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Aboriginal seasons

Bininj/Mungguy (local Aboriginal people) recognise six seasons in the Kakadu region:

Aboriginal Seasons


Storms building over Kakadu - Photo: G. Miles

Gunumeleng, from mid-October to late December, may in fact last from a few weeks to several months. It is the pre-monsoon season of hot weather that becomes more and more humid. Thunderstorms build in the afternoons and scattered showers bring a tinge of green to the dry land. As the streams begin to run, acidic water that washes from the floodplains can cause fish to die in billabongs with low oxygen levels. Waterbirds spread out as surface water and new growth become more widespread. Barramundi move from the waterholes downstream to the estuaries to breed. This was when Bininj/Mungguy moved camp from the floodplains to the stone country, to shelter from the violent storms of the coming wet season.



Thunderstorm North of Cannon Hill - Photo: I Morris

Gudjewg, from January to March, can be described as the 'true' wet season. It is a time of thunderstorms, heavy rain and flooding. The heat and humidity generate an explosion of plant and animal life. Spear grass grows to over 2 metres tall and creates a silvery-green hue throughout the woodlands. Magpie geese nest in the sedgelands. Flooding may cause goannas, snakes and rats to seek refuge in the trees. Eggs and stranded animals are a good food source for Bininj/Mungguy during this time.



Spear grass flattened by strong winds - Photo: I. Morris

Banggerreng, in April, is the season when the rain clouds have dispersed and clear skies prevail. The vast expanses of floodwater recede and streams start to run clear. Most plants are fruiting and animals are caring for their young. Violent, windy storms early in this season flatten the spear grass; they are called 'knock 'em down' storms.



Waterlillies on Djarrdjarr Billabong - Photo: I. Morris

Yegge, from May to mid-June, is relatively cool with low humidity. Early morning mists hang low over the plains and waterholes. The shallow wetlands and billabongs are carpeted with water lilies. Drying winds and flowering Darwin woolly butt tell Bininj/Mungguy that it is time to start burning the woodlands in patches to 'clean the country' and encourage new growth for grazing animals.



Fire raging through Kakadu - Photo: G. Miles

Wurrgeng, from mid-June to mid-August, is the 'cold weather' time; humidity is low, daytime temperatures are around 30C and night-time temperatures are around 17C. Most creeks stop flowing and the floodplains quickly dry out. Burning continues, extinguished by the dew at night. By day, birds of prey patrol the fire lines as insects and small animals try to escape the flames. Magpie geese, fat and heavy after weeks of abundant food, and a myriad of other waterbirds crowd the shrinking billabongs.



Magpie Geese gather around billabongs - Photo: I. Morris

Gurrung, from mid-August to mid-October, is hot and dry. It is still 'goose time' but also time for Bininj/Mungguy to hunt file snakes and long-necked turtles. Sea turtles lay their eggs on the sandy beaches of Field Island and West Alligator Head and goannas rob their nests sometimes. White-breasted wood swallows arrive as thunderclouds build, signalling the return of Gunumeleng.


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