Silcrete from Lake Mungo

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July 2014: Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area

Visiting the excavations at the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area and seeing fish middens, burnt hearth sediment and sun setting over the dunes of Lake Mungo. To learn more visit the My Mungo webpage.

 

Overland Corner

The Overland Corner is a nature reserve managed by the National Trust of South Australia and is situated on the Murray River at the Heron Bend Cliffs. The limestones that make up the cliffs are full of fossil oysters, lace corals, sea urchins, lamp shells, snails, cones and cowries. The layering of the cliffs indicate the presence of a warm shallow sea some 15 million years ago and then the retreat of that sea around 5 million years ago, leaving a river and creek system in its place. There are three short self guided walks which take you to quarries where you can see the changing geology and fossils, with bonus Aboriginal sites like canoe trees and an ochre quarry and 19th century hotels, police stations and cemeteries.

Source: The Geological History of Overland Corner, National Trust of South Australia.

June 2014 – Kulcurna Station

Beaut lunch at Kulcurna Station, currently owned by the Hansens. Goat stew, golden syrup dumpling, river gums, the red cliffs of the Murray River.  Back in the day, one of the homestead owners developed drought resistant strains of wheat and put crops in the bed of the river during times of drought (Hansen 2010, Postcards SA). Sadly my camera died so no photos but you can check out Kulcurna’s blog or their photo  gallery or a Kulcurna postcard or sunphio’s Kulcurna flickr album

 

June 2014 – Moorna Station

Moorna Station. Source: Wentworth Shire Council (http://www.wentworth.nsw.gov.au/heritage/study/appendix5.php?id=76)

One of the stops on our tour of the Murray River was Moorna Station. The Moorna Homestead on the station was constructed in 1869 on the Murray River by William Crozer, near to the remains of Moorna town which was once the administrative centre of the Wentworth Shire and an important paddleboat wharf in the 1850s. Today it is a working property owned and managed by Annabel Walsh, a member of the Australian Rangeland Society, whose passion for land management has led to innovations in timed grazing, improving carbon content in soils and taken her to countries such as Mongolia to promote  healthy rangelands. To see more pictures of life on Moorna Station, visit the Land and to read more about the significance of the Moorna homestead and the history Wentworth Shire, visit the Wentworth Shire Council.

June 2014 – Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria, downstream of the Murray-Darling river junction in New South Wales, fed by Frenchman’s Creek, an anabranch of the Murray River, flows into the Rufus River. The Lake became regulated in 1928 and is now operated by the South Australia Water Corporation on behalf of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission. The lake retained water over the last 10,000 years at a time when many of the inland lakes were drying up in this arid region.It provided an off river storage and is used to store surplus water which can then be used to regulate the flow of water into South Australia and to manage salinity. The Lake is significant as it, its lunette and the surrounding creeks and rivers, hold an important cultural and archaeological record of the last 16,000 years of human occupation, from shell middens dating to 17,000 BP to the history of the Rufus River massacre of 1841 to the Barkindji people’s continuing connection to the lake. The archaeological record includes an enormous number of Aboriginal burials, shell middens, campsites and stone artefacts. Many sites have been inundated by the water storage and work is ongoing by the Murray Darling Basin Commission and the Aboriginal community to preserve and repatriate burials when they become exposed. TheDepartment of Environment provides a leaping off point to explore more about indigenous involvement in the management of Lake Victoria.

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March 2014 – River walk along the Murrumbidgee at Balranald

It was a dark and stormy afternoon along the Murrumbidgee River.

It was a dark and stormy afternoon along the Murrumbidgee River.


Limpets

There are ubiquitous limpets in the sea and in my collection. Initially when I started writing this post, I had a negligible level of interest in limpets. I liked their stripes and sometimes their shape but otherwise they were just one of those shells I collected hundreds of as an eight-year old. But then I saw this dude and I thought, hey, he’s kinda neat.

Patelloida from Des Beechey’s Seashells of New South Wales (Beechey 2012)

Unsurprisingly limpets were exploited by Aboriginal people all along the eastern coastline of Australia and are often found in shell middens. A summary of common shellfish found in the middens of coastal Sydney can be read on the Australian Museum Website. For a more specific example, limpets were excavated from shell middens in the Royal National Park (Attenbrow 2010).

I think most of the limpets in my collection belong to the following classification:

Species: tramoserica
Genus: Cellana
Family: Nacellidae
Order: Patellogastropoda
Phylum: Mollusca

For all the gastropod glory, I don’t think I’ll bother too much with cleaning the limpets unless I am inspired to undertake shell craft.  Not so long ago I was in the Powerhouse museum and saw some of the delightfully kitsch shell craft harbour bridges made by Lola Ryan. Here’s the accompanying paper discussing shell craft by Aboriginal women at La Perouse and the shell craft economy.

Shell of the Day – Scutus Antipode

CLARE: I can’t believe how excited I am about this project. I’ve been itching for 5pm since 9am.

GENERAL (imaginary) AUDIENCE: But Clare, everybody wishes work was over on a Friday.

CLARE: But most people on Friday wish work was over for parties and friends and alcoholic beverages.

GENERAL (imaginary) AUDIENCE: And sleep, you forgot sleep.

CLARE: … and for sleep. But I wanted work to be over for this….

Have you seen anything so damn bloody adorable?? Look at his little eye! (Source: Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary, click for link). I haven’t been this overwhelmed by cuteness since fighting Diablo in Act IV of Diablo II. And I’ve spent a lot of unnecessary hours looking at little bunnies at Cute Overload.

The elephant slug is actually a marine snail that grazes on algae and belongs to the same family (Fissurellidae) as key-hole limpets.  They often turn up in Aboriginal shell middens in Victoria. The black flesh was cut away to eat the muscular foot (Museum of Victoria). I believe all of my specimens of elephant slug/snail come from NSW.

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Scutus Antipode in my collection

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For Katie…

Yanga Woolshed and Homestead

The next weekend after an eventful trip to Broken Hill was spent in a whirlwind trip to Swan Hill (the highlight of which was dropping a bottle of creaming soda and it then proceeding to spray frothy creaming soda all over me. The lid had broken and thus the onslaught could not be stopped) and a trip to the Yanga homestead and its woolshed.

Yanga Woolshed. The interpretation and presentation of local history was excellent.

Now try and imagine this photo with no water for my trip to Yanga homestead in 2009.