By Helen Randell
Port MacDonnell’s Daryl Prunnell is a man on a mission.
He wants to improve the economic growth of South Australia’s South East and encourage the next generation of critical thinkers to stay in the region.
Daryl has a plan to transform a redundant crayfish factory and adjoining land into a fish and rock lobster farm, with additional plans for complementary accommodation, a restaurant, research and development and educational facilities on the site.
Recently, his entrepreneurial thinking and enterprising spirit have seen him win silver at the inaugural Limestone Coast eNVIe Awards.
The win will take him and fellow eNVIe Award winner and Mt Gambier headwear accessories design Ashlee Kalantarian, to Silicon Valley, Austin and New York City to visit other innovative thinkers, learn how to pitch business ideas, and take part in networking opportunities.
The award marks Daryl’s completion of the Venture Dorm program, a course that provides hand-on training for people who want to build and market new ventures.
The Venture Dorm program is run by Flinders University’s New Venture Institute on the Limestone Coast and aims to foster early start-ups and business innovations.
Daryl, who moved back to Mt Gambier from the Northern Territory with wife Irma in 2012, sprouted his aquaculture idea three-four years ago.
“We bought the old factory about four years ago, and when the blocks of land next door came up for sale we bought those as well,” he says.
“During winter, the blocks get inundated with rainwater and groundwater, and I made a comment one day that it was so wet you could grow fish in there.
“Then I started to think – well, actually we could do that…”
Daryl has been undertaking a diverse range of farming practices on their 40ha property, including running pasture-fed free-range chickens for eggs, as well as cross-bred lambs, Black Angus cattle and bees.
“The fish farm is another diversification for us,” he says.
“Back in Darwin I was a very keen fisherman. I was up there during the boom construction period, where everyone had the big toys and the big salaries and the charter companies had enough business to run two charters a day.
“At this time I saw the incredible damage that was being done to the fish populations and the waterways, so I feel like a sustainable fish farm with an educational facility would be popular and beneficial.”
Heading to the US in March 2019, he says he’s looking forward to “meeting and spending time with people who think outside the box”.
Until then, he is hoping to keep the train moving, with funding and investment opportunities coming up.
“Our next step is to commission some concept drawings and have costings completed for the first stages of development,” he says.
“I hope that by March we will be progressing very well, and I would like to think we will be up and running by Christmas 2019.”
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