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You’re probably familiar with northern Australia’s two seasons: the dry season (April to October) and the wet tropical summer (November to March). But the Yolŋu of East Arnhem Land recognise six different seasons based on thousands of years of weather patterns detected across their country. The transitions between seasons are marked by subtle variations in the weather, the plants in flower and the bush foods that are most abundant.

The seasons

Gurnmul or Waltjarnmirri

January to early March

This time is what is known more commonly as ‘wet season’ with heavy rainfall.

Mirdawarr

Late March to April

This is the end of the ‘wet season’ with scattered showers and wind in the south east quarter. The air is still hot and humid with goose hunting expeditions into swamps traditionally occurring during this time. The fish and vegetable foods are plentiful in this season.

Dhaarratharramirri

Late April to August

Known more commonly as ‘dry season’ with east and south-east winds, this is when the traditional systematic burning of extensive grassed areas would occur as well as communal drives for kangaroo, bandicoots and goanna.  

Rarranhdharr

September to early October

This is the hot dry season with north-east winds and the first thunder heard. Traditional nomadic activities lessen after the burning of grass in previous season. This is an important ceremonial time in Yolŋu culture and is also when you will see the native stringybark tree in flower.

Worlmamirri

Late October to early December

The time is the ‘nose of the wet season’ with maximum heat and humidity immediately before the rain season. This period will see violent thunderstorms of increasing frequency.

Baarramirri

Late December to early January

This short season has north-west winds and is the breaking of the wet. This is when the Macassar fleets used to arrive and begin fishing for trepang.