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Monday, March 15, 2010

Mariner Shells

Sunday was "poodle picnic" day. About every six weeks, we get together with the other dogs from Bella and Lucy's litter at Kelso Beach, close to the mouth of the Tamar river. When the tide is out, the flats extend for a long way and you can see Bass Straight and the Low Head lighthouse across the way.

We always pack a gourmet picnic and it's only a very earnest rain that will keep us away. The dogs run for miles chasing birds they will never catch, splashing through warm shallows and picking up scents. It is a fascinating beach for combing because of the variety of things washed upon the shore. We particularly spend hours looking for the tiny mariner shells as seen above. These grow on a type of seaweed and have luminous shimmering colours. The tradition of stringing mariner shell necklaces is a very old aboriginal custom handed down by the Palawa women. It is a particular skill practiced by only a few Flinder's Island women elders. The shells require cleaning and grading and are strung in patterns and take many hundreds to make a necklace. In the old days they would have used sinews from the kangaroo's tail.

It is thoroughly engrossing and mesmerising, catching glimpses of colour like a flashing peacock feather, ever so tiny. These shells above are no bigger than my little fingernail.


  1. Sounds like a fun Sunday was had by all.

  2. The shells are pretty but it would take hours to collect enough for a necklace ;0)
    The dogs would have had a great time

  3. Sounds like such a fun, relaxing day. I would love to see the beach right now.


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