A decade ago Russell Sydenham took the plunge into trout production and his gamble is paying off.
Story and photo by Chris Pritchard
The more Russell Sydenham mulled over the option, the more the tree change made sense. A move to the bush from Gosford on the New South Wales Central Coast was becoming increasingly irresistible.
Despite a flourishing business selling IT advice and consumables (paper, inks and the like), Russell daydreamed about a new life in aquaculture. Rainbow trout – so called because of their colouring – were top of his mind. He enjoyed both catching and eating them. This species, he acknowledges, is a tiny part of Australia’s aquaculture scene. “People farm salmon and barramundi, but oysters are far and away the biggest product in this niche,” he says.
Aged 60, Russell had to move quickly. He searched Australia for a trout farm for sale. It was relatively easy: there were four producers in New South Wales, a few in Tasmania but most – around 15 – were in rural Victoria. He found a successful farm for sale west of Port Macquarie, NSW, with the founders wanting to retire.
Russell visited, checked the operation carefully, and bought the 200-hectare property with the encouragement of his wife Meg. The couple moved to the place they renamed Arc-En-Ciel (French for rainbow) a decade ago. Besides involving himself in the promotion of nearby Nundle’s charms, Russell set about aggressively relaunching the business under the Arc-En-Ciel brand. Its trout products are now available in upscale delicatessens across the country. He recently launched an allied business, Nundle Smokehouse, which produces smoked duck and chicken products using meat bought in.
Arc-En-Ciel produces 15 tonnes of fish annually: fresh trout, plain smoked trout fillets, smoked trout pâté, thinly sliced trout gravlax, a range of flavoured vacuum-packed smoked trout fillets, smoked trout and yabby bisque, and trout caviar.
This story excerpt is from Issue #111
Outback Magazine: Feb/March 2017