Indigenous Weather Knowledge
There are six distinct weather periods recognised in the Gariwerd seasonal cycle. The language groups, Djapwurrong and Jardwadjali are the languages used by the custodians for the Grampians/Gariwerd region.
Honey bee season
Nesting bird season
Permission to use the Gariwerd seasonal calendar and related information on the Indigenous Weather Knowledge website is given by the Elders/Directors of Gariwerd which includes the Gunditjmara, Winda Mara (Kerrup Jamara), Goolum Goolum, Kirrae Whurrong and Framlingham peoples. Visit www.brambuk.com.au for more information.
There are six distinct weather periods recognised in the Brambuk seasonal cycle. These are genuine seasons which relate to climatic features as well as referencing environmental events such as plant flowering, fruiting and animal behaviour patterns.
Gariwerd/Grampians National Park is a unique place.
The language groups, Djapwurrong and Jardwadjali are the languages used by the custodians for the Grampians/Gariwerd region.
Reading the country
There are many different ways of understanding this ancient landscape.
Understanding the land through seasonal observations was once essential to survival and is today, essential to management.
The Grampians National Park is home to many rare and endangered species of plants and animals, and is recognised as the single most important botanical reserve in Victoria.
Water, one of the most precious and scarce resources in Australia, is abundant in the Grampians/Gariwerd area.
Protecting and conserving habitat is the main way to help preserve plants and animals, including endangered species.
Navigate back up to the calendar overview with the links at the end of each season.
Kooyang—season of eels
Late summer: Late January-late March
Kooyang is depicted by eels, galaxia, baby animals, mistletoe as well as eeling and fishing.
The lifestyle for the Gariwerd communities during Kooyang
Eel trapping is common during this season, a favourite food of the Gariwerd people. Stone huts could be seen on Salt Creek for the eel harvest.
Herbal medicines are available:
- Old man weed for cold and chest complaints
- Tannins from gums and wattles for stomach complaints and burns
The stars were used for navigation with star formations having creation stories.
The woodland areas during Kooyang
Tree frog by Ceredwyn EalantaAmphibians
Tree frogs can be heard squeaking.
Many insects can be seen in larval form or beginning to hatch:
- labyrinth butterflies hatch
- longhorn beetles emerge from wattle trunks
- gum emperor moths emerge
- spitfire grubs of sawfly wasp eat new leaves on seedling gums
- stick insects eat treetop leaves
- featherhorn beetles emerge
Butterflies are frequent:
- imperial white butterflies can be seen
- symmons skipper butterflies are common
- brown tailed moth butterfly found on mistletoe
Flies are pesty during kooyang and robber flies often cruise along bush tracks.
Mammals emerge during kooyang.
Boxing kangaroos can be seen during this time.
Snakes are seen basking in the sun.
Red wattle birds flocking and fantails scurry down bush gullies.
Young birds are emerging during this season.
Some plants continuing to flower including mistletoes, messmates and the long leafed box.
The flowers of river red gums attract honeyeaters.
The wetland areas during Kooyang
Water boatmen migrate from drying ponds.
Many aquatic insects emerge as adults, attracting swallows and martins.
Galaxias (small native trout) move downstream to estuaries to spawn.
Kooyang is the peak time for eel.
Second brood of swamp hens are running.
Ribbon weed and swamp lily flowering.
Elodea waterweed stems break and migrate.
Gwangal moronn—season of honey bees
Autumn: Late March-end of May
Gwangal moronn season is depicted by insects, pink heath and being at home in the wuurn.
The lifestyle for the Gariwerd communities during Gwangal moronn
People gather in villages.
People in the south lived on raised platforms to escape waterlogging.
Layered cooking ovens are used at this time and are passed over generations.
Distinct roles and tasks included foraging and gathering by females and hunting by males.
The woodland areas during Gwangal moronn
Fly agaric fungus by Ceredwyn EalantaPlants and fungi
Gwangal moronn sees berries ripening.
Plants flowering including:
- cranberry heath and hop goodenia in full flower
- pink heath and flame grevillea
- candlebark and manna gums
Many orchid shoots showing
- first rosettes of greenhood orchids
- parsons bands orchids are flowering
Peak of fungi season:
- red and white "fly agaric" fungi
Wattle goat moths can be seen and giant swift moths are laying eggs at the base of gums.
- young bandicoots out of pouch
- antechinus active
- dingoes mating
Possums are beginning to breed.
Pre northern migration flocking begins:
- red wattle birds flocking
- first flame robin juveniles and females come down from the hills
- flocks of insectivorous birds pass down gullies
- pied currawongs come down from mountains
Many birds are moulting feathers during this season.
Honeyeaters and wrens are searching for moths and insects.
The wetland areas during Gwangal moronn
River red gums flowers continue to attract honeyeaters.
Masked lapwings and grey fantails are flocking.
Reptiles and amphibians
Skinks and tortoises hibernate.
Many tadpoles can be seen in ponds.
Mature eels head out to sea to breed.
Hawk moths are common.
Aquatic insects emerge as adults, attracting swallows and martins.
Chunnup—season of cockatoos
Winter: Late May-end of July
Chinnup is depicted by cockatoos, fungi as well as clothes and totems.
Return of Aquila constellation (Bunjil).
The lifestyle for the Gariwerd communities during Chunnup
Bands moved to rock shelters in the hills for refuge.
Long cloaks were made from possum skins.
Old people and pregnant women rubbed emu fat into the skin for protection from the cold.
For ornamentation people wore kangaroo teeth necklaces, hat mats and nose piercings.
The woodland areas during Chunnup
Tall Greenhood by Ceredwyn EalantaPlants and fungi
Fungi appear including:
- coral fungus on mossy ground
- boletus fungi in wet litter
First of the winter orchids including:
- tall greenhood and early nancy lilly in flower
- first nodding greenhoods and helmet orchids flower
- first flowering chocolate lilies
Many early wattles flowering:
- long leafed wattle in flower
- golden wattle and prickly moses in flower
- cranberry heath in flower
Fire damaged trees show epicormics shoots.
Yellow box flowering.
Possums have young in pouch during chinnup.
Sugar gliders give birth.
Echidnas are searching for mates.
Several bird species nesting including:
- brown thornbill building first nests
- scrub wrens
- jacky winter flycatcher returning to nesting sites
- dive bombing magpies and lapwings
Many birds active and on the move:
- shrike tits tear bark off manna gums
- yellow tailed cockatoos on the move
- first calls can be heard of fantailed cuckoos
- flocks of sittellas pass through
- yellow tailed cockatoos seek new feeding grounds
- newly flowering eucalypts attract honeyeaters
- noisy miners call loudly at dawn
- satin bowerbirds on the move
- little ravens flocking
- powerful owls laying eggs
The wetland areas during Chunnup
Large flocks of pink eared ducks seen on lakes.
Swans and coot graze on lake shores.
Rising waters cause ducks to seek new feeding and nesting areas.
Lapwings are nesting on eggs.
Reptiles and amphibians
Frogs actively calling during chinnup.
Ponds full of little water creatures.
Larneuk—season of nesting birds
Pre-spring: Late July-August
Larneuk is depicted by owls and eagles; tubers (orchids and murrnong) providing underground larders; and, cultivation.
The lifestyle for the Gariwerd communities during Larneuk
Murnong and other tuberous roots were dug up by women using long, pointed sticks, collected in large baskets and cooked in underground ovens.
Baskets were frequently being made during larneuk.
The woodland areas during Larneuk
Plants and fungi
New growth can be seen on eucalyptus trees.
Many ground orchids in full flower including greenhood, donkey and spider orchids.
Many plants in flower:
- pultanaea bush peas
- manna gums and long leafed box
- purple coral pea, stackhousia and wattles
- grass tree spikes
Tree ferns unfold new fronds and cup fungi grow under large eucalypts.
Many small birds are nesting, including lapwings.
Early nesters can now be seen feeding young.
Spotted pardalote build nesting tunnels for first brood.
Cuckoos return and call continuously.
Fledgling powerful owls and wedge tailed eagles emerge.
First butterflies appear and imperial white butterflies take wing.
Caterpillars and grubs emerge with sawfly grubs common on young eucalypts.
Woolly bear caterpillars are common.
King crickets lay eggs in banksias.
The wetland areas during Larneuk
Some migratory birds return:
- sandpipers and stints arrive on mud flats
- reed warblers return from north
Early ducklings walk to water.
Mosquito wrigglers are abundant.
Rivers run high and galaxias migrate from the sea.
Petyan—season of wildflowers
Spring: Late July-August
The spring season is depicted by bird eggs, wildflowers and great meetings.
The lifestyle for the Gariwerd communities during Petyan
There were great meetings of Aboriginal bands of up to 1000 people for settling legal conflicts, singing and dancing corroborees, wrestling and boomerang throwing competitions, football games, trade, seeking partners for marriage.
Clans were summoned by smoke signals or message sticks.
The woodland areas during Petyan
Many orchids and lily are in flower, including:
- leopard orchids, hare orchids, pink fingers and sun orchids
- leaves of common bird orchid appear
- leek orchids appear
- nodding blue lilies
- flying duck orchids
Trees are in flower including silver banksia, yellow box and late black and silver wattles.
Many shrubs/grasses are in flower including parrot peas, mint bush, bauera, tetratheca, rice flowers and christmas mint bush.
Many herbs and grasses in flower, including:
- yam daisy
- lomandra mat rush has fresh spiky flowering heads
Fringe lilies, tall sundews, grass trigger plants, grass trees and kangaroo grass flowering.
Cherry ballart is fruiting.
More butterflies emerge:
- wanderer and common brown butterflies are plentiful
- caper white and wood white butterflies emerge
Insects active, including:
- bees swarming
- hover flies visit guinea flowers
- cicadas emerge, leaving pupa case on tree trunks
- first termites take wing
- red ichneumon wasps common
- large number of insects visit the bush pea and lily flowers
- moths and beetles collect around lights
Caterpillars create leaf damage on eucalypts and sawfly grubs are now large.
Many mammals are breeding during petyan.
Ring-tailed possums carry young.
Koala young leave pouch at approximately 7 months old.
Koalas mate again.
Lots of mammal activity with holes appearing everywhere as bandicoots dig for grubs and echidnas dig for ants.
Bush rings with sounds of courting birds, frogs and insects.
Many birds are moulting.
Olive-backed orioles are calling.
Cuckoo shrikes are feeding on caterpillars.
Many birds are breeding and nesting, including:
- grey butcher birds
- superb fairy wrens
- wood swallows nesting after migrating south
Many birds returning south:
- fly catchers arrive from the north
- trillers move south
- rufous fantails and rainbow bee-eaters arrive from the north
Migratory birds return.
Snakes and skinks are active:
- skinks and snakes basking in the sun
- lizards becoming active among the rocks.
The wetland areas during Petyan
Swamp paperbarks are in flower.
Platypus lays eggs.
Snipe return to long grass around swamps.
Swamp hens have running young.
Reed warblers return.
Reptiles and amphibians
- loud frog chorus
- pobblebonk and growling grass frogs on the move
Eels migrate downstream.
Ballambar—season of butterflies
Early summer: Mid November-late January
The lifestyle for the Gariwerd communities during Ballambar
Bands moved back to the plains taking minimal possessions, e.g. weapons, digging sticks, baskets and cloaks. Stone tools were left behind.
Sweet drinks made from banksias and manna gums with water ribbon cooked and eaten.
The woodland areas during Ballambar
Many plants still in flower:
- teatrees, shaggy peas, hop goodenia and guinea flowers in bloom
- banksia, grass trees, blue dampiera and christmas mint bush
- sweet bursaria at flowering peak
- hycathinth, tongue and duck orchids
- Murnong is flowering in heathlands
Some plants in fruit/seeding:
- kangaroo grass seeding
- beard heath has berries
- seed pods of silver wattle open
Snakes and lizards bask in sun including copperhead snakes and jacky lizards.
Beetles and moths collect around lights at night.
Butterflies chase each other in the warm sun.
King crickets in old banksia logs.
Birds active include:
- orioles and white throated warblers calling
- squabbling honeyeaters clamber over the flowering banksias
- kites prey on mice and locusts
Many birds still have young including:
- bee-eater chicks hatch in nesting tunnels
- kookaburras and sacred kingfishers feeding young
- bee-eaters feed on young dragon flies
- pardalote and yellow robin nestlings leave nests
Many birds have post nesting moulting.
Pygmy possums have young.
Echidnas seeking ant nests.
The wetland areas during Ballambar
Water ribbons in creeks develop flowering spikes.
Nardoo are growing vigorously.
Cumbungi grows in streams and wetlands.
Grebes build floating grass nests on lakes for second brood.
Reptiles and amphibians
Water dragons sit on riverside rocks.
Tadpoles can be seen in ponds.
Dragonflies and water striders are mating.
Daphnia water fleas develop large egg masses.
Whirligig beetle larvae pupate in muddy cocoons.
Swarms of midges can be seen above ponds.