I thought of calling this 'The mysterious affair at Flinders' - but I am rather more like Inspector Clouseau than Inspector Poirot. You see I haven't yet found a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for Australia - or the collection of locals with local knowledge he managed to find. So much of what we do in our own Fearlessly-eatsitall experiment has to be based on some biological knowledge, a family history of fishing and diving (in very different climes, much of it), a lot of reading and experience cooking, logic, curiousity, asking excessive questions, and experimenting. And Internet research - which yeild rewards if you are good at those sort of puzzles which you do by only seeing a few bits and jiggling and wiggling the rest. It's all logic really. Not just wiggles (although some of what you eat will wiggle, and if you believed the logic part you probably deserve a few wiggles.)
Take for instance my desire to find a common South African (and European, and American) type of bivalve of the Genus Ensis - Popular in Spain, and used for bait in South Africa. The razor clam, AKA pod razor, AKA razor fish, AKA Jack-knife clam, AKA pencil bait/stick bait (South Africa). Now the probability of it not being here had to be real - except I had read somewhere of an Australian sand dwelling clam called a razorfish. No-one I've asked here ever heard of it, but if you search the net you can find pictures of it being collected in SA... South Australia. And it's not the same animal. However the same animal called a finger oyster DOES occur in Australia. There is no clue as to where - but someone suggests that razor clam would be a better common name for these Ensis. And that's as far as we've got, so far, with that one. Having found two "not here" species so far I'll keep looking.
Common names are a menace to the searcher, and I would cheerfully do very nasty things to government beaurocrats who don't check on Latin genus names before calling their projects something like... Ensis. We won't even start on my wild dreams of what I'd like to do to advertising agencies who call themselves for no gastromical/ self-sufficiency logical reason 'Razorfish'. Vogon Poetry is prescribed, I think. And of course I reserve a special spot for the fish called... razorfish. I don't know if I should be mad with the fish or the bivalve namers.
I love this island already, and love the food to be found here, but I keep being stunned by locals either not knowing or not eating the wonderful variety. Or letting it get caught and sold elsewhere. We eat squid (Calamari) a lot. I was horrified to find my dive partner had never caught any - but as he had no background or local pointers he didn't understand the animals and tried to catch them and failed. And he's been here 8 years. When we arrived I applied a bit of South African and biologist experience, stole with my eyes, read up... and we caught. The freezer has its quota, and right now we mustn't catch any more until those are eaten. But there are many more things which are here... and lots of them, that I have yet to find/catch/discover... So we soldier on. I've seen periostracum( the fragile outer layer) covered mussel shells (that do not exist here) and fresh long burrowing bivalves that I can't even ID, but the birds catch but I cannot (so far). I've found in very shallow water areas Doughboy and commercial and queen scallops with the hinge ligament intact - ie they haven't come far, and are still 'new' - no-one dives for them here, but they used to be a dredge business for them (I am for the record, very opposed to dredge harvesting where there is a viable alternative, and believe that dredge grounds must be limited. The destruction of other fauna and habitat is just wasteful. And that's a dirty word to me.) In Southern Tassie recreational diving for Scallops is quite widespread, and I believe it used to be(/is?) done in South Australia.
There is a wealth of wonderful and varied food out there, which, with a bit of common sense, unless you live near a city, is harvestable, and despite not coming from McDonalds is delicious, nutritious and satisfying (and sometimes crunchy and wiggly too). But it seems to me Australia with a wonderful selection of seafood has begun 'modernising' and exploring bush tucker, really needs a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall equivalent to write about it. It'd be bliss to find some good food-related field-guides, especially ones that worked on getting the best of those (sometimes odd and wiggly) flavours into palatable.
It's a grand adventure in the self-sufficency/foraging/gastronmic sense, but I wish I had someone to say "Elementary my dear Watson" when I tried to work out why there are millions on millions of huge cuttle-bones washed onto the beach... and I do love to eat cuttlefish, but I have not found out where or how to catch them yet.