True Tales of the Trout Cod

In 2006, Will Trueman commenced work to validate accounts on the historic occurrence of Trout cod in a number of waterways by using multiple lines of evidence including oral histories, science, newspapers, diaries, and photographs.  At the project’s completion Will had interviewed nearly 140 people ranging in age from 20 to 95 years, and collected 400 photographs as far back as 1862.  The people he interviewed were saddened by the changes they had seen to the rivers and native fish. Will provides us with a window into the past that informs our present, and provides hope for the future.

“The way things were in the past are gone. Those times won’t be back. But people should know how it once was.”

– George Murtagh, Mudgeegonga, Mitta Mitta River Catchment, October 2006

Spend some time with Will as he talks about what he has found in his travels accessing archives, collecting photographs, reviewing science and meeting locals to talk about fish and rivers.

The aim of the project was to:

  1. Collect, collate and analyse historical information on native fish in the southern half of the Murray-Daring Basin;
  2. Identify the original distribution and habitat preferences of Trout cod and resolve the ongoing debate on this issue;
  3. Identify the original distribution and habitat preferences of other large fish species, primarily those of interest to anglers;
  4. Collect general historical information on native fish, in particular aspects of their biology;
  5. Document changes or events that may have contributed to the decline of native fish;
  6. Present the information collected in a format to assist scientists and managers engaged I the recovery of native fish but also accessible to the general public to increase community awareness of the plight of Trout cod and other native fish species.

The result is a large volume of information that provides a greater understanding of the fish and our rivers in the past.  This knowledge can be used to inform our current and futures efforts to protect and restore the rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin.

True Tales of the Trout Cod Book

The catalyst for developing the True Tales Videos, True Tales Catchment Booklets and True Tales River Histories was the desire by Will and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to turn the 750 page Lost World: A history of the trout cod and other native fish in the Southern Murray- Darling Basin book, into a range of products for different audiences. The content of the book is superb, but rather overwhelming to all but the most passionate of fish researchers.

This wonderful book is available in whole and in parts (click here to download individual chapters). This took considerable time and effort, but the end result is the ‘Lost World’ book broken up into chapters and remaining true to the content and style of the author Will Trueman.

River Histories (booklets and videos)

Individual Chapters

The results of this project have been made available with the support from the Native Fish Strategy of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and through the services of the *Australian River Restoration Centre.

* The Australian River Restoration Centre team working on this project were Siwan Lovett, Nerida Hart, Richard Snashall, Vikki Bell, Allison Mortlock, Melissa Gabelle and Phil Price. Will Trueman was also a highly valued member of the team due to his ongoing commitment and work in developing this amazing history of the trout cod.

Heleena Bamford from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority managed the project and contributed a great deal of time, thought and effort to ensure this work could be shared by all.