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  • Tasmanian Tektite - Darwin Glass

    Darwin Glass is an impactite tektite 800 odd thousand years ago a large meteorite hit the west coast of Tasmania . Due to the heat and pressure waves generated as this meteorite hit the ground the base rocks of quartzite and slate were instantly melted and splashed out and solidified into a silica rich glass . Resulting in the famous darwin glass ,Tasmania's Moldavite . Found in colours ranging from white to black and various shades of green,including a beautiful transparent olive green.Darwin glass is unique in the world of impact tektites as part of its composition includes the original meteorite,both nickel and iron as well as chromium are included in it. Life has also recently been found in the vesicles of the glass by my friend Doctor Kieran Howard who has extensively studied the glass. The Rare and Beautiful has bought several old collections of glass collected in the 1960s and 70s before the area was included in the world heritage  area and collecting was banned.We have also collected glass from areas outside of the park boundary .

     

    In January 2014 our family decided to walk in to Darwin crater. Our 6 year old son is very interested in meteorites and wanted to see the impact crater from where it landed. A work colleague and friend from Tas Uni who helped map the crater in the 1970s drew us a map and off we went. The track in was very wet to say the least with many trees fallen across it. After an hour of bush bashing we gave up. Both our 3 and 6 year olds were over it , mud up to their knees heaps of blood sucking leeches and a few large tiger snakes convinced us to reluctantly head home. We didn't see any of the famous glass . A few weeks later we decided to give it another go, back into the mud we went and two hours later we made it to the end of the track. As the area is dense rainforest and the crater is full of sediment it was unfortunately unrecognisable, much to the disappointment of our two boys who were expecting a giant circular hole. We saw some small pieces of glass in the roots of an up turned tree but it certainly wasn't plentiful like we had read.  We headed out to escape the Mosquitos and leeches and saw several large tiger snakes and a copper head on the track. The only creatures in this forest all wanted to bite us. As soon as we were out of the world heritage area we decided to search for some glass specimens, we climbed a likely looking hill and after an hour or so of fossicking around we found an easterly facing slope with some lovely glass specimens, some of a decent size and some lovely green pieces very much like moldavites.

     

     

     

    The SW world heritage are of Tasmania where the crater is located is in dense rainforest ,surrounded by majestic mountains,an area that receives more than 3 meters of rain per year.  For those that would like to know more about Darwin Glass Dr Kieren Howard has written some excellent papers on this magical impact tektite.

  • Hobart Antiques Fair

     This Is our last day of trading at the Hobart Antiques Fair which is held in the stunning old City Hall. We have had some fun over the past 6 days and meet some interesting people with great stories. Thank You to all our loyal customers that we see each year and Thank You to all our new collectors.

     

      

  • A hard slog to Lamalera

    My friend Kim Akerman Is an interesting guy. I told him we were visiting east Indonesia and he suggested we visit Lamalera village on Lembata Island. As I'd always loved the textiles from there I decided we'd give it a go . We jumped on the ferry to the solar archipelago after a great 2 week stay on Flores .The ferry was loaded Indonesian style ,till it only just floated ! The only other tourists were a couple of Italian doctors also heading to Lamalera . The ferry left port for the 5 hour crossing ,the scenery was amazing ,smoking volcanos on rugged dry islands ,deep clear water ,fish and dolphins

     

     

     

     

    One of the doctors decided that if we caught a local boat from Adonara Island to Lamalera we would save having to spend the night in the north of the island ,and an 8 hour 4 WD  trip across to Lamalera . Wise thinking . We arrived at Adonara  after about 3 hours, young kids swam and jumped off the pier. They all treated us in the same manner, shouting F… you mister ! with middle fingers raised. We should have taken the message and stayed on the ferry but we got off . Our ferry disappeared into the distance as we startd to haggle for a boat. The people here were not happy, no one wanted to take us to Lembata . After a few hours of being surrounded by an angry mob we finally arranged a young guy to drive his fathers boat. The bay was full of boats, but of course ours was the worst. We headed off put putting our way into the unknown, catching tuna as we went for the skippers family. After about 3 hours we came to the western end of Lembata island and just stopped. For the next 5 hours we went nowhere except for a few spins in whirlpool eddies. The tide just roared through like a river. I asked the skipper how long? He said he didn't know he'd never been to Lamalera before. Great! The tide stopped and we were on our way again, the wind came up and so did the swell making life a bit wet to say the least.

     

     

     

    2 hours later we arrived 50 meters off a sandy beach with a couple of huts. The captain threw the anchor in and turned to us , you go he said. The surf off the beach was at least head high, there was no way I was swimming in with 2 packs, no way ! we all said in unison. Anyway it turned out he was only suggesting a swim/ toilet  . We needed one after that, off again another 2 hours and we were finally at our destination with only a 3 meter swim in.

     

                       

    Lamalera is one of the few indigenous whaling operations still carrying on in a traditional way, they harpoon toothed whales only, sperm, killer and pilot whales as well as dolphins, sharks and manta rays. The people of Lamalera hunt from hand made wooden boats called pleading, harpoonists dive from a platform at the bow with a hand held harpoon. The village itself  was pretty small and had a distinct smell with one tiny shop that sold next to nothing. We stayed at a home stay on the hill with an amazing view of the coast line, being conservation minded we were not super keen to be part of a whale hunt, but being interested in traditional society's and anthropology this place was really cool.

     

            Lamalera Village from our homestay on the hill.

     

     

    The history of the village  was amazing, more than 1000 years before the island they lived on sank in an earthquake 20 or so boats managed to get away they tried to resettle on many islands ,but no one would allow them to. Finally the people where the village now stands agreed to rent them the land this agreement is still in place. Lamalera is dry and hot, no rice can be grown so whale meat is traded for everything, people used to come from as far away as Timor to trade everything from vegetables to silver jewellery for fresh and dried meat.

     

       The food was classic, our daily diet consisted of  a small pilchard , 2 minute noodles, dried manta ray soup and as much black sperm whale jerky as you could eat. Yum! No Padang restaurants around here same thing 3 times a day 7 days a week.

     

     

                This is manta ray and whale that has been dried and  stored in the rafters.

    It was divided between the local families. When they cut it down it hit the ground

    and hundreds of insects went in all directions. Dinner tonight.

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    We supplemented our diet with beng bengs and tops (chocolate wafer bars) the only sweet things in town, actually some of the only food you could buy. We found some wonderful Ikat textiles but as they were expensive we only bought a few each. At the guest house there was a visitors book which I read ,one story by an American lady was amazing she went out whaling ,there was three boats they came across a pod of whales and they harpooned a bull from 2 boats, the whale went nuts as you would! And dived pulling both boats down to 20 or 30 feet under, then it surfaced and smashed the boats up. The American lady was on one of the boats , she had managed to get out during the dive the water was full of blood and quite a few sharks were in amongst the people, wrecked boats and thrashing whale. The third boat rescued the crews some with injuries and they limped home. Another reason not to go out. 

     

  • Travel Adventure in Burma (Myanmar)

    Mytchinya had only just opened to tourists a couple of months before so I decided to have a look around. I was traveling with my mate Dave and he was up for an adventure as well. Mytchinya is located in Katchin state, Northern Burma. Mytchinya is located on the Ayerwaddy River and is surrounded by remote and majestic mountains.
    After a couple of days treasure hunting around the town we managed to locate some nice amber that didn't cost an arm and a leg, but there wasn't much else around. I was specifically looking for a beautiful textile made in the region by the Jingpaw people who were from this area but all I could find were modern examples made with synthetic yarns. The ones I wanted were a mix of wool and dog hair. Maybe if I got out into the hills id have more luck, I’d heard that tourists were now allowed to ride motor bikes in Mandalay, so I found a policeman and asked him if Dave and I could ride, he said yes, but only if we wore a helmet. After promising him about the helmet, we went in searchofbikes. Atthe railway lines a bunch of young crew were hanging out, so we asked them if we could rent their bikes. We had to convince them that foreigners were allowed, then they said why not, how's $10 a day. No problem.
    The next day we headed off and after talking the night before, decided to head to China. On the map the Chinese boarder didn't look that far. We headed north out of town and across the Ayerwaddy river, the views were great, beauty every where, vast networks of rice paddy, interspersed with giant bamboo forests, a myriad of creeks to the east and the mighty Ayerwaddy river heading south to our west. Now this was fun! We powered along on our crappy 125cc Chinese bikes. After taking a turn to the east we started to head into the hills, the jungle was amazing so green and alive. The riding was pretty good too, one section of mud through a small town was memorable, mud everywhere, and lots of laughs, I think we did it three times with all the local people in hysterics! Ah this is the life. Flat tyres were particularly common for Dave, which kind of sucked, luckily in Burma any one can fix a flat from the smallest kid to the oldest lady. We headed deeper in to the jungle and came to a town where they were mining gold in the river. The scenery was wild, massive bamboo and teak forests and beautiful clear creeks and rivers. Mist floated all around us and there were butterfly's of all shapes and colors everywhere, a really cool spot. Not long after Dave and myself were separated.
    Dave needed to attend to nature so pulled off the road and went down a sidetrack, he was ahead of me and I didn’t see him so kept riding. I rode for another hour and a half, I must have been pretty close to the border but I hadn't caught up with Dave. I turned back now worried that he had crashed off the side of the road. I was riding back and came round a typical jungle corner onto a little flat with some rice growing, Crack! What was that? I think some one may have shot at me. Full speed to the next village, Don't F around in the golden triangle! When I came to the next village I spoke to an old guy who said he had seen Dave go past, he said that I was most probably shot at by one of the farmers or possibly by a soldier or a resistance fighter thinking I was a spy. Not too uncommon by the sound of things. Quite a few people had gathered by this time, they all said that we were the first white people that had been in the area for along time. An old lady piped in with, you be careful young man there is a tiger around. Every one agreed that a tiger did visit the village a few days before and that I should indeed be careful. I said bye and headed off in search of Dave .I found him not too far away pushing his bike with another flat back to the village I had just left. An hour later we left and headed back to Mytchinya again.
    It was mid afternoon and really hot and clear, we were both really sun burnt on our arms and the tops of our legs so we stopped and caked mud and stuck teak leaves to our arms. This worked well but a long sleeved top would have been great. About an hour later we were stopped at a military checkpoint, ok here we go. The guard asked why we were trying to enter Burma from China; we were in big trouble he told us. I told him that we had ridden from Mytchinya and were on the way back there. It took a while to convince him but when we did he told us we must go back immediately and if stopped to say that he had sent us back. We had evidently ridden through 2 checkpoints without being stopped. He had been sleeping and had missed us on the way through. Nothing but nice scenery from then on till we reached Mytchinya and some dinner followed closely by bed. Oh and a shower to clean off the mud. The next day a guy I had met had found me some of the textiles I wanted which was great. We hung around a few more days then headed south
    I took some really cool photos but when I arrived back in Thailand my SD card was mysteriously missing from my camera, which was a bit annoying. This area was closed to travelers a few months after we left so I guess we were lucky we saw what we did
     
  • Digging for Tasmanian Fossil Fern

    Mosquitoes, midges, flies,funnel web spiders, leeches,wasps and tiger snakes. Just a part of the experience of searching for the elusive Lune river fossil plants. The prize awaits up to 6 foot down, through tough wet sticky clay, in a thin gravel layer of agates and fossils.

    Fern is hard to find, but to find a good piece is much harder, many pieces have holes throughout or are totally black.

    Easy NO rewarding YES.

    The most beautiful plant fossils replaced by multi coloured agate are the reward, if you are lucky, but hard work does pay off !

    These fossil tree ferns are from Lune River about 120kms south of Hobart, it is Australia's most southerly gem field. 165 million years ago the vegetation was flatterned by a pyroclastic flow from a nearby volcano, volcanic ash covered these plants. Then a 1km thick basalt and dolerite flow covered the plants, silica then replaced the carbon in the plant. 

    Perfectly preserved stems of wood, fern and cycad resulted. These fossils are amazing in their beauty and in their scientific preservation. 

    More than 13 species of tree fern, several cycads and different woods are found in this Jurassic graveyard. Dinosaur food!

    Treasured in any rock hounds collection. The images are some pieces that The Rare and Beautiful have found. we  have some for sale in the fossil category.

     

     

    This beautiful specimen is osmundacaulis prushnikkii. The preservation is amazing with the structure of individual cells easily visible under magnification. Highly agatized with pyrite surrounding the "eyes" in the black section. Locally known as peacock fern due to its resemblance to a peacock tail.

                                     

                                                                   

    This is a trunk section of osmundacaulis griggsii as it was found by The Rare and Beautiful.This specimen is too beautiful to cut and polish, and displays perfectly as is.

     

     

     

     

     Bennettatalian cycadophyte stem perfectly preserved.

    Stem section of lunea Jonesii totally replaced by agate, a fossil and a gemstone in one specimen,very rare and highly desirable.Probably only one piece in a thousand is completely replaced by agate, the holy grail for fern diggers.

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