August – a season of it’s own

AUGUST — it’s when many of us head north and if we can’t do it, we dream about it.

We’ve had enough of the chills and ills of winter and the cold weather seems to have taken over our lives.

It’s in all our conversations and seems all consuming.

Recently, I heard someone mention that August was a season of its own and it struck a chord.

August is often a difficult month for me, and for many of those in my inner circle.

Sickness seems to just hang around and motivation flies out the window at its earliest convenience.

I was an immediate convert to this idea of a new season, so I did a little investigating.

Seems it’s not a new thing after all.

Allow me to explain.

Across Australia there are many Indigenous calendars.

Most have six or seven seasons, including that of the Kulin nation – the five Aboriginal language groups that make up what we know as Greater Melbourne and Central Victoria, including the Wurundjeri People.

According to Museums Victoria: “The Kulin have a detailed local understanding of the seasons and the environment. Each season is marked by the movement of the stars in the night sky and changes in the weather, coinciding with the life cycles of plants and animals.”

Their calendar has seven seasons and, not surprising, August is a season of its own: It’s called Guling Orchid Season, and it is marked by orchids flowering, the silver wattle bursting into colour and male koalas bellowing at night.

Poorneet Tadpole Season, (September and October) is when temperatures rise, rain continues and the pied currawongs call loudly. The days and nights are of equal length.

Buath Gurru Grass Flowering Season, (November) is warm and it often rains. (A good thing to remember as we start planning picnics.)

Kangaroo-Apple Season, (December) is marked by its changeable, thundery weather, longer days and shorter nights.

Biderap Dry Season, (January and February) has high temperatures and low rainfall.

Iuk (Eel) Season, (March) is when the hot winds stop and the temperatures cool, while the manna gums flower and the days and nights are again equal in length.

Waring Wombat Season, (April-July) has cool, rainy days and misty mornings, with our highest rainfall and lowest temperatures.

Seven seasons seem to make a lot of sense.

In my research, I stumbled across some notes from a workshop that was held in Warrandyte, in March 1994.

The workshop was initiated by Alan Reid, now a renowned naturalist and environmental writer.

He was interested in including Aboriginal knowledge of seasonal change together with local knowledge from regions of Australia, and had suggested the workshop to pool observations within the region to look for seasonal patterns.

This seemed to be the catalyst for ongoing work by other naturalists into the seasonal calendars of the Melbourne area.

Monitoring was undertaken by many birdwatchers, plant surveyors and others with an interest in documenting changes in local flora and fauna, and, later that year, an interim local calendar of six seasons for the middle Yarra region was launched.

Some years later, more observations were added, and the calendar was adjusted.

In brief, it seems they have done away with autumn for this six-season calendar, but here are some key points from their findings:

• high summer, from early December to early February, when beetles and xenica butterflies appear and young fish come up from the estuaries

• late summer, from early February to early April, when the Yarra River becomes muddier, young platypuses emerge and eels move downstream

• early winter, from early April to early June, when morning mists are in the valleys, migrating birds arrive from Tasmania and casuarinas flower

• deep winter, from early June to late July, when the weather becomes colder, heavy rains fall, orchid rosettes appear and silver wattles flower

• early spring, from late July to late September, when more wattles begin blooming, many species of birds begin nesting and joeys emerge from the pouch

• true spring, from late September to early December, when seed-eating birds, such as finches and parrots, begin nesting, platypuses lay eggs, the Yarra rises and tadpoles are in the ponds

Personally, I don’t want to do without the word autumn as it conjures up so much colour and meaning, but having a local calendar that incorporates indigenous knowledge seems to fill in the gaps and paint a more complete picture of the world immediately around us.

So, with a greater understanding from those that lived dependent on the rhythm of the seasons combined with the findings from the workshop in Warrandyte, perhaps we can all approach this next season a little wiser, be a little more prepared, and just maybe next winter won’t seem so long if we acknowledge Guling.

References: museumsvictoria.com.au/forest/climate/kulin.html emelbourne.net.au/biogs/EM01345b.htm Calendar source: Museum Victoria

40 Replies to “August – a season of it’s own”

  1. Hi Jo, I am a local teacher and have “stumbled” across your blog while searching for information regarding the Kulin nation seasons. I have contacted Museum Victoria regarding further information, but have noticed you have a beautiful colour representation of the seasons within your article. Could you please advise where I might find a copy of the complete image or if you might be able to email a copy of it? I can’t find it anywhere and would love to use it with the children at my centre. Many thanks!

    1. Hi Jennifer, my apologies for the delay in responding.
      I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

  2. Hi Jo,
    I really enjoyed your blog and found it very educational.
    I am also a teacher and I would love to put this image up in my classroom as well, it is very clear and appealing.
    I have tried to copy it but it unfortunatly becomes very blurry. Would you be able to email me a copy of it too.
    Thank you,
    Emma

    1. Hi Emma, my apologies for the delay in responding.
      I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

    1. Hi Sam, my apologies for the delay in responding.
      I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

  3. Hi Jo,
    Could you please send me a copy of the image as well. That would be greatly appreciated. I am currently designing a space in my architecture class incorporating the local indigenous seasons. This information was extremely helpful.

    Thanks,
    Jacob

    1. Hi Jacob, my apologies for the delay in responding.
      I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

  4. Hi Jo,
    I am also a teacher and have been searching for a good visual representation of the Kulin Nations seasons. Could you please email me and let me know how I could get a copy of this beautiful graphic for my class. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Sam, my apologies for the delay in responding.
      I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Have you tried just copying the image? That might work.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

  5. Hi Jo,
    thanks for posting this.
    I’m part of a program teaching about other ways of knowing – which and are also thinking about Wurundjeri seasons as a contrast to our very European centred seasons – and would LOVE a high res copy of that image!
    many thanks, Gregory

    1. Hi Gregory, my apologies for the delay in responding.
      I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

  6. Hi Jo,
    Thankyou for your informative and inspirational blog. I’m a mum looking for a beautiful representation of the Kulin Seasons just to put in my home, which are very hard to find! I want to teach my children about these seasons as a way of connecting to the land and the indigenous knowledge. I absolutely love the way you have represented this in your image.
    Can I please ask as to how I can have a copy to print?
    Kind regards and thank you

    1. Hi Sarah, my apologies for the delay in responding.
      I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Have you tried just copying the image? It may work.

      Kind regards,
      Jo

  7. Hey Jo,
    I’m a local educator and would like a copy of the seasonal image in your article. Could you please email me a copy?
    Thank you,
    Seth

    1. Hi Seth, my apologies for the delay in responding.
      I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

  8. Hi Jo,
    I’m a bit late to the party (perhaps partly due to the lingering effects of August), but I am also a teacher and also wondering if I could have a copy of the image as well!
    Thank you!
    Beatrice

    1. Hi Beatrice, my apologies for the delay in responding.
      I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

    1. Hi Melissa, my apologies for the delay in responding.
      I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

  9. I would love a copy too if that is okay. We are about to embark on a unit re Aboriginal seasons and your seasonal wheel is unique and would be a great resource for us to refer to.

    Many thanks

    1. Hi Helen, my apologies for the delay in responding.
      I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

  10. Hi Jo,

    thank you for sharing all this. Could I have a digital copy via email also please? I’d like this with educators.

    Regards

    Az

    1. Hi Azul, Thank you for reading my article, I am so glad you enjoyed it.
      I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

    1. Hi Leah, Thank you for reading my article, I am so glad you enjoyed it.
      I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

  11. Hi there. I just found this article and love it – I’ve been fascinated by the idea of local seasons for some time now. I, too, would be interested in hearing where you got the image from as it’s a lovely one.

    1. Hi Clare, Thank you for reading my article, I am so glad you enjoyed it.
      I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

      PS If you are interested in more on this topic, I am a journalist with the Warrandyte Diary, an independent local newspaper that can be found athttp://warrandytediary.com.au/
      Our Indigenous writer has a very interesting column every month and you may want to check it out

    2. Hi Clare, my apologies for the delay in responding.
      I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

  12. Hi Jo,
    I too would love a printable copy of your wonderful 7 season image to use with my students and parents.
    Thank you,
    Vicky

    1. Hi Vicky, I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

  13. Hello Jo
    I am an early childhood educator and stumbled upon your article while looking for information about the traditional seasonal calendar of the Kulin Nation. Thank you for sharing your article. I was wondering like the people above if you were able to share where I would be able to get a copy of the beautiful representation of the seasons you have used here with your article as I would really love to display it In my classroom.
    Warm regards
    Maria

    1. Hi Maria, I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

  14. Hi Jo,
    I am echoing the comments above, in that I’d love to be able to sue a copy of the calendar image in my Kinder. Can you let me know how I can get a copy?

    1. Hi Gabrielle, I am trying to source a new version of the image and will be in touch with you and all others that have requested a copy as soon as possible.
      Originally it was part of a display at the Melbourne Museum and since then the original work has been installed in a garden in RMIT I think – anyway, as soon as I can find it, I will make it available.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my work,
      Kind regards,
      Jo

  15. Hi Jo,

    This is an incredible image, beautifully illustrating the seasons. Can you please send me a copy of the image when you have one available?

    Thank you
    Rachel

    1. Hi Rachel,
      I am having trouble locating a better version of this image but will send to all that have requested when I do find it.
      Thanks for reading, and making contact,
      Jo

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