In the sand dunes behind Nangudga Beach, someone has stretched green netting, now raggedy and tumbling down, obviously intended once upon a time to mark a site of some sort. And there it is: a shell midden, layers of shell remains and bands of black ash. Here the Ancestors lived for many centuries, maybe as long as thousands of years, on rich pickings from the sea, sitting by cooking fires overlooking the ocean, leaving ash traces of their fires and shell traces of their meals. Not longer than 8000 years at this particular spot: it was kilometres inland in the last ice age. Their life here ended when settlers moved them onto reserves and established properties on their territory, at least as late as 1895 on this bit of coastline.
That’s on Saturday. On Sunday we return to Glasshouse Rocks / Cemetery Beach. At the foot of the track down from the cemetery there is a mound of rocks and my camera is drawn to the large shells scattered amongst them. As the hillock thins and the rock pile becomes shallower, I notice big shells congregating at the point where the dunes meet the beach. I raise my eyes, and there again is that line of ash, those shell fragments. This time the line goes a long way, the length of this cove north, around the chevrons sharp in the grey light, and continuing further south. It hides behind grass stems and we speculate that it stretches up the hill under the bush now growing above us. We decide to leave further exploration for another day: we’re not prepared for snakes and ticks. But we now have yet another focus for our attention in the landscape where we live.