NEARLY a decade ago musician Neil Murray had a plan to retrace an ancestral walk along rivers to his home in Lake Bolac.
The plan was to sit down by the lake at the end of his journey and play a bit of guitar, possibly by the fire with a few friends.
It wasn’t often original music was heard in the town — pub cover bands were the go — but Murray’s plan was all that was needed to trigger something bigger.
This weekend a thousand people are expected to find their way to the lake’s shores for the annual Lake Bolac Eel Festival, there to enjoy an eclectic line-up of talented local and indigenous acts.
Despite a name that might make some recoil, the eel festival is outgrowing its space. It’s a challenge for organisers, including committee chairman David Allen, who are keen to preserve the festival’s character and modest size.
“It’s the small festival with a big heart, that’s how we like to think about it,” Mr Allen said.
“We’ve been gaining numbers each year. We’ll get to the size where we don’t know what to do.”
There’s a reluctance to move location or make the event physically larger for fear of altering the nature of the weekend-long festival.
This year the stage has been set for performers including Things of Stone and Wood, Rhys Crimmin and former Midnight Oil guitarist Jim Moginie.
“We’re very excited, we’ve got a terrific line-up of musicians.”
“Healing walks” in the lead-up to the festival have continued, with 20 people arriving yesterday after trekking more than 100 kilometres from The Glut, near Beaufort, this week.
“It’s emulating what the indigenous people have done for thousands of years,” Mr Allen said.
Art will also feature strongly, with about 30 artists taking canvases and frames.
Festival arts co-ordinator Nolene Fraser said the theme of the ninth festival was migration, with works by artists including Eileen Harris reflecting life’s journeys.
“It’s very fine detailed work and symbolic — it relates to her connection to from the land,” Ms Fraser said.