Indigenous Weather Knowledge

Walabunnba calendar


Approximately 300km north of Alice Springs, showing two seasons. The birth place of the Ngapa (water) Rain Dreaming.
Part of the central desert of Australia.


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Hot season
High temperatures
Bush fires
The rains



Dry season
Cooler temperatures

Hot wet Dry weather

Permission to use the Walabunnba seasonal calendar is granted by the Walya Altjerre (Earth Dreaming) Aboriginal Corporation.

Our country and the seasons of Walabunnba

"Our names are Lana, Rachel, Pansy, Trisha and Lindy. We are part of the Rankine family. We are happy to share our cultural knowledge about the seasons,the changes that take place and what we look for.

The country (dreaming place) that we belong to is Walabunnba (approximately 300km north of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia) which is the birth place of the Ngapa (water) Rain Dreaming. We are the care-takers of the Rain Dreaming which brings us our knowledge about our ceremonies, places, pictures, songs and dance. The Rain Dreaming has been handed down to us from our ancestors—it is our beginning and our understanding about many things.

We have lived in the central desert of Australia all of our lives. We participate in many Aboriginal cultural norms such as women's business ceremony, sorry business (upon the death of a family member), respect our Rain Dreaming and other peoples Dreaming stories and our relationships to each other (Kinship and Skin names). We speak more than one tribal language and English.

There are two distinctive seasons that we talk about - the hot and the cold weather. Desert life changes from hot weather to cold weather and so too our activities. The main changes we see are the different plants and animals and we feel the hot and cold weather coming and going."

Lana, Rachel, Pansy, Trisha and Lindy, family members of the Walya Altjerre Aboriginal Corporation sharing cultural knowledge.


Walabunnba seasons


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

Wangtanka—hot season

Hot and wetSummer: October-March

Bushfire time and heavy rains.


The lifestyle for the Walabunnba communities during Wangtanka

Sturt desert pea by Luke ShelleySturt desert pea by Luke Shelley

"The hot weather (summer) called Wantangka gradually gets hotter so we know to be ready for high temperatures, bush fires and rains. A variety of different bush foods become available and certain animals are ready to eat.

The Bush Plum is found around Central Australia in the hot weather (summer). The Bush Plum is not a traditional Dreaming unlike Bush Banana or Bush Potato. We eat the plum straight off the bush when it is dark. It is sweet to taste.

The Bush Bean (Wakalpirri) can be collected between winter and summer. During the middle of the hot weather the beans dry on the bush but we can still collect them for food. The women go out in the country with a blanket or large piece of calico material and place it under the bush bean tree. We then hit the leaves of the tree with a stick until the dry beans fall off and are easy to collect. We store the dried beans for months but sometimes we eat the bush bean straight away.

The dried bean is placed into a coolamon and mixed with water using our hands. We mix it until it is milky and then sip the juice. When we have finished we lay the beans out onto the blanket in the sun to dry and when it is really dried out the beans are crushed and ground together and we use it to make flour. We use that flour in the damper and store the flour for months at a time.

When a big storm is coming we hear the rain bird (Mirrlarr) call out. When we hear that bird we know that there will be a lot of rain coming. The rain fills the water holes but we always know where to find water even if there is no rain.

We share a ceremony which is held during the hot weather.

The grass is burnt after the rains which is the end of the hot weather. The burning helps the bush foods to grow again."

Lana, Rachel, Pansy, Trisha and Lindy, family members of the Walya Altjerre Aboriginal Corporation sharing cultural knowledge.





Yurluurrp—dry season


Winter: April-September

Dry time and cooler temperatures.

The lifestyle for the Walabunnba communities during Yurluurrp

"The Wantangka gradually goes away and Yurluurrp (cold weather) is coming.

Red kangaroo by Luke ShelleyRed kangaroo by Luke Shelley

The winter time foods include the Bush Tomato which is eaten when it is ripe and is bright yellow in colour. When it is dry it turns brown and can still be eaten. The dried yakatjirri can be ground and mixed with water to make a roll which is placed under the sun until dry. This roll can be stored.

We use the coolamon to carry the food around and for storage.

Bush Potato or Yarla is one of the main bush foods eaten on its own. It is cooked under the hot earth by placing the potato in the sand with hot coals on top.

The potato comes from a small shrub. We know when to dig for the potato because there are cracks on the earth along the root system leading to the potato. Sometimes the potato is shallow whilst other times it may be two metres into the ground.

The women go out to collect the yarla and use digging sticks, firstly to jab or hit the earth with the digging sticks listening for the hollow sound. If it is a hollow sound then they dig at that point to find the yarla.

During the colder months the kangaroo and goanna fatten up and they are best to eat at this time.

Throughout the year we notice two particular star constellations moving across the sky, they include The Seven Sisters and the Milky Way. We also feel the changing direction of the winds.

Knowledge about the weather is not secret business. You don't have to be a traditional owner of country to speak about the weather - it is the same as your culture: just everyday knowledge."

Lana, Rachel, Pansy, Trisha and Lindy, family members of the Walya Altjerre Aboriginal Corporation sharing cultural knowledge.