Although mainstream education teaches the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, Western Australia’s Noongar Aboriginal people lived by six seasons. These seasons clearly indicate change in weather. Aboriginal culture dates back tens of thousands of years and reveals an astounding knowledge and understanding of the environment.
Through this ancient wisdom, Noongar Aboriginal people (sometimes spelled Nyoongar or Nyungar) lived across the south west of Western Australia. Life was lived according to the six seasons, moving with the availability of various food sources, weather patterns and cultural habits.
The six Noongar Aboriginal Seasons are:
- Birak (December-January)
- Bunuru (February-March)
- Djeran (April-May)
- Makuru (June-July)
- Djilba (August-September)
- Kambarang (October-November)
In June and July it’s the season of…
Makuru sees strong winds, storms, and rain. It’s cold and wet. Communities generally moved away from the stormy coast and further inland for more sheltered locations. Travelling was limited and campfires formed the heart of communities, providing warmth and a place to gather for music and dreamtime storytelling. Food changed to inland sources such as larger grazing animals. Nothing was discarded as bones and sinew were used to make tools such as spears and hides were added to shelters or used as robes.
Understanding the land and identifying the changing seasons has allowed Aboriginal people to live in harmony with their environment for tens of thousands of years. There was no need to change it. Instead it was respected, adapting to seasonal fluctuations throughout the year. The way of life was respectful to the land and animals and it showed a deep understanding of the natural environment.
The night sky also played an important part in day to day life and worked hand in hand with the six seasons. The knowledge of star patterns and dark regions of the night sky represents a calendar that depicts special times of the year. The night sky plays a significant part in cultural beliefs and dreamtime stories.
Artist, Rikki Garlett
The beautiful image above was created by Rikki Garlett, a local Ballardong artist who grew up in Northam. Her ambition is to create traditional art, inspired by the stories of her culture shared to her as a child. She sees her art as a way to share knowledge and connect with the community. If you would like Rikki for other projects, please contact Wheatbelt NRM.
The Noongar Calendar
Wheatbelt NRM works with the Noongar Elders Advisory Group each year to produce a Noongar Calendar celebrating the Dreamtime. 2020’s calendar features seven original traditional artworks of local Dreamtime stories and totems. It brings together some of the stories shared by the Noongar community.
READY TO FOLLOW THE SIX NOONGAR SEASONS?
The Noongar Calendar shows the way to celebrate the year from a different perspective.