Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have worked with environmental and seasonal observations for more than 65,000 years. They have passed on these observations from generation to generation as part of the world’s oldest continuous culture.
Weather and seasonal patterns not only vary across different parts of Australia but have also changed over time. Indigenous communities developed varying ways of observing these pattersn, depending on where they were. The four seasons Europeans observe are a basic system whereas indigenous communities have developed more sophisticated systems incorporating various environmental and animal observations.
In our region, the Dja Dja Wurrung community recognise six seasons. The amazing Six Dja Dja Wurrung Seasons Mural at Daylesford Primary School was created by local artist Natasha Carter, a Djaara, Yorta Yorta and Jaru woman and was launched April last year. School parents raised funds over three years with Daylesford Rotary and Hepburn Shire Council contributing significant amounts.
The six seasons recognise times when Emus pair and lay eggs, then similarly when ducks nest, golden wattle time, seasons when water is very abundant, times to collect seeds, when fish lay eggs, times to make tools and implements, a range of environmental conditions and other factors. The earlier piece in The Wombat Post provides further information and recognition as does an article in The Local .
If you want a closer look at this wonderful mural you can come to the Farmers Market which is run by Daylesford Rotary at the School on the fourth Saturday of each month. It opens before 9am and runs to 1pm with the next one on Saturday 23rd August. (At other times, you should not enter the school grounds without permission.)
Indigenous calendars vary from location to location and can take into account not only weather patterns but also the night sky, behaviours of animals and plant activity.
Right across Australia there are hundreds of indigenous groups that have their own cultural traditions, languages and histories. The Australian Government estimates that at the time of European colonisation there were around 320,000 indigenous people living in Australia with the majority being in the southeast and in the Murray River Valley and its tributaries.
The Bureau of Meteorology has extensive information regarding “Indigenous Weather Knowledge” across the whole continent. To see this information go to the “Indigenous Weather Knowledge” section via the heading at the bottom right-hand side of the BOM home page.
In preparing this article, recognition and respect is given to the traditional owners of our continent and acknowledgement is given to the BOM site.
Victor Szwed is a Daylesford resident who contributes a monthly weather column to The Wombat Post.