top of page

Theme 5 - The Kulin Seasons

Melbourne is famed for its variable weather of ‘Four Seasons in One Day’. However the Kulin people of the Port Phillip region defined eight seasons, but not just by the weather patterns. What had to be done at each particular time of the year also helped define each season.

These annual seasons were also related to the Aboriginal use of a
28-day lunar month within a 13-month annual calendar. This was however not rigidly fixed as each coming season was preceded
by a sequence of environmental signals in insect, animal and
plant behaviour.


  1. Is it reasonable to spend the heat of summer by the river?

  2. Given the fuel loads that worsened the Australian bush fires last summer, do you think this will lead to more use of ‘mosaic pattern cold-fire burning’?

  3. In the Aboriginal scarred trees you have seen, has the scar usually been on the south-east side?

  4. Do children tend to get born in particular months of the year?

AH 5.1

The eight Aboriginal seasons in Melbourne

An Aboriginal calendar of 13 lunar months is described, with a total of eight seasons, each season having its own defined activities and weather patterns.

AH 5.2

Hot north wind and fix the fishtraps season

In the first two lunar months from the summer solstice, family life is centred near water and with the task of repairing the fishtraps.

AH 5.3

Eel harvest and inter-clan business season

Over the third lunar month from mid-February to mid-March, clans gather to participate in the annual eel harvest, and also conduct their mutual business.

AH 5.4

Thunderstorm and rug-making season     

In a period of late summer electrical storms from mid-March to Mid-April, time is spent converting cured animal pelts into clothing and carry bags.

AH 5.5

Burning-off season

In a rain shadow period from mid-April to mid-May, ritual burning takes place to rid the land of its accumulated fuel, prevent bushfires and promote new growth.

AH 5.6

Cold west wind and artefact making season

During the cold three-month winter period from mid-May to early August, the main activity is in artefact-making and decorating, plus playing games such as marngrook.

AH 5.7

The special month of August

In the early spring period of August, the sap rises in trees and bark can be harvested for canoes. August is also a time when several famous Woiwurrung leaders have died.

AH 5.8

Women’s Business season

The two-month period from early September to the end of October is when all births are planned to occur and female initiations all take place at special locations.

AH 5.9

Men’s Business season

In the final two lunar months of the year up to the summer solstice, male initiations take place at special locations such as Hanging Rock.

bottom of page