The children at Lions Hopkins Kindergarten have used one of the region’s most fascinating natural phenomena as inspiration for an art exhibition.
The young minds at the kindergarten have spent the year learning about the extraordinary migration behaviours of eels in the Hopkins River.
Warrnambool City Council Preschool Coordinator Mary Chenoweth said that the city’s kindergartens were always exploring ways to further enhance the children’s connection with nature and local indigenous culture.
“Over the past few months the staff and children have explored the story of the Kuuyang (eel) which lives in the Hopkins River,” she said.
“We regularly visit the river for beach kinder sessions, which include learning about the cultural significance of the area, and caring for our environment – it’s an opportunity to play and learn in nature.
“The children have represented their understanding of this natural event through art and the kindergarten recently held an art show to present their work to their families and the community.”
From February to around Easter (a full moon in April), many short-finned eels gather in the Hopkins River mouth where they spend time acclimatising to the salty water before going out into the ocean.
From there, they begin their migration by swimming up the east coast of Australia to the Coral Sea to breed. The young eels return with the ocean currents back to the south-west river system from which their parents had come.
The young eels re-enter the Hopkins River mouth and squirm their way up the Hopkins Falls near Wangoom (using their sharp teeth to bite rocks and flip their bodies up the falls) in about October to reach the upstream river stretches where they grow into adults, and the whole cycle begins again.
After a popular exhibition in Warrnambool, Lions Hopkins Kindergarten has connected with the Healesville community and will be displaying their art work at an exhibition at Hearth Galleries in Healesville to coincide with NAIDOC week from July 7-14.