aboriginal art Aboriginal Art Online
Regions and Communities
Aboriginal art
Latest Additions
Aboriginal Art and Artists
Aboriginal Culture
Methods and Materials
Art Regions
    Cape York  
    Other Areas  
    Top End  
Resources and Links
Contact Us

Top End seasonal calendarTop End Seasonal Calendar


Each month we bring you scenes and description from western Arnhem Land or other parts of the Top End of Australia - showing the country, bush food, and other aspects of Aboriginal life. On this page you can visit:

The main photographs and text are by Wayne Miles, an outstanding photographer from Darwin.

September - Baking Heat and Cool Waters in Katherine Gorge

The cool fresh waters of Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park have long served as an oasis for its traditional owners, the Jawoyn tribes. September is the first month in the extreme end of the "Hot Dry Spell" when the days are searingly hot, dry and dusty.

katherine gorge

The sun-parched earth is now sucking the wetlands of its moisture and surface water is becoming preciously scarce. Fuelled by the strong easterly breezes, "fire raging" is now sweeping the land, scorching the red earth. In its wake, a smoke haze filters the evening light to fiery sunsets.

Whilst the untrained eye the stone country now appears arid and lifeless, to the Aboriginal people now is the time of plenty. It's the time of "purifying", the transitional period from the dry to the wet. Animal tracks on sandy banks along hidden gorges leave telltale signs that Rock Wallabies and marsupials are reluctant to leave their water supply. The Aboriginal hunters know that when the Red Flowered Kurrajong is blooming on deadened sticks, animals of the stone country have retreated to the safety of their hollows and rock burrows. Most revert to hunting by night to avoid the blistering heat of the day. This is no deterrent to the skilled hunters now prowling the jagged escarpment, boomerangs and spears ready.

Red Flowered Kurrajong
At this time of year Red Flowered Kurrajong (Brachychiton) is a common flower of the Katherine region, a vermilion dash of brilliance dotting a scape of ochres and black. For the Aboriginal people the bark of the Kurrajong, both red and yellow, is an important source of fibre for weaving.

Strips of the outer bark are pounded to yield a soft fibre that is rolled on the thigh to produce an extremely strong ply bush string or rope. This string is then used in the making of traditional "dillybags", clothing, baskets, ceremonial belts and other artifacts which require fibre fastening. After roasting to remove dangerous irritant hairs, the globular yellow seeds are also eaten.

October - Hot Dry Season on Cobourg Peninsula

Jutting from the Northern Territory's coastline is the Cobourg Peninsula, home of the Gurig National Park. Here the Aboriginal people still retain a strong relationship with the sea, living, hunting and working together harvesting the resources the ocean offers, especially from within the mangrove forests. The entangled forests of the mangrove are considered the nurseries of the sea.


Rich in organic matter, they provide food and shelter for a multitude of marine life, especially crustaceans and fish like the Barramundi. The mangroves are a favoured harvesting ground of the north's saltwater tribes. At this time of year, also known as "Barligarj", fresh water is scarce, the humidity is high and the late fires are still racing through the dry bush lands.

In the mangrove habitats, however, little is affected. Its ecosystem is nourished by the ebb and flow of constantly changing tides which support a rich bounty for those who know when and where to hunt. The Aboriginal people regard the Mud Crab as the best bush tucker of all.
mud crab

woolybutt flowers
The blossoming of the Orange Woolybutt in the tall open woodland forests on the shores nearby indicates now is the best time there is to harvest this most prized crustacean.

Text copyright Wayne Miles 1999

Back to Seasonal calendar entry page

Art & Artists | Land & Cultures
Galleries | Resources | Shop | Services | Home

© Aboriginal Art Online Pty Ltd 2000 (ABN 36 092 463 431) See Terms of Use for details