Seasons

For Bininj there are six seasons as the world turns. For here, Balanda have broadly thought of two, wet and dry.

Gudjewg

Gudjewg is the monsoon season, from December to March. It is hot wet and humid. It is a time for barra – the rain from the north-west with thunder, lightening, sheets of rain, high-water and flooding. This is the season of increase, when animal and plant life propagates with great intensity. Animals move away from the swelling rivers and the rising water on the plains. Galawan - goannas, rodents and snakes get into the trees and crocodiles can travel far from the dry season water courses. Marsupials move during the day. Anbedjer, the spear grass, grows taller than a man, over two metres. Barmuru, the magpie geese, are nesting. Plentiful eggs and stranded animals make for easy hunting. For Bininj, it is a season for meat and eggs.

Banggerreng

Banggerreng is the knock 'em down storm season in April and it is harvest time. Nagul, the knock-em-downs winds are strong and the storms flatten anbedjer the spear grass. While the winds from the south-east are called djimurru. But  at this time the skies become open and the rain clouds disperse. The great sheets of water recede from the floodplains and the creeks start to run clear. Plants are fruiting and animals tend their young. It is still a season for meat and eggs. It is also the time for the unrestriced burning of country. This is an obligation, it is the law.

Yegge

Yegge is still humid but the atmosphere is lighter and it is cooler. This period is from May to the middle of June and the burning season continues. Early morning mists hang low over the plains and waterholes. The shallow wetlands and billabongs are carpeted with water lilies. Drying winds and flowering Darwin woolly butt tell Bininj that it is time to start burning the woodlands in patches to clean the country and encourage new growth for the grazing animals. Anggung (sugar bag) Anbaarderre (nuts) Godjohn (witchetty grubs) and Galawan (goanna) are easily found. Seeds are the staple food this season.

Wurrgeng

Wurrgeng is the coolest and dryest season, from mid-June to mid-August. The humidity is low with the temperature is around 30°C during the day and 16°C at night. The creeks have stopped flowing and the floodplains have dried out. In this season the light winds are from the south-east are called gunmaiyorrk. It is still burning season, to renew the grasses and other plants with many small cool fires. Birds of prey, kites and hawks, hover above the fire-lines, attracted to the insects and small animals that emerge into the open or rise to flee the heat. Barmuru, magpie geese, grow fat and are good hunting. Migratory birds and other waterbirds assemble at the shrinking billabongs. Stranded crocodiles are now sometimes found out on the floodplain, trapped in the drying mud, unable to get back to the waterways. Bininj gather food; Garrbada or Angindjek (yams) Maadjakalang (waterlillies) or Anjundum (root) for dying pandanus to make bags. Seeds are the staple food.

Gurrung

Gurrung is the time of hot dry weather from mid-August to mid-October. It is still goose-time for Bininj. Toward the end of the season the geese are laying eggs. Whirly whirlies - nardjulum - are common. Mabilil the salt water wind comes up in the evenings. Gurrung is not a season for burning. Bininj hunt for file snakes and Ngardehwoh (turtles) and Almangiyi (long-necked turtles). White-breasted wood swallows arrive. Steepling thunderclouds build high in the sky, signalling the return of Gunumeleng. Yams provide the staple diet.

Gunumeleng

Gunumeleng is the storm season that precedes the return of the monsoon. Burning resumes but is conducted with great caution. The fire is dangerous, respected and feared as lightening strikes ignite the plains. The season lasts from mid-October to late December depending on how soon the torrential rains come. The air becomes more and more humid and stifling. Thunderheads build in the afternoons and showers, when they come, bring rapid growth. The wind barmarrdja starts to blow from the east. The land turns green again. The streams flow but fish may perish in billabongs as the water, naturally slightly acidic at this time, may still have low levels of oxygen. Waterbirds spread across the floodplains as the surface water returns. Barramundi travel to the estuaries to breed. Traditionally Bininj will move camp from the floodplains to the protection of the stone country finding shelter from the storm. Then Gudjewg arrives again and lightening cracks the sky. This is a difficult season. Then then season of eating yams will pass and give way again to the richer season of Gudjewg which brings meat and eggs to the hearth.