Traditional Seasonal Calendars
In additional to the calendar year, the four seasons, and the typically known “wet” and “dry” seasons on Cape York, there are a number of traditional seasonal calendars. Several seasons are distinguished by natural cycles, including weather patterns, plant growth, bird, fish, reptile and other animal behaviour. Although the seasons are associated with calendar months, in reality this is not always the case.
Wik-Mungkan Seasonal Calendar
- Kaap: the sun can disappear for weeks as heavy rains fall and mildew flourishes inside houses.
- Onchan wayath (or onchan many): Dragonflies and butterflies abound and fish like Mangrove Jacks are easy to catch.
- Onchan min: Messmate trees are blooming now and show that sugar bag honey is ready to collect.
- Kayaman maal: Soft Nonda Plum fruits are tasty at this time.
- Kayaman pung nganth ling-ling: As the swamps dry out, freshwater turtles are easier to find and water lily bulbs can be dug out.
- Thurpak: Hot and humid weather heralds the gathering of Magpie Geese in the swamps and flying ants emerge at night to mass around lights.
- Um kaapak: Evening thunderstorms bring relief and high tides wash over the marine plains and mangroves.
Thanikwithi Seasonal Calendar
- Prul kun njin: A time of heavy rain, westerly winds and flooring rivers.
- Alan payn: The long grasses are bending with heavy seeds and brilliant lightning flashes of the last storms herald the wet’s end.
- Tharang: Grasses turn brown and annual burning-off commences. The weather is cooler now, so all the politicians arrive for their “fact-finding” tours.
- Ngwor mbor njan: The south-easterlies stir up dust while smoke from bush fires hangs heavily. Beautiful sunsets are a feature of this time and locals enjoy the fine camping weather.
- Aghay: The late dry is the “silly season” when the ground is parched, the air hot and humid. When the first storms break, the land is transformed as green vines run wild and mosquitoes bite fiercely.
Introduction to the Western Cape Communities
People of the Western Cape region live in communities, on pastoral properties, and at national park and roadhouse settlements. Aurukun, Mapoon and Napranum communities have grown from former Presbyterian Missions established on traditional lands, while Weipa township accommodates Rio Tinto’s mining workforce, contractors and regional government offices.
Aurukun community, its outstations and surrounding lands are home to the Wik and Wik-Waya people who speak one or more Wik languages of their traditional lands. Wik-Mungkan is the main language spoken, while English is the Aurukun residents’ second or third language. More than 1,300 people live in the Aurukun Shire.
Home of the Tjungundji, Warranggu, Taepadhighi and Yupungathi people, as well as people with historical ties to the former Presbyterian Mission, Mapoon was closed by the Queensland Government in 1963 against the advice and wishes of the community. Most people were relocated to New Mapoon near Bamaga. Former residents worked tirelessly to re-establish Mapoon in the 1970s and 1980s. The community is thriving again, the population is about 200 and increasing as former residents return to their homeland.
Napranum (meaning meeting place of the people) was the site of the Weipa Presbyterian Mission from 1932 to 1965. Today over 1,000 people live at Napranum.
Weipa has a township, with a population of about 2,500, includes the suburbs of Rocky Point, Trunding, Nanum and Evans Landing. Weipa derives its name from the original mission station. Developed to accommodate Rio Tinto’s workforce, Weipa North township construction commenced at Kumrumja (Rocky Point) in 1965. Trunding and Nanum were built later on rehabilitated mine areas. Although Rio Tinto controls the town area under the provisions of the Commonwealth Aluminium Corporation Pty Ltd Agreement Act, day to day administration is performed by a town management team. Policy is on town facilities, rates and other features is set by a Town Committee which includes four elected representatives, one appointed by the Alngith Traditional Owners and two by Rio Tinto.