Indigenous Weather Knowledge

Yanyuwa calendar


The Yanyuwa calendar covers the Gulf of Carpenteria and shows five seasons.


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Late summer

Early-storm period
Warkungarnarra—wet season cyclones



Wet season
Heavy rainfall
Warkungarnarra—wet season cyclones



Dry season
Cold weather
Clear skies, no rain


Early summer

Hot season
The ground is hot
First of the rains



Hot and wet
The ground is hot
First of the rains
Warkungarnarra—wet season cyclones

Cyclones Rainy Windy Hot Monsoon

Permission to use the Yanyuwa seasonal calendar is granted by Karrakayn (Annie Isaac), a senior Law person of the Yanyuwa.


Wardaman seasons


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

Wunthurru—early storm season

CyclonesLate summer: January-February

High humidity, hot, moonsoons.


The lifestyle for the Yanyuwa communities during Wunthurru

Temperatures regularly top 40 degrees C with accompanying high humidity. Nighttime temperature rarely falls below 25 degrees C with humidity persisting. Throughout Wunthurru there may be intense rainless electrical storms with lightning strikes during such storms often starting bushfires. Along the coast, rolling clouds (morning glories) often appear. These clouds indicate that flying foxes and certain bird species are about to start their seasonal migration.

The monsoon, a seasonal wind, has a heavy hold on the weather during January and February. It brings cloud and heavy showers. The daytime temperatures are high with a sticky humidity. Overnight temperatures fall to the mid 20 degrees celsius. The first storms of the wet season provide relief from the hot humid conditions.

Harvested plants and animals

Cormorant and egret chicks are still available with land snails prevalent after the first rains. Ma-bikiki (green plum), ma-manja (wild passion fruit), a-kalwakalwa (white plum) and ma-wijku (yams) are harvested during this season. Yams are collected in such a way as to allow for regrowth.





Lhabayi—end of the wet season


Autumn: March-May

Heavy rainfall, monsoon weakened.
Sometimes cyclones and high wind.

The lifestyle for the Yanyuwa communities during Lhabayi

Lhabayi is a period of heavy rainfall with the rain falling less violently than during Wunthurru. The monsoonal winds weaken. An unpredictable variable in the wet season are warlungarnarra (cyclones) that can occur any time between November and May. March is a common month for cyclones. Late in the wet season there are usually burrumanamala (knock him down) winds. These are windy rain storms that often flatten the high grass that has rapidly grown during the wet season.

Harvested plants and animals

Dugong and turtle are still available early in the season.





Rra-mardu—dry season


Winter: June-July

Sunny, pleasant.
Not too hot.

The lifestyle for the Yanyuwa communities during Rra-mardu

A long pleasant period with sunny, generally cloudless, days and cool evenings. Rra-wuna (heavy fogs) often occur. The fogs produce very heavy dews making sleeping in the open wet and unpleasant. Murnnyi (winter rain) is rare.

Harvested plants and animals

Waterlily by Gavin Heatherington TaitWaterlily by Gavin Heatherington Tait

Fruit available during this season includes wularia (bush bananas), ma-warrangayi and a-mangkudiji (island fruit). Ma-rnayi (water lily) is harvested as a food source.

Rra-mardu sees the return of the flying foxes. These creatures are used for food once their young have been weaned.

Bush honey is very rich and plentiful during the early dry season due to the number of plants flowering.

The kuthajuthayi or oystercatcher lays eggs on the beaches from mid-season; sea bird eggs are cooked; and, muyu begins, ie the migration of mullet and stingray upstream.





Ngardaru—hot season


Early summer: August-September

Winds becoming hot.
Dust storms beginning.

The lifestyle for the Yanyuwa communities during Ngardaru

Monitor by Gavin Heatherington TaitMonitor by Gavin Heatherington Tait

Early in the season, a-wurrarumu, the north wind blows from the sea, becoming yunduyunduwarra or hot winds as the season progresses. Kurumbirribirri (dust storms) are prevalent. During Ngardara, grasses die back, waterholes often dry out and dust storms are whipped up.

Harvested plants and animals

Cycad and pandanus nuts are harvested then ground, dried and stored to be made later into dampers. Mature water lily corms are harvested.





Na-yinarramba—humid season


Summer: October-December

Very hot ground
Some inconsistent rain.

The lifestyle for the Yanyuwa communities during Na-yinarramba

Sunset by Gavin Heatherington TaitSunset by Gavin Heatherington Tait

Na-yinarramba is hot humid weather. It is a season of extreme human discomfort as temperatures regularly top 40 degrees Celsius with accompanying high humidity. There is little relief at night time as the temperature rarely falls below 25 degrees Celsius and the high humidity persists. During this period there are often intense rainless electrical storms. Lightning strikes often start bushfires. Along the coast, julayarriyarri or rolling clouds known as 'morning glories' are seen. The cloud indicates that flying foxes and certain bird species are about to commence their seasonal migration.

Harvested plants and animals

Fishing is the focus during Na-yinarramba as it is too hot for other activity. Barramundi is caught in fish traps at creek mouths; sea turtle eggs become available.