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Tiwi Seasons

The Tiwi seasonal calendar has three major seasons and 13 overlapping minor seasons

Kumunupunari - the dry season

Wurringawunari (season of the knock ‘em down storms) - the first part of the dry season when the first dry winds blow in from the south-east and flatten the talk grass and dry up a lot of surface water.

Kimirrakinari (fire season) - sometime later, when the dry grass is burnt.

Pumutingari (season of the wind that flakes skin) - the wind later in the dry season that causes your skin to become dry and flaky.

Cold weather in the middle of the dry season (mid-June to the end of July) is called Yirriwinari and Mirniputari.  It is signalled by the flowering of Wurritjinga (Eucalyptus confertiflora).

Kumwari (season of fog) - when temperatures are low, fogs develop in the morning.

Yartupwari (season of the dry creek bed) - waterholes and creek beds dry up.


Tiyari - the season of hot weather, with high humidity and little rain

Milikitorinari (season of hot feet) - when the ground is very hot and the soles of your feet become hot when you walk. Food gathering is concentrated in the mangroves and jungle patches instead of the dry plains and woodlands.

Later in Tiyari, there are often rakungumpara, cloudy skies, and even turniyuwa, black clouds.

Pumwanyingari (season of thunder) - humidity increases and cumulus clouds develop every afternoon but little rain.

Kurukurari (season of the mangrove worm) - the worms are easy to find and are sweet and filling.

Mumpikari (season of muddy possum tracks) - when first rains fall the possums return to their trees from foraging on the ground at night and leave tell-tale muddy footprints on the trunk of the tree. This makes possum hunting easier.

When Alarpiningwani (Common Koel) calls Jamutakari, the wet season, will soon begin.


Jamutakari - the wet season

Rain, pakitiringa, falls consistently every day and the swamps, creeks and rivers are full. Wunijaka, the north-west wind, blows and brings rain. There is much lightning, pumurali, and thunder with the rain. Japarrika (Greater and Lesser Frigatebirds) near the shore or roosting in the mangroves indicate that a storm or cyclone is approaching.

Tawutawungari (season of the clap sticks) - When Mapulinka (Emerald Dove) calls from the jungles the Kurlama yams are fat and ready to eat, and the Kurlama ceremony is held. Jirringinni (Brahminy Kite) is imitated during the Kurlama ceremony, with dancers painting themselves white and ochre with feathers for decoration.

Wurrijingari (season of the flowers) - towards the end of the wet season.

Muma (Torres Strait Pigeons) leave the Tiwi Islands at the end of Jamatakari after feasting on the red fruit of Jora (Carpentaria acuminata). 

Marrakatari (season when tall grass flowers) - and Wurringawunari (season of the knock ‘em down storms) are short and indicate the end of the wet season. The tall grasses Marakati (Sorghum spp.) produce dark brown seed heads at the end of Jamutakari.

The flowers of Jarrikarli (Acacia auriculiformis and Acacia latescens) and Wupunga (Pseudopogonatherum contortum) signal that Martapaka (Crested Terns) eggs have been laid on small sandy islands and are ready to be collected.