An eel trap system at Lake Condah in south-west Victoria, one of five around the lake’s edge, has been carbon dated to a remarkable 6600 years old. The area had a permanent supply of freshwater and abundant eels, fish and water plants. The Gunditjmara people used ingenious methods of channelling water flows and systematically husbanded and harvested eels to ensure a year round supply.
Historical and archaeological evidence demonstrates that a large, settled Aboriginal community farmed and smoked eels for food and trade at what is considered to be one of Australia’s earliest and largest aquaculture systems.The Gunditjmara people managed the area by engineering channels to bring water and young eels from Darlots Creek to low lying areas. They created ponds and wetlands linked by channels containing weirs. Woven baskets were placed in the weir to harvest mature eels. These engineered wetlands provided the economic basis to sustain large groups of people living in the vicinity of Lake Condah.