TRaCK: Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge

Science and knowledge that governments, communities, industries for sustainable use of Australia's tropical rivers and estuaries

Ngan'gi Seasons Calendar, Nauiyu - Daly River

TitleNgan'gi Seasons Calendar, Nauiyu - Daly River
Publication TypeArtwork
Year of Publication2009
Corporate AuthorsTRaCK,
Date Published05/2009
KeywordsDaly, Nauiyu community, Ngan'gi, seasonal calendar, seasons
Full Text

Representing traditional ecological knowledge – the Ngan’gi seasonal calendar

The Ngan’gi seasonal calendar, developed by CSIRO-based TRaCK researcher, Emma Woodward, and the residents of the Nauiyu community, Daly River, was launched at the Merrepen Arts Festival and Open Day in late May. The calendar, which was developed over 10 months of discussions with community members, represents some of the traditional ecological knowledge of the Nauiyu community. Its development was driven by a community desire to document seasonal-specific knowledge of the Daly River and its wetlands, including the environmental indicators that act as cues for bush tucker collection. The calendar also addresses community concern about the loss of traditional knowledge, as older people from the language group pass away and younger people increasingly using Kriol rather than Ngan’gi as a first language.

The seasonal cycle recorded on the calendar closely follows the cycle of annual speargrass (Sarga spp.), with many of the thriteen seasons identified in the calendar named according to speargrass life stages. For example, the season known as ‘Wurr wirribem dudutyamu’ occurs when speargrass seed heads are swollen and hanging heavily. The term ‘taddo’ refers to the sounds of the seed heads knocking together and starting to open up and indicates that the rainy season is nearing its end.

Nauiyu community leader, Patricia Marrfurra McTaggart, was a key partner in the project, providing both a wealth of information and invaluable linguistic and translating skills in documenting information from senior community members. The calendar was received with great interest and enthusiasm at the Merrepen Arts Festival, which attracted more than 1000 people from across Australia to the Nauiyu community. Indigenous educators at the Festival were particularly interested in the calendar and are keen to integrate the knowledge into their curricula.

This research is part of a three year Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge (TRaCK) funded project on Indigenous socio-economic values and rivers flows in the NT and the Kimberley in WA. Further information: Emma.Woodward@csiro.au