Autumn is coming to a close here in Melbourne and I’ve been sharing the signs of the season with Miss Z, my now 4 year old.
We have the typical signs like in other temperate zones of the world, such as the harvest, cooler weather, trees losing their leaves, shorter days and the equinox. It’s fascinating to dig deeper to find our own cultural signs of the season reflecting nature in Australia.
The Bureau of Meteorology website has a section for indigenous weather knowledge. The closest calendar for Melbourne is the Gariwerd calendar from the Halls Gap region, and the Herring Island website has a useful visual wheel of the calendar.
We learn from these (if not our own local observations over the years) that Melbourne is better represented by 6 seasons, not 4. We start the year with:
- Late Summer, then move to
- Autumn or Early Winter, then
- Winter or Deep Winter,
- Spring, and finish with
- Early Summer
I like that the calendar tells us what our flora and fauna are doing during the different seasons, such as the eels are fat and ready for harvest in Late Summer, wombats are active in Autumn, birds are nesting in Pre-Spring, and tadpoles are growing in Spring. It makes me want to find spots to show Miss Z where to see these signs, and that led me to investigating eels in Victoria. What I found was an ancient history of eel farming going back 8,000 years in Lake Condah in south west Victoria. This video tells an amazing story about a 10,000 strong community based on the eel industry:
Unfortunately the area was drained in the 1800s so we wouldn’t be looking at a day trip to see the eel farm there, but the Gunditjmara people aim to restore the natural abundance of the lake and its native plants and animals, and that would be a wonder for future generations.
Signs of wombats are easier to find, and in fact I was able to show Miss Z wombat holes when we went to Kinglake Raspberries in January 2015 and had to navigate wombat holes crossing the rows of raspberries. We weren’t expecting that!
What about you? What signs do you look forward to with each season? Have you found a First Nations connection with seasons and your landscape?