Northwest Victoria’s only native fish hatchery produces exceptional Murray cod for the table. 

When former chef Gavin Maynard was asked to look after his best mate’s Murray cod while his mate went away on holidays, he didn’t know his life was about to change. Mildura man Michael Matthews kept the fish in tanks in a shed as a hobby, and he asked Maynard to feed them and keep an eye on them. Maynard agreed – “I’d always wanted to work in a fish hatchery.”  

When Matthews returned from his holidays, he sat down and convinced Maynard to go into business with him, breeding and growing out Murray cod.  

Five years on, North West Aquaculture, as the pair named their business, is now the only native fish hatchery in the northwest of Victoria. It’s licensed to supply NSW farmers with stock of not only native Murray cod, but also native silver perch and golden perch. 

But it’s their Murray cod catching the attention of Victorian chefs. Celebrated Mildura chef Stefano de Pieri swears by the delicious fish. They’re meaty, tasty without being earthy, and rich in texture without being too fatty.  

The cod are raised in large freshwater dams on Matthews’ and Maynard’s respective farms on the outskirts of Mildura. Fed by irrigation water pumped from the Murray, the grow-out dams contain about five megalitres of water and cover an area roughly the size of one-and-a-half tennis courts. It takes two years to raise a Murray cod from egg to a plate size of 1.2 kg.  

Almost all of North West Aquaculture’s Murray cod is sent south to Melbourne Seafood Centre and sold by McLaughlin seafood wholesalers. 

“Steamed, baked, fried, they’re brilliant,” says Maynard. “But the flesh is so good I just take a fillet, dust it in seasoned flour, and fry it in a little oil and butter. Delicious.”, contact Gavin Maynard.