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Calendars celebrate Indigenous weather knowledge

Wednesday January 2, 2013 - 12:52 EDT
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The project coordinator Emma Woodward with Mervyn Street, June Davis and Helen Malo and the Gooniyandi seasonal calendar. - ABC

The CSIRO has captured the detailed knowledge Aboriginal people have of Top End weather patterns in a series of calendars.

A Darwin-based team spent months working with language groups in the Kimberley to document the environmental indicators they use to predict weather.

Most Indigenous groups have their own names for between four and thirteen seasons a year, that are based on observed changes in things like water temperature, cloud formations and the presence of different insects and fish.

The Project Co-ordinator Emma Woodward says there is a huge amount of untapped information in Indigenous communities of the north.

"The seasons are very different to our own that are observed," she said.

"They don't follow the average Gregorian calendar that we follow.

"The attention to detail around meteorological observations, so the direction the wind's coming from, how strong the winds are, the cloud's that are in the sky.

"It's really amazing and there's certainly a lot of weather scientists and others to see what they can learn from it as well."

Gooniyandi elder June Davis was one of those who shared her knowledge to create a calendar relevant to the Fitzroy Valley area,

"We don't have Jan to December there, it's just our way of life, and our cycles and it's the way our ancestors lived," she said.

"I was lucky to have to elderly people with me so I could learn a lot from them."


© ABC 2013

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