Shire-wide major art project. “Song of the Eels”
A major community project for the 2016 upwelling festival.
“The life-cycle of the Short-finned Eel is fascinating” said Jenny Ellis, director of Little Wing Puppets. The eels begin their lives near New Caledonia. They are swept along the East Australian coast in currents as elvers, and eventually migrate up freshwater creeks and rivers to grow to become adult eels. Then, they re-enter the marine waters to return to their breeding grounds near New Caledonia.
The eels play a particularly key role in the culture of the Gunditjmara and the Indigenous history of the Glenelg Shire region. The Gunditjmara lured the eels in from the ocean and trapped them in artificial waterways, with woven eel traps. The history is currently being reviewed for World Heritage status.
Ms Ellis worked with students from 18 district schools to create large and small eel puppets from cane and paper for the Upwelling parade. Schoolkids hear the story of the eels and are actively involved in the workshops and parade day. The puppets return to the schools for display as artifacts of the festival that links our unique coastal environment to migratory seabirds, short-fined eels and, always, the Blue Whales.
Portland Secondary College was once again an enthusiastic entrant to the parade and other carnival events.