Indigenous Weather Knowledge

Tiwi calendar


The Tiwi country and language area are in the Bathurst and Melville Islands, which make up the Tiwi Islands. There are three major Tiwi seasons and thirteen minor overlapping seasons.

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Wet season

The wet season when rain falls consistently.

Minor seasons
Second part of Pumwanyingari
Second part of Kurukurari


Dry season

The dry season of fire and smoke.

Minor seasons
First part of Pumutingari
First part of Yartupwari


Hot and wet season

The season of hot weather and high humidity.

Minor seasons
Second part of Yartupwari
Second part of Pumutingari
First part of Pumwanyingari
First part of Kurukurari

Rain Dry weather Hot and wet

Permission to publish the Tiwi Island seasonal calendar is granted by Tiwi Land Council 2015.



Tiwi seasons

Thumbnail of Tiwi seasonal calendar with link to pdf Thumbnail of Tiwi plants and animals calendar with link to pdf

CSIRO worked in collaboration with Traditional Owners from the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin in the Northern Territory, and the Tiwi Lands Council to develop a calendar of Tiwi seasonal knowledge, and a calendar of plants and animals of Tiwi significance.

The development of the calendars came from a desire to document seasonal-specific knowledge of the Tiwi Islands and its biodiversity in an appealing format accessible to both students and the broader community, as well as a strong concern about the loss of knowledge as older people pass away.

Senior Tiwi Traditional Owner, Bernard Tipiloura said there has been a significant loss of knowledge over the past 10 to 15 years on the Tiwi Islands.

"We're worried that kids are not learning culture so we need to think of new ways to teach them and these calendars will make a huge difference. Our kids need to become strong Tiwi people and I want to show them the ways to do that", he said.

Mr Tipiloura said he felt very good about helping to create the Tiwi calendars.

"The more of these things we can do, the better it will be for Tiwi culture," he said. "We need to educate the children so they can take over from us when we're gone."

Navigate back up to the calendar overview with the links at the end of each season.

Tipiloura B, Wilson J, Johnson L, Tipungwuti J, Orsto E, Puruntatameri J and McKaige B. 2014. Tiwi Seasons, Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory, Australia. CSIRO Land and Water, Darwin NT


Jamutakari - major rain season

Rain timeRain time: December-February

Rain falling consistently
Northwest wind blowing

Signs it is Jamutakari time

Crested tern by Luke ShelleyCrested tern by Luke Shelley

Jamutakari is the wet season when pakitiringa (rain) falls consistently every day and the swamps, creeks and rivers are full. Wunijaka, the northwest wind blows and brings rain. There is much pumurali (lightning) and thunder with the rain.

Minor seasons that can occur in Jamutakari time

  • Tawutawungari
  • Pumwanyingari
  • Kurukurari
  • Mumpikari
  • Wurringawunari
  • Marrakatari

Plants and animals during Jamutakari

  • Yankumwani - green plum (Buchanania obovata)
  • Pinyama - pink bush apple (Syzygium suborbiculare)
  • Jaliwaki - bush potato (Brachystelma glabriflorum)
  • Wuninga - northern brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecular)
  • Yirrikipayi - saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)
  • Arlaminga - barramundi (Lates calcarifer)
  • Martapani - crested tern (Sterna bergii) eggs
  • Kamuli - cocky apple (Planchonia careya)


Kumunupunari - major dry season

Dry and hotDry weather time: March-August

Fire present
Smoke present

Signs it is Kumunupunari time

When there is the dry season of fire and smoke.

Minor seasons that can occur in Kumunupunari time

  • Wurrijingari
  • Kimirrakinari
  • Pumutingari
  • Yirriwinari
  • Mirniputari
  • Kumwari
  • Yartupwari

Plants and animals during Kumunupunari

  • Kurlama - yam (Dioscorea bulbifera)
  • Purnarrika - water lily (Nymphaea violacea)
  • Wupwarna - bush pumpkin (Amorphophallus paeoniifolius)
  • Muranga - long yam (Dioscorea transversa)
  • Jukwarringa - mud Mussel (Polymesoda erosa)
  • Kawukawuni - bush turkey (Ardeotis australis)
  • Yilinga - carpet python (Morelia spilota)
  • Jarrakalaninga - turtles


Tiyari - major hot and wet season

EelHigh humidity time: September-November

Hot weather
High humidity

Signs it is Tiyari time

Whistling duck by Luke ShelleyWhistling duck by Luke Shelley

When there is the hot season of high humidity.

Minor seasons that can occur in Tiyari time

  • Yartupwari
  • Pumutingari
  • Pumwanyingari
  • Kurukurari
  • Milikitorinari

Plants and animals during Tiyari

  • Minta - cycad (Cycas armstrongii)
  • Malinki - peanut tree (Sterculia quadrifida)
  • Mayimampi - magpie geese (Anseranas semipalmata)
  • Mantuwunjini - dugong (Dugong dugon)
  • Jurriyi - whistling duck (Dendrocygna spp.)
  • Yurwuli - mangrove worms


The thirteen minor seasons

The indicated months are a rough guide only to when these seasons may occur. Seasons can overlap.


Can occur during Jamutakari

Season of the knock-em-downs winds. This is the first part of the dry season when the first dry winds blow in from the southeast, flattening the tall grass and drying up surface water.


Can occur during Kumunupunari

Season of fire when dry grass is burnt.


Can occur during Kumunupunari and Tiyari

Season of the wind that flakes skin.

Yirriwinari and Mirniputari

Can occur during Kumunupunari

Season of cold weather in the middle of the dry season, mid-June to the end of July, is signalled by the flowering of Wurritjinga (Eucalyptus confertiflora).


Can occur during Kumunupunari

Season of fog, when temperatures are low and fog develops in the mornings.


Can occur during Kumunupunari and Tiyari

Season of the dry creek bed, when waterholes and creek beds dry up.


Can occur during Tiyari

Season of hot feet, when the hot ground burns the soles of feet. Food gathering is concentrated in the mangroves and jungle patches instead of the dry plains and woodlands.


Can occur during Jamutakari and Tiyari

Season of thunder. Humidity increases and clouds develop every afternoon but there is little rain.


Can occur during Jamutakari and Tiyari

Season of the mangrove worm. The worms are easy to find and are sweet and filling.


Can occur during Jamutakari and Tiyari

Season of muddy possum tracks. When the first rains fall the possums return to their trees from foraging on the ground at night and leave tell-tale muddy footprints on the trunk of the tree. This makes possum hunting easier.


Can occur during Jamutakari

Season of the clap sticks. Kurlama (special yam) ceremonies are held now.


March-end of May
Can occur during Kumunupunari

Season of the flowers. Many trees and shrubs flower and fruit.


Can occur during Jamutakari

Season when tall grass flowers, short and indicates the end of the wet season.


Can occur during Jamutakari

Season of the knock-em-downs, short and indicates the end of the wet season.