Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Eel obstacle course
Hopkins Falls on the Hopkins River north of Warrnambool. We hadn't been there for years so we went to have a look. It's a lovely spot. I particularly enjoyed the patterns of rock, vegetation and water above the falls.
It wouldn't have been worth going during the drought unless you're interested in the geology - all the basalt rocks would have been exposed as can be seen in this photo. But we missed a spectacular show after rain events in the last year or so as can be seen in this photo.
Every summer the elvers of Short-finned Eels have to climb the 13m falls or the slopes on either side in order to reach the still water in creeks and lakes further upstream. They enter the Hopkins River estuary at Warrnambool after a long trip from the Coral Sea off Queensland and live in the fresh waters for many years before moving back to the Coral Sea to breed and die. You can read more about their story here and here. Apparently they move up the falls under the cover of darkness. It would be wonderful to see.
When I was a child growing up on a dairy farm in Western Victoria we used to go 'eeling' at night in the Darlot Creek. Dad was a genius at skinning an eel (they're very slippery critters) and my mother was a genius at cooking them. We kids loved it all, including the eating. And so did the local Gunditjmara people whose extensive eel traps in the lava swamps now have international protection and recognition. They really knew how to catch and smoke an eel.