The ancestors of Jawoyn people and Aboriginal people across Australia were some of the earliest scientists in human history.
Their knowledge about the world around them – from plants and animals, to rivers, the sky and the stars – was developed over tens of thousands of years.
This important ecological knowledge traditionally passed down from generation to generation has been captured in a Jawoyn seasons calendar, which was launched during the Nitmiluk Festival in September.
Jawoyn Association chairperson Lisa Mumbin says the calendar is a culmination of the work and information of many Jawoyn elders from the past and the present.
“It’s important that knowledge about country and language are recorded,” Ms Mumbin said.
“Our elders have that knowledge and they’ve helped to map it in a new calendar.
“We worry about the loss of knowledge and culture as our elders pass away and younger people no longer use Jawoyn as a first language – so this is an important step to capturing some of this important knowledge for future generations.
“We want to show others our culture, our language and our seasons.”
Elder Jocelyn McCartney explains that Jawoyn people split the year into five major seasons; Jiyowk, Bangkarrang, Malapparr, Jungalk and Guran.
“On Jawoyn country in September, we are moving from Malapparr into Jungalk, hot dry weather time – the build up,” Ms McCartney said.
“Creeks will stop flowing over the next few months and the billabongs will dry out then the thunderclouds will build high in the sky and Nitmi (Cicadas) will sing-up the rain.
“When they sing loudly, we know the rain is not far away and the country will soon be green again.
“Our children need to understand the environment they live in and this new calendar will help them to connect to country, so when they are out on country with their families, they can look and learn important stories.
“I was taught many things by my parents and elders and now I am teaching my grandchildren so when they grow up, they can teach their children. We need to keep passing on our knowledge.”
Posters of the Jawoyn Seasons calendar are available for sale at the Nitmiluk National Park Visitors Centre and on the Jawoyn website.