Aboriginal Culture

Noongar six seasons 

In the south west of Australia, the Noongar seasonal calendar includes six different seasons in a yearly cycle. 

The six seasons - Birak, Bunuru, Djeran, Makuru, Djilba and Kambarang - represent the seasonal changes we see across the South West annually. 

Noongar Seasons Birak
Noongar Seasons Birak
Noongar Seasons Banuru
Noongar Seasons Banuru
Noongar Seasons Djeran
Noongar Seasons Djeran
Noongar Seasons Makuru
Noongar Seasons Makuru
Noongar Seasons Djilba
Noongar Seasons Djilba
Noongar Seasons Kambarang
Noongar Seasons Kambarang

Birak - First Summer 

December to January

  • In this hot dry season, controlled fires were lit in the scrublands, to make hunting easier, as animals were forced out into the open.
  • Mungitch or honey-sweet beverage, from the nectar of the Banksia flower-spike, steeped in water, was drunk at large gatherings.
  • When the Moodjar (‘Christmas Tree’) was in blossom, it was time to move towards the coast.

Bunuru - Second Summer 

February to March

  • In the hottest season of the year, large sections of the country were abandoned for lack of water. Fish from the sea and estuaries constituted a large proportion of people’s diet.
  • Burning continued from Birak to reduce undergrowth and bring on lush growth of grasses and young plants.
  • Bark and timber from Tuart trees were used to make containers, shields and temporary shelters.

Djeran - Autumn

April to May

  • The loud flute-like carolling of the Kulbardi (Magpie) is distinctive at this time of year. According to the Noongar story the magpie fought with the crow; the crow threw the magpie in a hot fire; the white ash streaked the magpie’s feathers white.
  • Numbit, Marri blossom soaked in water to make a honey-sweet beverage, was relished by the Noongar people. Djiridji (Zamia) seeds would be processed for up to four weeks before eating either raw or roasted.

Makuru - Winter

June to July

  • In this cold and wet season swans began moulting, being unable to fly they became easy prey. Women and children would drive the swimming birds across open water of lakes/rivers to the men, who waited concealed, for the birds to come within reach.
  • During winter, Nyoongar people always carried a smouldering branch of Banksia held beneath their booka (kangaroo skin cloak).
  • Luscious edible witchetty grub was available in abundance from Grass Tree. Tubers of native potato were dug beneath Wandoo trees.

Djilba - First Spring

August to September

  • Black Wattle provided a good source of Bardi or Witchetty grubs and the soft green seeds of many acacia species were roasted and eaten in the pods.
  • Ngolark (White-tailed Black Cockatoo), identified by harsh wailing cries, were often seen tearing open thick woody seed pods of Marri nuts.
  • Controlled burning from Birak through Boonaro, to reduce undergrowth, brings on lush growth of grasses and young plants in Djilba, which attracted animals later in the cycle.

Kambarang - Second Spring

October to November

  • With longer dry periods groups start moving towards the coast. As the season advanced, people searched the forests for waterfowl, bird’s eggs, parrots, cockatoos, hawks, pigeons and fledgling squabs.
  • Hunting also focused on swamps and wetlands, freshwater crayfish, edible frogs were caught by hand, freshwater tortoises were caught in dwindling pools.
  • Jarrah flower would provide rich source of nectar for bees, birds and possums, the fruits were strung together as necklaces and hair ornaments; the wood was made into spear throwers to increase the reach of a spear when thrown.

Noongar language

Kaya 

Nidja

Maar koorliny Dabakarn waangkanYira yaak
  Hello  This/here  WritingSay it slow    Stand up   
YoowartWindjiNganop, djinang, niWarn baal!Moorlany
NoWhere?Stop, look, listenDo it (like this)!Line up
Ni!Yoowarl koorlWaangkanYalakitjDordong warn
Listen!Come hereSpeakWaitMake a circle
Koora kooraBenangKedala-kKedala-ngatYeyi
Long agoTomorrowDuring the dayDuring the nightNow
Benang-benangKaya, ngany djoorabiny noonook djinang   
SometimesHello, I'm happy to see you   

For more information, visit the Noongar Boodjar Language Cultural Aboriginal Corporation website.

The Harvey Community Resource Centre runs Noongar language classes from time to time,  contact the centre to find out more.