In Australia’s largest eel-export operation, The Finlaysons – father Wayne and his sons Shaun and Bradley – package 50–70 tonnes of wild-caught Tasmanian eels every year.
Story By Ken Eastwood
Somewhere up north in the Coral Sea, the extraordinary life of Tasmania’s short-finned eels begins. Thousands of kilometres from Tasmania, the little elvers hitch a ride on the East Australian Current to Tassie, then start swimming upstream. They slither up dam walls and, as long as the soil is moist, over embankments, getting into farm dams and the high country.
There these scavengers lie, feasting on frogs and fishes, worms, insects and dead animals. In winter, they slow right down to a torpor in the cold waters, waiting, conserving energy. Then, on the darkest, dreariest Tasmanian nights, when rain buckets down, washing the worms and grubs into the edges of the lakes and dams, the eels begin to move.
Wearing waders, life vests, and sometimes two beanies to keep out the cold, Wayne Finlayson and his sons, 30-year-old Shaun and 33-year-old Brad, are waiting for them.
This story excerpt is from Issue #93
Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2014