Unlike John Clarke's previous books "Broughton Islanders" and "Old Salt", which had an air of light heartedness, "Oysterman" has a strong thread of human despair woven through a tale of tireless effort in the most trying conditions - farming oysters is incredibly demanding. Oyster growers and their families are tough, tireless and tenacious who work on against the elements and the odds with many potential disasters never far away. All that has been worked and slaved for over the years can simply disappear overnight. This happened on numerous occasions over the 100 years that John researched and is still the case in the industry to this day - it is the very nature of the game.
In many ways "Oysterman" can be seen as a tragedy and John readily admits to not being fully aware of the emotional and financial hardships associated with certain incidences which occurred throughout the history of the industry in Port Stephens.
"As in my previous books humour plays a significant role in "Oysterman" however there wasn't a great deal to laugh about when all you do is work from sun up to sun down every day. I have gained a huge respect for the oyster growers and their dignified womenfolk in this port and have been privileged to have been invited into their homes to share their unique life experiences. On every occasion I was made most welcome, for this I am thankful and wish to extend my appreciation. I certainly learnt a lot in a short time."
"Oysterman" was officially launched on 18th October at Karuah RSL Club with special presentations given by the author at Newcastle,Tea Gardens, Lemon Tree Passage and Nelson Bay. The book is on sale throughout Port Stephens, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley through book shops, newsagencies and from John's website where further information is available.
Cost: $15 (plus package and postage)