Indigenous Weather Knowledge

Banbai calendar


The Wattleridge Indigenous Protected Area covers 650 hectares of woodlands and forests on granite soils, home to an amazing diversity of plants and animals. The Banbai nation are the traditional owners of this country and fire is an important part of their way of life. Wattleridge was the first Indigenous Protected Area to be declared in New South Wales.

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Wildfire time

Wet and hot becoming warm

Grass cures

Dry becoming cool
April to Mid-May

Burning time

Dry and cold to frosty
Mid-May to June

Too cold

Freezing and windy

Burning time

Cold becoming warm
August to September

Risky time

Hot and windy

Wildfire time Grass cures Burning time Too cold Burning time Dangerous time

Permission to host the Banbai seasonal calendar is granted by the Banbai Enterprise Development Aboriginal Corporation on behalf of the community.


The Banbai Fire and Seasons CalendarThainburra una burranyen ngaia nyam ngenda dunga nguralami


The members of the Banbai Nation would like to welcome you to learn about our country. This land was walked upon, played upon & hunted upon by our ancestors. As an act of remembrance, honour and loyalty to our ancestors, we ask that you take a moment to remember them.


Our vision for our country is that it is self-sustaining for future generations where our children learn cultural values (such as bush tucker and traditional practices) and understand what healthy country means. Our country is a meeting place for family and community gatherings where knowledge is shared and what we see now, generations will see in the future. Healthy country, healthy people and healthy waterways will make our country self-sustaining.


This fire and seasons calendar is part of a PhD research project undertaken- in collaboration with the Banbai traditional owners of Wattleridge- by Michelle McKemey (University of New England), under the supervision of Dr Emilie Ens, Mr Oliver Costello, Prof Nick Reid, Dr John Hunter & Dr Mal Ridges.


The Wattleridge Fire and Seasons Calendar is supported by the Firesticks project, Banbai Enterprise Development Aboriginal Corporation, University of New England, School of Environment and Rural Science, Rural Fire Service Association, Rural Fire Service, and Northern Tablelands Local Land Services (through funding from the Australian Government. National Landcare Program).


Banbai seasons


Navigate back up to the calendar overview with the links at the end of each season. Please note that the seasonal names here are descriptive only, and are not the linguistic forms used by the Banbai.


Wildfire time

Wildfire time
November - March

November New England Tree Frog by David Milledge
New England Tree Frog by David Milledge

  • Burr, Indyara = eel, tuk = frog
  • Pink kunzea, lemon dovetail, common buttercup, yellow buttons, native geranium, slender stackhousia, slender
    teatree, bell fruited mallee and other plants are flowering. The spiny-headed mat-rush is seeding. Mat-rush leaves were used to weave baskets and eel traps. Tea tree was used as an antiseptic and broom. Diurus orchid tubers (like lemon dovetail) were an important food resource in south eastern Australia; in some areas they were 'everyday vegetables for Aboriginal people'.
  • New England tree frogs, common eastern froglets, spotted grass frogs, striped marsh frogs, Peron's tree frogs and eastern banjo frogs are calling and breeding.
  • A lot of bats are around, catching insects, including the threatened eastern false pippistrelle.
  • Snow gums are flowering, attracting honeyeaters. Magpies are teaching their young.

December Black Grevillea by Michelle McKemey
Black Grevillea by Michelle McKemey

  • Awkendi / gugunbil = water
  • Scarab beetles are swarming.
  • Black grevillea, ladies' tresses, buttercup, fairy aprons, crinkle bush, blue bell, native violet, chocolate and vanilla lilies, native geranium, fringed lily, creamy candles, glycine pea and forest goodenia are flowering.
    Black grevillea is a threatened species found only around the Wattleridge region. Lance beardheath, spiny-headed mat-rush and blackberry are fruiting. The roots of the vanilla lily were eaten raw or roasted. Geranium, glycine pea and fringed lily roots were cooked and eaten. Lance beardheath fruits were eaten. The native potato is flowering. The roots of this orchid were roasted and eaten in some parts of Australia. Aboriginal people could find the tubers by digging down where they noticed bandicoots had been scratching.
  • Drooping mistletoe on New England manna gums are flowering, attracting eastern spinebills and New Holland honeyeaters.


  • Wurupil = koala, wale / wole = rain
  • Fruits of the native raspberry are a delicious snack. Bracken fern roots were processed and eaten as a staple food, young leaves were rubbed onto skin to relieve insect bites. Bracken fern is abundant after fire. Many wildflowers are blooming.
  • Insect populations explode and eucalypts are flowering, with many animals feeding.
  • Koalas are breeding.
  • Summer migratory birds visit, including the striated pardalote, sacred kingfisher, rufous whistler, satin flycatcher and grey fantail.

February Wombat Berry fruit by Michelle McKemey
Wombat Berry fruit by Michelle McKemey

  • Beambyu = eat, phatae = food
  • Blackthorn, ladies' tresses and greenhood orchids are flowering. Wombat berries are eaten; the roots are sweet tasting when raw; this plant is also used for medicine. Some bush tomato (Solanum) fruits were eaten but some species are poisonous- the local solanum fruits are probably poisonous.
  • Native bush rat juveniles are active.


  • Dule = tree
  • Diehard stringybarks are flowering, attracting birds such as New Holland honeyeaters and white-naped honeyeaters. Box mistletoe is fruiting, attracting mistletoebirds. People ate mistletoe fruit, colloquially known as snotty gobbles.





Grass cures

Dry and cool
April - Mid-May



April Rainbow Lorikeet by John Hodge
Rainbow Lorikeet by John Hodge

  • Byurngarran = musk lorrikeet, biribi= rainbow lorrikeet
  • The hairpin banksia is flowering and wait-a-while vine fruiting. Banksia nectar can be sucked or dipped in water to make a sweet drink; the banksia cone was used as a comb. The wait-a-while vine was used for rope or string.
  • Broad-leaved stringybarks are flowering, attracting rainbow lorikeets, musk lorikeets, eastern spinebills, yellow-faced honeyeaters, red wattlebirds, New Holland honeyeaters, white-naped honeyeaters, noisy friarbirds and silvereyes.
  • Native bush rat females are pregnant.

May Sugar Glider by Phil Spark
Sugar Glider by Phil Spark

  • Gapi / kupoan / kurake / gupe / gurakai = possum, banggo = sugar glider
  • The honeysuckle banksia is flowering, attracting rainbow and musk lorikeets, eastern spinebills, yellow-faced honeyeaters, red wattlebirds, New Holland honeyeaters, white-naped honeyeaters, silvereyes, satin bowerbirds and sugar gliders. Bird species are dispersing after breeding, including the fantailed cuckoo, flame robin and silvereye.
  • Banksia cones were used as firesticks to assist Aboriginal people to carry fire across country.





Burning time

Dry and cold to frosty
Mid-May - June




  • Winba = fire, buang = strike fire, rule = smoke
  • Jam tarts may be known traditionally as mookrum- they produce small edible fruits and nectar. Prickly moses, jam tarts, greenhood orchid and mint bush are flowering.
  • Superb lyrebirds and bassian thrushes are breeding.



Too cold

Freezing and Windy


July Glossy Black Cockatoo by Phil Spark
Glossy Black Cockatoo by Phil Spark

  • Karil = cold
  • Greenhood orchid tubers are small but starchy and nutritious.
  • The male scarlet robin is busy at this time of year, getting ready for breeding, establishing his territory and looking for food.





Burning time



August Echidna by Greg Steenbeeke
Echidna by Greg Steenbeeke

  • Kukra = echidna, wir = black cockatoo
  • Echidnas breeding - the males form lines to follow a female. Traditionally, echidnas were eaten. This culturally significant species features in rock art at Wattleridge. Day length is increasing which stimulates animals such as antechinus to start mating. Eastern grey kangaroos come in after a low intensity fire to eat the fresh green pick which made them easier to hunt.
  • Young black cockatoos can be heard begging food from tree hollows. Glossy black cockatoos are a threatened species with key habitat found at Wattleridge. She-oak cones are
    an important food source for them. Magpies swooping.

September Red Bellied Black Snake by Michelle McKemey
Red Bellied Black Snake by Michelle McKemey

  • Tools: Ilemen = wooden shield, ganay = digging stick, kunnai = yamstick, pikora = spear, tua =boomerang, mawkaw =stone axe
  • Bridal veil orchid is one of the first plants to flower as the weather starts to warm up. The beautiful purple flowers of the hovea shrub welcome warmer weather to the bush. Many wattles are flowering prolifically. Wattles were often indicator species which were used to let people know when to use fire, move camp or access resources. Wattles have many uses including gum, seeds (ground or eaten green), timber, bark, ‘apples', grubs/insects, tools, flowers and medicine.
  • Snakes are becoming active, including highland copperheads and red-bellied black snakes.





Risky time

Hot and windy


October Geebung Fruit by Michelle McKemey
Geebung Fruit by Michelle McKemey

  • Kume = sleepy lizard, gunrul = frillnecked lizard
  • Geebung are fruiting. Native clematis, lemon dovetail, false sarsaparilla, leafy purple flag, wait-a-while vine, native violet, dusky fingers, Australian indigo, beard heath, grass tree and other plants are flowering. Native clematis leaves were crushed and inhaled to cure headache or cold. Australian indigo roots can be used to stun fish in waterholes. False sarsaparilla stems were used as rope or string for baskets. Grass trees were important for food and tools. The flower stalks were used as a base for fire drills and dry material used as tinder to make fire.
  • Whistling tree frogs and eastern sign-bearing frogs are breeding.
  • Eastern water dragons are active around Lizard Gully.
  • Bowerbirds are active near the homestead.