One hell of a shell

By Chris Thomson | posted on February 10, 2018

A 700KG concrete snail has emerged at Bremer Bay to celebrate an under-appreciated native snail.

Bremer-based landscape ecologist Nathan McQuoid, co-ordinating the project as contractor to the Fitzgerald Biosphere Group, said the sculpture was of a South Coast Land Snail, or Bothriembryon Melo.

“One of the most common things you see along the trail here is these snail shells, and they’re actually a native land snail of which there’s many species,” he said.

“They’re often overlooked and people don’t realise they’re a native and they’re a key part of the invertebrate ecology.

“So we thought we’d trumpet them a bit, give them a platform, give them some profile and make a super-sized snail sculpture.”

Mr McQuoid said the snail was very common around Bremer’s bushlands.

“You very rarely see them alive, but if it’s drizzly or humid or moist, you’ll see them out and about, cruising around,” he said.

“People already love the sculpture.

“Just the comments from people who were walking the trail while we were putting it in were wonderful.”

The 2.6m-long snail is about halfway along a 3.5km nature trail between Bremer’s town and caravan park.

It’s on a high point overlooking Doubtful Islands Bay Peninsula, and about 1000 times the size of a real snail.

“This is not a big prawn or a big banana,” Mr McQuoid said.

“It’s to invite and interest people in a part of nature that is often small or overlooked by making something that’s the size of a person or bigger.”

The snail’s creator, Northcliffe-based artist Peter Hill, said the sheer size of the snail and Bremer’s ocean breeze posed challenges.

“I did it at home as much as possible so I could control the drying of the concrete more,” he said.

Hill said a jaw or two dropped as he drove the all-but-complete 700kg snail across the Great Southern on the back of a light truck.

“I came through Mount Barker just before school started and all these kids going to school were looking at me going, like ‘whoooo!’,” he recalled.

“It basically looked like this big snail truck driving along.”

The snail materialised with support from Lotterywest, the Great Southern Development Commission and Jerramungup shire.