Lake Bolac Eel Festival


A Healing Walk – by Neil Murray


For more than a decade I’d nursed the idea of walking with aboriginal people back into country they’d been removed from. As a small boy my grandfather had shown me axe heads and grindstones he’d picked up in the paddocks of his farm. He’d explained to me that they were stone tools that belonged to people who’d lived there before. I’d asked him where those people were. He said they’d all gone, but he thought they’d gone down Framlingham way. (Framlingham was an aboriginal reserve established in 1865 near Warrnambool) Even as a boy I sensed something important was missing.

Later in adult hood, my own research confirmed that I had been born and raised in the lands of Tjapwurrung speaking peoples and that any remnant survivors of the frontier wars and dispossession that occurred most likely did end up at Framlingham. But when I was growing up there were no conspicuous aboriginals in my district. The Mornington Island Dance group visited our school in 1974 and I was the first to jump up and volunteer to join a brolga dance with them. Only in hindsight did I realise there were a handful of kids in my high school that were probably of indigenous descent. But no one was owning up to it back then. Little did I know there was an entire community an hour drive to the south.


23-25 March 2018