I was doing a little bit of random google searching this morning and happened to stumble across the Bureau of Meteorology‘s Indigenous Weather Knowledge project.

This project is only in its initial stages (last updated January 19) and only has four languages represented – Wardaman, Jawoyn, Yanyuwan and Walabunnba. Each season name links to a page with a description of that time of year, detailing the weather, the environmental effects and even the typical foods available at the time. Jawoyn is an exception here, it is very light on information; it gives just the names of the seasons and a rough description, like September-October, Worrwopmi: Early build-up, Hot and sticky.

The pages for the Wardaman seasons are full of cultural knowledge like which animals are ready to eat and when, and how to know where to dig for yams. I especially like this part of the description of Ngurruwun¹, hot weather time (build-up season from September to December):

The appearance of March flies in September or October indicates the end of the dry season and beginning of the buildup. When they start biting it also indicates that freshwater crocodiles are laying their eggs.

Hopefully a lot more language owners will allow their traditional knowledge to be published in this manner, provided it isn’t restricted material, but as one of the Walabunnba informants points out:

Knowledge about the weather is not secret business. You don’t have to be a traditional owner of country to speak about the weather – it is the same as your culture: just everyday knowledge.

¹The Wagiman term for the corresponding season is lajadilk, but the term for ‘sun’ is ngurrun. I suspect the Wardaman season ngurruwun is related to this.