Lake Bolac Eel Festival
The Eel Festival
I used to drive around country, as a musician you know, all over the place and I’d see rivers and I’d see paddocks and I’d see mountain ranges and I’d think, jeez I’d love to walk that one day. You know it’s funny how you create your own reality.
Next minute, Neil Murray and a few other lovely locals from Lake Bolac and district had this idea to walk country and I said “I’ll do that, I definitely wanna do that!”
There was a meeting held in Ararat to canvas the idea of a walk up the Hopkins River. Neil thought we’d have a little campfire concert at the end of the walk.
Neil said “We’ll just walk up from Warrnambool and have a barbecue and a bit of a singsong around the campfire."
Once we got here after a week of walking we’d have a bit of a campfire concert on the shore.
But a committee got hold of it.
And that was the end of that.
I’ve been to places all over Australia and they all know about Lake Bolac. They know it’s the place of the eels. That was the reason to call it an Eel Festival.
And of course to have this festival it’s been crucial to have indigenous involvement.
I’ve been involved in the festivals now for quite a few years, supporting the festival in a cultural way.
This place is a sacred place. It’s been a sacred place to our ancestors for thousands and thousands of years.
They would come and gather here at ceremonies and celebrations. There would be an abundance of eels called “kuyang”.
For me the festival is about showcasing the twilight celebration for our young people to learn and tell their story and dance.
It’s really important that we continue to keep our tradition going.
The Lake Bolac Festival has been very significant for aboriginal people because it’s brought them together, strengthening the relationship between non-indigenous people and indigenous people.
It’s given a cultural happening, an event, in a place where there’s never been anything like that, well not since prior to European settlement probably.
And doing the Eel Festivals, and the walks especially, was a way to give concrete expression to that desire to have a connection to your home country.