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Climate, Weather and Culture
A culture in which all things past and present are interrelated
Introduction A precious heritage Culture and beliefs Indigenous seasonal descriptions


Indigenous Seasonal Descriptions

Australia's climate is diverse. Monsoon tropics, desert, savannah, alpine and temperate regions can all be found in various locations. The sheer diversity of ecological zones can't be meaningfully simplified to a rigid European seasonal calendar for the entire continent. Aboriginal people inhabit regions that are geographically and ecologically distinct. The meteorological view of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is one of great diversity, where the names of the seasons are often dependent on localised events or resources.

The ability to link events in the natural world to a cycle that predicts seasonal changes is a key factor in the successful development of Indigenous communities. These natural barometers are not uniform across the land but instead use the reaction of plants and animals to gauge what is happening in the environment.

To the people of D'harawal Country during Marrai'gang, when the cries of the Marrai'gang (quoll) seeking his mate can be heard, is the time when the lilly-pilly fruit begins to ripen on trees. However, when the lilly-pillys start to fall, it is time to mend the old warm cloaks from the last cold season, or make new ones, and begin the yearly trek to the coastal areas.

As a result of all this, seasonal cycles as described by the various Aboriginal cultures differ substantially according to location.

This produces a far more intricate and subtle overview of Australia's climate than the four-season European climate description of summer, autumn, winter and spring, applied as it is across most areas of the continent.


Indigenous Australian Seasons
Month European
Miriwoong calendar Nyoongar calendar D'harawal calendar
DEC Summer Nyinggiyi-mageny (wet weather time) Birak, (dry and hot) Parra'dowee, (warm and wet)
JAN Burran, (hot and dry)
FEB Bunuru, (hottest)
MAR Autumn
APR Warnka-mageny (cold weather time) Bjeran, (cool begins) Marrai'gang, (wet becoming cooler)
JUN Winter Makuru, (coldest, wettest) Burrugin, (cold, short days)
AUG Djilba, (wet days and cool nights) Wiritjiribin, (cold and windy)
SEP Spring Barndenyirriny (hot weather time) Ngoonungi, (cool, getting warmer)
OCT Kambarang, (long dry periods)
NOV Parra'dowee, (warm and wet)

Table 1. A comparison of various Aboriginal seasons
from around Australia with the European calendar