A daigram of a circle divided into 13 pie sections with information about seasonal events.

The Ngan'gi Seasons Calendar

The Ngan'gi Seasons Calendar

Indigenous ecological knowledge can tell us much about the ecology of northern Australia. The Nauiyu community from Daly River in the Northern Territory worked with CSIRO to create a seasonal calendar. (1 page)

  • 27 April 2011 | Updated 12 October 2012

The Ngan’gi Seasons calendar was developed by key knowledge-holders of the Ngan’gi language from Nauiyu Nambiyu and CSIRO as part of a Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge (http://www.track.gov.au/ [external link]) project on Indigenous socio-economic values and rivers flows in northern Australia.

The seasonal cycle recorded on the calendar closely follows the cycle of native annual speargrass, with many of the 13 seasons identified named according to speargrass life stages. For example, the season known as ‘Wurr wirribem dudutyamu’ occurs when speargrass seed heads are swollen and are hanging heavily. The term ‘taddo’ refers to the sounds of the seed heads knocking together as they start to open up, and indicates that the rainy season is nearing its end.

The Ngan’gi Seasons calendar represents a wealth of Indigenous ecological knowledge. The development of the calendar was driven by a community desire to document seasonal-specific knowledge of the Daly River and its wetlands, including the environmental indicators that act as cues for bush tucker collection.

The calendar also addresses community concern about the loss of traditional knowledge, as older people from the language group pass away and younger people no longer speak Ngan’gi as a first language.     

Emma Woodward, Patricia Marrfurra McTaggart, Molly Yawulminy, Catherine Ariuu, Dorothy Daning, Kitty Kamarrama, Benigna Ngulfundi, Maureen Warrumburr and Mercia Wawul. 2009. Ngan’gi Seasons, Nauiyu – Daly River, Northern Territory, Australia. CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Darwin.

Woodward EL. 2010. Creating the Ngan’gi Seasons Calendar: Reflections on Engaging Indigenous Knowledge Authorities in Research. Learning Communities [external link, PDF 3.82MB]. International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts Australia. Issue 2: 125-137.