Page:Dawson - Australian aborigines (1900).djvu/110

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birds are present no native will venture up to their nest, for a blow from their wing would make him lose his hold, and death would be the consequence.

Fish are caught in various ways, but the idea of a hook and line never appears to have occurred to the natives of the Western District. Large fresh-water fish are taken by tying a bunch of worms, with cord made of the inner bark of the prickly acacia, to the end of a long supple wand like a fishing-rod. The bait is dipped into the pool or stream, and, when swallowed by the fish, it is pulled up quickly before the fish can disgorge it. Fishing baskets, about eight or ten feet long, made of rushes in the form of a drag-net, are drawn through the water by two persons. Various kinds of fish are thus captured. The small fish, 'tarropatt,' and others of a similar description, are caught in a rivulet whiqh runs into Lake Colongulac, near Camperdown, by damming it up with stones, and placing a basket in a gap of the dam. The women and children go up the stream and drive the fish down; and, when the basket is full, it is emptied into holes dug in the ground to prevent them escaping. The fish thus caught are quickly cooked by spreading them on hot embers raked out of the fire, and are lifted with slips of bark and eaten hot.

Eels are prized by the aborigines as an article of food above all other fish. They are captured in great numbers by building stone barriers across rapid streams, and diverting the current through an opening into a funnel-mouthed basket pipe, three or four feet long, two inches in diameter, and closed at the lower end. When the streams extend over the marshes in time of flood, clay embankments, two to three feet high, and sometimes three to four hundred yards in length, are built across them, and the current is confined to narrow openings in which the pipe baskets are placed. The eels, proceeding down the stream in the beginning of the winter floods, go headforemost into the pipes, and do not attempt to turn back. Lake Boloke is the most celebrated place in the Western District for the fine quality and abundance of its eels; and, when the autumn rains induce these fish to leave the lake and to go down the river to the sea, the aborigines gather there from great distances. Each tribe has allotted to it a portion of the stream, now known as the Salt Creek; and the usual stone barrier is built by each family, with the eel basket in the opening. Large numbers are caught during the fishing season. For a month or two the banks of the Salt Creek presented the appearance of a village all the way from Tuureen Tuureen, the outlet of the lake, to its junction with the Hopkins. The Boloke tribe claims the country round the lake, and both sides of the river, as far down as