Shell Hill Reserve
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South Australia is unique in many ways, and is one of these. Believed to be the only shell deposit of its type in the whole of the Southern Hemisphere, it attracted my attention, and I thought I'd take a better look.
is located between Walker Flat and Black Hill, sitting above the banks of the Marne River. Shell Hill is estimated to be over 5 million years old, and consists of a deposit of oyster shells that is up to 6 metres thick in some places. Shell Hill was originally part of a shallow sea that occupied the Murray Basin all those millions of years ago.
This deposit of oyster shells was discovered early in the 20th century, and soon thereafter a firm called Ellis & Clarke commenced mining the shells from 1931, converting them into lime and selling them to local farmers as fertiliser. The mine lasted only a few years, before becoming uneconomic due to the maintenance costs associated with grinding the tough oyster shells. A second attempt to mine the shells started in 1942 and lasted four years.
Over the years, souvenir hunters acquired some of the shells, and continued the process of demolishing this unique site. After several more years, the Mid Murray Council took control of the site, has fenced off the large central oyster shell deposit to prevent further degradation, and installed information boards, picnic seats and walking trails.
There are four walking trails of varying distance with the longest being around 3km and encompassing the whole reserve. The walk encompasses magnificent vistas of the Marne River Valley and the surrounds, the Marne River itself and of course the oyster shells which are now wide spread following the past activities on the site.
The shorter walks provide different perspectives of the site with wildflowers on display throughout late winter and spring, and wombats, echidnas and various birds active for most of the year. The walks are all well sign posted, and are defined as easy to moderate.
is open all year round and is free to visit. There are no facilities or drinking water at the Reserve, but there are some picnic tables. The Reserve is approximately 10km northwest of Walker Flat. Further details are available at the Reserve or from the Mid Murray Council website
with a small brochure also available from the Mannum Visitor Information Centre
184736 - 2023-06-16 02:26:58