Pipis and prejudice

Pipis and prejudice

The town of Venus Bay stands on a sand spit about two hours south east of Australia’s fastest growing city Melbourne. In town, there are holiday lets and a caravan park, all serviced by 500 permanent inhabitants and supplemented by about 1500 part-time residents of holiday homes. But it is one of the smallest tenants that has been at the centre of tensions in the town for the last eight years: the pipi.

It’s sometimes called a cockle, and digging them up from under the sand is one of the main drivers behind an annual total of 6-8000 day-visitors from Melbourne. These visitors mostly call on the long beach in front of the town on summer public holidays like Christmas and New Years, when the diversion of the asphalt bound city has nothing compared to the open sky and sand of the Bay.

But if you ask some locals, the visitors are not welcome.

In this story, local pride, racial prejudice and the joint pursuit of pipi hunting all intersect against the backdrop of an impossibly-long sandy beach on a summers day.

This program aired on Radio National’s Off Track and was awarded Best Feature Story in the 2017 Rural Press Club of Victoria awards.

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