Well, now that I've heard back from my mom and dad, I suppose I can show what I've been working on (very very slowly, in between other projects and my laziness) for the past few months.
It's hard to think of gifts for people in general. It's even harder if you try to think of something to send home that people just can't get back home. Or get easily. There's always the fall-back of Cadbury's chocolate. While that's more British than Australian, there IS a Cadbury's factory on Tasmania. So what we send back is more Australian? (And to answer your question, Malory, YES, when you visit, we WILL take you there).
However, there is only so much chocolate you can send back, and it's a gift that can quickly dwindle to nothing. Also, I think they've changed the recipe, and it doesn't taste nearly as good as it did 2 years ago. (Except the Dark Bubbly. That stuff is AMAZING).
Then there are the things you can buy at tourist shops. Which are EVERYWHERE. And all carry about the same stuff. Tee-shirts, wood work done with Tasmanian timbers, crafts, paintings, "authentic" aboriginal instruments, and then all that knick-knacky stuff. None of which I really want to burden my parents with. I was told outright they didn't want any anyway.
So, wanting to send something truly Tasmanian (or at least Australian), and something somewhat special, I set out making these:
So yeah, they're pretty beginner, and not that wonderful looking, but I really really like them, and hope the family members I gave them to did too. (Or DO, unless they tossed them out). I made each with shells Phillip and I have collected on our many walks on the beach. Mostly a simple white, some-type-of-snail shell, then throwing in some others. I just liked the simple white with the driftwood (also collected on our walks). And then I threw some broken ones in there, just because I liked the worn-out more natural look it gave the chimes. And they sound very nice when they clink together in the wind! Very... beachy.
For my dad though, I needed something a bit more.... manly. So he ended up with a jar of "the poison thing that lives in a shell, that spikes you when you pick it up." (Check out Come to Australia You Might Accidently Get Killed. It's hilarious, and we played it at our wedding...) It's a book end. Or paper weight. Or something cool he can put in his office next to his Emu egg and people can come look at and go, "wow, that's neat!" (only not for my amazing artwork and brief info written about the conus, more about the fact that there is such a thing as a venomous snail).
It's a Conus shell, though I haven't truly for sure identified what KIND of conus. And no, I didn't get them fresh. I'm not stupid. (Though most of the types of conus here aren't deadly, they just make you really sick).
**All shells used were cleaned VERY well in hot water, then either bleach or methylated spirits, then rubbed with oil to give it a tiny bit of shine. Driftwood was quarantined for months.