Meet the fruit-eating, free-range ducks of Great Ocean Duck farm

A flock of white ducks sunning themselves in a grassy paddock

Nicola Dowse

Posted June 22, 2022

There are plenty of happy quackers on this free-range, coastal duck farm that supplies some of Melbourne’s top restaurants. 

Imagine getting to spend all day eating and drinking as much as you like while swanning about in a lush green paddock.

That’s just daily life for the 1,500 Argyle and Pekin ducks at Great Ocean Ducks, a free-range duck farm on the Great Ocean Road.  

Jodi Clarke, owner of Great Ocean Ducks, says that the lush, windswept landscape is perfect for rearing calm and cheerful ducks. “We pride ourselves on trying to produce happy animals and not stressed animals,” Clarke says.  

“For us, it’s really important that they’re not stressed and they’re just cruising around on their own.”

Paddock to Plate: free-range duck farming on Victoria’s coast | Great Ocean Ducks

Ducks in a row

Having happy animals makes a big difference to Jason Camillo, Executive Chef at RACV Club, as well. 

“They put a lot of care and love into producing ducks,” Camillo says. “The quality of the ducks and the flavour of the ducks is much better than something that‘s been mass produced.”

For the Clarke family and their ducks, it’s important that sustainability is also kept at the forefront of operations. The farm grows and dries its own hay for duck bedding, and once it’s been soiled, returns the hay to the fields to return the nutrients back to the earth. 

Rainwater is also collected (“Ducks drink a lot more water than you’d think,” quips Clarke) and used to nourish the fruit trees planted in each field – those trees in turn providing food and shelter to the ducks. 

“Sustainability is really important for small farming,” Clarke says.

“We don’t have money to go and buy all these other things. We need to grow it here so that the business can look after itself financially.”


A white duck in a field

Great Ocean Ducks is home to 1,500 birds who spend their days waddling about in green fields. Image: Shannon Morris

Only the best will do 

Great Ocean Ducks might be based on the Great Ocean Road, but they’ve found popularity in Melbourne.

At laneway bar and restaurant Sojourn, sous chef Callum Nugent says one of the most successful dishes is the Great Ocean Road free-range confit duck legs with tamarind chili glaze.

It’s one of Nugent’s favourite dishes, too.

“I think that dish is a really good representation of seasonal produce at the moment,” Nugent says. 

 “You have ethically raised ducks paired with locally grown oranges, two unique suppliers, and that’s inspiring.”


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