I am a Wurundjeri/Woiwurrung Woman. My traditional family name is ‘Wandoon’ which means ‘spirits of the water.’ My family and I still live on Country. The art of using reeds to make eel traps and baskets is a tradition handed down to me by my Nanna Ollie, who was taught by Granny Jemima (at Coranderrk). I am intending to pass this on to my own granddaughter when the time is right. I collect my reeds on my Country and hang them to dry in the sun. When they are dried I soak them in water to make them flexible and ready to use.
ART ATTACK PROJECT AT BRUNGERGALK (WATT'S RIVER PARKLAND) HEALESVILLE For this Art Attack project I have created a site specific ephemeral work titled iuk (eel) trap. My work contains the spirit of my Ancestors reflecting their strength and resilience.
WURUNDJERI WOI-WURRUNG IUK SEASON You are standing on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people. Please be respectful of Country and waterways.
Short finned eels are fish that live in our creeks rivers lakes and dams. They live here on Wurundjeri Country in the Birrarung where the water flows from the headwaters down all the way to the sea.
When the wurun(manna gum) is flowering the mature eels of 25-35 years start their migration under the cover of darkness on the new moon in march (iuk season). It is in this time when the eels are at their fullest from feeding on insects fish frogs and yabbies.
When the land was free and able to fully flood there were lots of billabongs for the eel.They make their way down the waterways being capable of crossing over land to get further downstream and into the brackish water where the fresh water mingles with salt water
From here they migrate often thousands of kilometers to somewhere in the Coral Sea to spawn where the adults eels then die. The newly hatched larvae make their journey back on the East Australian current to the brackish water where they turn into glass eels and amazingly make their way back upstream to mature and begin the cycle again.
The Birrarung(Yarra River) is a life giving force that has been cared for by the Wurundjeri people for 1000s of years. Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people would use specially designed woven fibre traps to catch eels made from lomandra and reeds found on the riverbank and in the water. Cumbungi roots growing in the river are a great source of food too.
The eels would be prepared by smoking them in a hollow tree and are a part of a perfectly balanced diet. The Wurundjeri made sure they only took what was needed and always honouring and giving back to Country by way of Lore.
This Art Attack project is funded by Shire Yarra Ranges.