About our weather

2013-10-03 05.45.41Darwin is in a unique position on the Australian continent.

As the last Capital City to be formalised, the Port of Darwin had, for many years been a stop over for sailing boats as they visited the Spice Islands.  The Winds, a natural phenomenon of this region bought “visitors” from many lands to our shore seeking the elusive Sea Cucumber (Bech de Mer)  desired by the Macassan or Portugese traders.  Recent Space exploration identified the location of carbon deposits from the fires used to dry the sea cucumbers between the prows in dry dock on the Territory coastline during the Bech de mer collection season.

To many residents and visitors alike, we often only “see” two seasons not the traditional four – Summer – Autumn become the Dry (Gold)  Season while Winter – Spring becomes the Wet (Green)  Season.   However once you get to know more about the local Aboriginal traditions you find there are many more seasons – each with a distinctive and specific description.

On Groote Eylandt, you hear comments about the Marika Winds,  on the Tiwi Islands you’ll hear about Hector who arrives at the same time each afternoon during the rainy (monsoon) season and the Larrakia…………….

– long ago the Larrakia people identified six seasons.

December to March, Gudjewg  the real monsoons burst across the land bringing heat, humidity and wild weather – all this activity generates an explosion of plant and animal life, thunderstorms, with fantastic lightning displays roll around the sky and you can even stand outside and enjoy the WARM yes WARM rain.  Plants grow fast and Spear Grass shoots up to over 2m high.  But be wary the torrential rain can go on for days causing flooding of roads and low laying areas so driver be ware and take care.  This is a time of quick growth for grasses and creepers and native animals.

April sees the last burst of power from the rain with the Knock em down rains  Banggerreng : Windy storms flatten spear grasses on the plains and along roadsides, the rain clouds disperse, clear skies prevail and floodwaters begin to recede.  Waterfalls cascade off the escarpments and down onto the flat plains.

May to June while the weather is generally cooler less humid and wet, the new season    Yegge : is welcomed by swarms of Dragon flies announcing the “official” start of the  Dry season.  Cooler temperatures, and early morning mists roll up the rivers until the sun gets up and drives the mist away.  The new growth dies off, traditional burning of the country begins – following processes handed down through the years,  the aim of cross patch burning  is to ensure we do not have uncontrollable wild fires throughout the next year.  The fires are necessary as many of the seeds dropped by plants during the Wet need heat from a fire to germinate the seeds to continue the cycle of growth and regeneration.

Mid June to Mid August –  Wurrgeng our cold weather with overnight temperatures dropping to around 17 degrees Celcius. the Dry, mild days and nights, little or no rain, beautiful weather.  The burning is in full swing with flocks of local Birds of Prey patrolling the burn lines in search of an easy meal.

August to October is often called the start of the Build Up – Hot dry weather is called  Gurrung : temperatures rise and the water slowly shrinks in the billabongs – birds, lizards, snakes and animals search for the deepest water holes as they prepare for this next phase.  Turtles come ashore to lay their eggs while showers start to green the land.  Towards the end of October  new baby birds take flight.  Water lillies dormant through the Dry sprout and send their flowers to the sun.

Starting in October and going into December is the Pre-monsoon storm season Gunumeleng : Hot weather and building thunderstorms in the afternoons (hence the term the “build up” ) combine to quickly green the otherwise dry landscape.  The rain washed the dust from the trees encouraging new growth.  Waterbirds and other animals slowly move out to eat the new shoots and drink from the new water pools.  Dry creeks and empty waterholes fill as the land fills with the new rains.

So Green,  Gold or Inbetween season, be prepared for your adventure to the Top  End to include the opportunity to experience some of the variations of the weather for yourself.

For more about the Seasons of Kakadu visit http://www.parksaustralia.gov.au/kakadu/people/seasons.html