coast of NSW.
"I chose this story for two reasons ... firstly because I found the discussion of oyster farming techniques in different countries fascinating. And secondly because following this happy moment, COVID-19 hit and the market for locally-grown oysters dried up overnight.