From Waring to Guling – the seasons of the Merri Creek

From Waring to Guling – the seasons of the Merri Creek

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When you go to the Merri Creek at this time of year, what changes do you notice in the environment?

Muddy banks and the high, gushing waters? Moss and mushrooms sprouting between the rocks? The early signs of silver wattle flowers sprouting in the leaves?

The four-season calendar of Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring has never really suited Melbourne’s variable climate.

That’s because the Wurundjeri people, like other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples, have their own seasonal markers, based on changes in the landscape.

These changes might be the types of animals they hunted, the flowers and plants they harvested or changes in the stars and weather.

As part of the Merri Creek project, our children have been fortunate enough to learn some of these seasonal markers from Uncle Dave Wandin.

“I think we should start saying the Aboriginal seasons instead of the European seasons” – Yuna, 1/2D

Right now, according to the Western calendar, it’s mid-winter. How depressing! But if you look closely, you’ll notice that already the silver wattle trees are beginning to flower – and soon magpies will be sharpening their beaks ready to swoop…

According to the Wurundjeri calendar of seven seasons, we’re now in a time of transition between Waring and Guling seasons.

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Waring season is the coldest and wettest season, with misty mornings, high rainfall and low temperatures. At this time of year Waring, or wombats, could be seen foraging about in the sunshine.

 After the rain, the rain moth emerges after living underground for years as a grub eating tree’s roots. Last term our Grade 1/2s found these rain moth casings and tunnels next to trees.

Now, as we enter term 3, we’re entering a new season called Guling, or orchid. The cold weather will start to ease and you’ll see orchids and silver wattle blooming.

Here are the seven seasons of the Kulin calendar according to Museum Victoria:

Biderap (Dry season)
Hot and dry weather, low rainfall.
Tussock grass is long and dry.
Southern Cross high in the south at sunrise.
Female common brown butterflies flying.

Iuk (Eel) season
Cooler temps.
Eels are fat and ready to harvest.
Manna Gum is flowering
Days and nights equal length.

Waring (wombat)
Misty mornings and cold, rainy days.
Days are short and nights are long
Wombats seen during day seeking sunshine.
Moth and fungi by the creek

Guling (orchid)
Cold weather eases.
Wattle and orchids blooming
Common brown butterfly caterpillars feed at night
Males koalas bellow at night

Poorneet (tadpole)
Temps rise but rain continues.
Pied currawongs calling
Yam daisies flowering.
Days and nights are of equal length.

Buath Garru (Grass flowering)
Weather is warm and rainy
Kangaroo grass flowers
Bats catch insects in flight
Male Common Brown Butterflies flying

Gunyang (Kangaroo-Apple Season)
Changeable, thundery weather.
Goannas are active
Kangaroo-apple fruit appears.
Longer days, shorter nights.

While we might not be lucky enough to see wombats ambling about in the morning sun any more, or hear koalas bellowing at night, how many of these other seasonal markers can you recognise if you keep your eyes and ears peeled?

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