Making a Difference

Iuk Koolaye-Jumbunna - Eel Harvest and Inter-Clan Business Season                

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This was of course was still part of the period of late summer heat, but the heat eases over the course of the lunar month as does the hot dry north wind, so this was a time when travel to inter-clan meetings could more readily be undertaken.

This second part of the summer season was also differentiated by the annual eel harvest activity that occurred. During this season, mature ten to thirty year old eels begin migrating down the Yarra and other southern rivers on the way to their spawning ground in the Great Barrier Reef, several thousand kilometres away. It was therefore a time of great annual feasting on the migrating eels, so it was also a time when neighbouring clans of the Wurundjeri and Kulin Nation were invited to visit and share the feast.

During this period it was therefore opportune to conduct much inter-clan business of justice, trade, dispute resolution, marital arrangements and firestick farming schedules for the coming year. Kangaroo stocks from the nearby firestick maintained paddocks and possum stocks from the nearby woodland copses were therefore culled in advance to cater for the influx of guests, with the carcasses being stored in smoke houses to be ready for the arrival of guests. Grass seeds to make damper were also harvested for the occasion and stored in kangaroo skin bags ready for use by the inter-clan guests. Freshwater mussels harvested prior to the previous October floods were also already stored in damp earth ‘refrigerators’ above the October flood levels.

The flowering of casuarinas and the onset of late summer storms effectively marked the end of this eel harvest and inter-clan business period in mid-March.

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