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Climate, Weather and Aboriginal Culture
A culture in which all things past and present are interrelated
Introduction A Precious Heritage The Rainbow Serpent Indigenous Seasonal Descriptions

References


Indigenous Seasonal Descriptions

Australia's climate is diverse. Monsoon tropics, desert, savanna, alpine and temperate regions can all be found in various locations. The sheer diversity of ecological zones negates the concept of a rigid European seasonal calendar for the entire continent. The Aboriginal people of Australia inhabited distinct regions that were usually concordant with geographical and ecological regions. An intimate knowledge of the environment was paramount for survival and the resulting meteorological view of the Aboriginal people is one of great diversity, where the nomenclature of the seasons is often dependant on localised events or resources.

The ability to link events in the natural world to a cycle that permitted the prediction of seasonal events was a key factor in their success. These natural barometers were not uniform across the land but instead used the reaction of plants and animals to gauge what was happening in the environment.

The presences of march flies, for example, was an indication to the Gadgerong people that crocodile eggs could be found, to look for native honey, and it was approaching the late dry season.

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

This produces a far more intricate and subtle overview of Australia's climate than the 4-season European climate description of Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring, applied as it is across most areas of the continent.

  Aboriginal Seasons
Month European
Seasons
Minang
SW WA
Temperate
Arrernte
Central
Australia
Desert
Gadgerong
NW NT
Monsoon
Tropics
Tasmania
NE TAS
Cool
Temperate
DEC Summer Beruc Uterne Bandenyirrin (cont) Wegtellanyta
JAN Mayurr
FEB Meertilluc
MAR Autumn
APR Pourner Alhwerrrpeurle Nguag/Gagulong
MAY Tunna
JUN Winter Mawkur Alhwerrpa
JUL
AUG Meerningal
SEP Spring Ulpulpe Pawenya peena
OCT Uterne urle Bandenyirrin
NOV


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