Gayle is a retired accountant and a photography enthusiast living on Victoria's beautiful Bass Coast. Gayle is passionate about writing and keen to showcase Aussie culture to a global audience. Gayle loves her family, dogs, sunsets, and chocolate.
Published July 28th 2016
Over 6,000 Weird and Wonderful Things To See
Yes, there are indeed many shells at the Inverloch Shell Museum but there is so much more than that. It would be easy to miss some of the delights of this child friendly space housed within the Bunurong Environmental Centre so pause a while, look, feel and play.
1. The Touch Table: Front and centre as you enter the Shell Museum is the Touch Table. Here the glass cases are dispensed with and children and adults alike are invited to pick up, feel and examine at close quarters a variety of shells and marine objects. Specimens range from small shells that can be cupped in a toddler's hand to others longer than two adult hand spans. There are conical shells, flat shells, sea snail shells, kauri shells and scattered amongst them are pieces of coral, seahorses and crab shells.
2. Sea Creatures: Behind the touch table is the complete shell of a King or Giant Crab and what a fearsome creature he seems. These crabs can grow to a whopping 15kgs. This is just one of many sea creatures in the museum. In jars of preserving fluid are nautilus, which without their shells appear very much like an octopus. Study the shelves of seahorses and sea dragons. Can you tell the difference? Scattered throughout are crabs, small and large, including a number of very peculiar horseshoe crabs. See if you can find the case containing the jaws of some very large fish. Can you spot the starfish on the walls?
3. Shell Art: These days we tend to leave shells in their natural environment but this was not always so and in years past some rather impressive shell sculptures and carvings were done. The museum displays a shell castle believed to be more than 100 years old. It is so detailed there are curtains in the windows. In another case is a shell house made in England in 1886. Shells with cameo carvings demonstrate great skill. Then there are the fun things; shell mice, shell frogs, shell swans and shell bunnies to mention but a few.
A Shell House Built in 1886 (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
4. The Shell Collections: There are more than 6,000 items on display in the museum. Glass cases line the walls and fill the room. Sourced predominantly from private collections, shells from around Australia and the world are featured. See shells with claw like protrusions or the long pipe like shells of slit worms. Marvel at spiral shells from Japan that are reminiscent of sword fish and the colourful and sometimes spotted, shiny cowrie shells. Complicated white wentletrap shells show nature to be a fine sculptor. With thousands to look through just imagine what you will find.
Over 6,000 items on Display (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
5. Dinosaur Display: Inverloch is renowned for dinosaur fossils and annual digs are held here. Samples and replicas of some of the area's dinosaur bone finds are displayed in cases in the education room. The children will love this place.
Fun for the Children in the Dinosaur Education Room (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
At one end of the room a dinosaur video plays. In boxes on tables children can play with fern leaf fossils, casts of dinosaur footprints, dinosaur claws, a raptor foot bone, dinosaur jaws, a replica T-Rex tooth and more. Paper and crayons are provided for tracings and drawings. In a small sandpit in a corner children can dig up bones for themselves. Maps, charts and dinosaur toys round off the experience. During school holidays the Centre runs free activities for children in the education room.
6. Minerals, Crystals and Aboriginal Artefacts: There is a glass display case in the shop just outside the door to the dinosaur education room. Do not pass it by as it is somewhat of a mini museum. On the one shelf are minerals and crystals found in the Bass Coast region and on another are aboriginal artefacts discovered in the area.
7. Book and Gift Shop: Fronting all of these marvels and run by the South Gippsland Conservation Society is the shop. Here you will find a vast array of books about shells, dinosaurs, plants animals, birds, gardening and so much more. There are children's books through to beautiful coffee table books. Pick up some souvenirs; little bags of shells, china mugs with painted Australian designs, soaps and oils, homewares, crafts and postcards.
See the Weird and the Wonderful (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Surprised, of course you are so why not make it a day trip. There is a park next door with BBQ's and a children's playground, coffee shops and eateries are just across the road and the beach is but a couple of minutes' walk away. There are public toilets at the Centre.
The Bunurong Environment Centre and Shell Museum are at the Corner of Ramsey Boulevard and The Esplanade at Inverloch, which at only around two hours' drive from Melbourne's CBD or just over an hour and a quarter from the south eastern suburbs along the scenic Bass Coast Highway is a nice day trip. The Centre and Museum are open from 10am to 4pm Friday to Monday or every day during school holidays. They can be contacted on (03) 5674 3738. The Environment Centre is free to enter and the Shell Museum entry (July 2016) is $2.