Koori coast

Continuity and change

In the past many practices of Koori culture were discouraged by Europeans and sometimes actively suppressed by missionaries and schools. But knowledge was passed on, often by mothers to their children alongside other activities, like the collecting of shells for tourist art.

Harbour bridge
Shell Sydney Harbour Bridge made by
Esma Timbery, 2006.
Shell slippers made by
Phyllis Stewart, 2007.

The women collected blue shells on the rocks at Kurnell - you had to boil them because they had a fish inside. We called them 'gubbens' you'd get them off the rock with a knife. There was also 'fans' - all colours, they looked like a fan. The men would come back and have something to eat and then we'd catch the last ferry home.
Esme Timbery

Linda Cruse   Linda Cruse remembers her mother’s shellwork:
We used to pick up shells on the beach and bring them home to my mother. She’d always be going to the beach to collect shells even when we were at Bodalla… she had special beaches where she’d collect them and special names. She knew them all but I can’t remember them. Linda Cruse
Linda Cruse

Jodie Stewart remembers being told stories while collecting shells with her grandmother.
My grandmother, she used to collect shells and make harbour bridges, and booties. And that was a part of their livelihood, they used to do that as a pastime. So that would help them bring in food, and whatever they needed to spend their time to get to these places. So she’d sit there for days on the beach, and we’d be with her ....(Full transcript)
Jodi Stewart

Passing on knowledge to a younger generation isn't always easy. Aboriginal Heritage Conservation Officer, Graham Moore, remembers a time in his life when he didn't want to know about his Koori culture.
As a young boy I had all my uncles and aunties and it was forever ..., and we come from a very large family. Mum was one of thirteen. So I had all these aunties and uncles and they associated with the other families as well. So when I was a youngfellah I was taught different things by uncle, and uncles, depending where we were and what we were doing. Hunting, for example, tracking, different types of tracks he’d show me in the sand for different types of animals. But as I got older ...(Full transcript)
Graham Moore