Kakadu’s six seasons

Forget about the tropical “wet and dry” seasons, or summer and winter! In Kakadu’s Gundjeihmi language there names for the six distinct seasons that Aboriginal (Bininj/Mungguy) people recognise by observing nature and the land they live off, not checking the month on a calendar! Also, the products that available at our ‘bush supermarket’ change with the seasons. The length and severity of seasons and month they occur often vary from year to year. Check out our Aboriginal seasonal calendar at the bottom of page. Gundjeihmi names are in italic. Right now it’s Gudjewg… Monsoon season! “Learn more about our six seasons at our Kakadu Culture Camp!”

Gudjewg December to March Gudjewg can be described as the ‘true’ wet season. Barra monsoon wind blows from the north-west. It is a time of thunderstorms, heavy rain and flooding. The heat and humidity generate an explosion of plant and animal life. Spear grass grows to over 2 metres tall and creates a silvery-green hue throughout the woodlands. Andjarduk red apples are ripe, Anmorluk Kakadu Plums are in flower. Bamurru Magpie geese nest in the sedgelands. Flooding may cause goannas, snakes and rats to seek refuge in the trees. Eggs and stranded animals are a good food source for Bininj/Mungguy during this time. Dawhdaw dollar birds gorge insects. Park Rangers are on airboat patrol. A great time to tour Kakadu, not many tourists, but sometimes the road to Darwin is cut by floods. Cyclone season!
Banggereng April Banggerreng is the season when the rain clouds have dispersed and clear skies prevail. Djimurru wind blows from the south-east. The vast expanses of floodwater recede and streams start to run clear. Most plants are fruiting and animals are caring for their young. Dark skies clear, Anmorluk Kakadu Plums are fat, Garrbada long yam vine creeps up trees, collect and eat goose egg. Violent, windy ‘knock’em down’ storms early in this season flatten the Anbedje spear grass. Best time to fish the “run-off” of the tidal Alligator rivers for big Barramundi!
Yegge May to June Yegge is relatively cool with low humidity. Djimurru strong winds come from the south-east. Early morning mists hang low over the plains and waterholes. The shallow wetlands and billabongs are carpeted with water lilies. Good time to start fishing for Guluybirr Saratoga and Nahgeihtmi Black Bream. Drying winds and flowering Darwin Andjalen woolly butt trees tell Bininj/Mungguy that it is time to start Gunak fire burning the woodlands in patches to ‘clean the country’ and encourage new growth for grazing animals. Dig for Godjong witchetty grub. Ngarradj sulphur crested cockatoo are noisy squawkers in Birriyalang paperbark trees.
Wurrgeng June to August Wurrgeng is the ‘cold weather’ time; humidity is low, daytime temperatures are around 30°C and night-time temperatures are around 15°C. Gunmaiyorrk are easing winds still from south-east. Most creeks stop flowing and the floodplains quickly dry out. Burning continues, extinguished by the dew at night. By day, Ganamarr Red-tail black cockatoo crunch on seeds of eucalypt trees and Nawurrgbil Whistling Kites patrol the fire lines as insects and small animals try to escape the flames. Bamurru Magpie geese are getting fat and heavy after weeks of abundant food, and a myriad of other waterbirds crowd the shrinking billabongs. Anbaandarr turkey bush turns real pink! The best sign of Wurrgeng is big mob Balanda tourists in Kakadu!
Gurrung August to October Gurrung is hot and dry. It is ‘goose season’ but also time for Bininj/Mungguy to hunt Nawandak file snakes and Almangiyi long-necked turtles, buried in hibernation in the muddy floodplains. Gumugen Freshwater crocodiles and Warradjan pig nose turtles lay their eggs on the sandy beach of Djarrajin Billabong and Galawan goannas rob their nests sometimes. Getting hotter and humid, also best time for hunting fat Bamurru magpie geese and collecting Anggung sugarbag wild honey. White-breasted wood swallows arrive as thunderclouds build, signalling the return of Gunumeleng. Ginga Saltwater Crocs are getting goygoy frisky! In the afternoon Mahbilil sea wind blows, time for Kakadu Mahbilil Festival in Jabiru with lot’s of music and bushtucker!
Gunumeleng October to December Gunumeleng is the pre-monsoon season of hot weather that becomes more and more humid. Barrmarrdja winds blow from the west. Thunderstorms build in the afternoons and scattered Undjewg rain showers bring a tinge of green to the dry land. Waterbirds spread out as surface water and new growth become more widespread. Namarngorl Barramundi move from the waterholes downstream to the estuaries to breed. This was when Bininj/Mungguy moved camp from the floodplains up into the stone country, to shelter from the violent storms of the coming wet season. Aljurr (Leichhardt’s Grasshopper) come out after first rain. Time to pick yummy Andudjmi green plums and look for crocodile eggs. Djawok storm bird sings his wailing song in search of a mate. Incredible thunderstorms, Namarrgon comes out of his ‘dreaming’ site in the rock country with big mob lightning!