If you look after the land, the land will look after you.” – Harry Nannup
WA is such an expansive, unique state to live in, blessed with so much diversity, culture and beauty.
Did you know that the state of WA is the second largest country subdivision in the world, after Russia’s Sakha Republic? WA has a total land area of 2,527,013 square km’s (975,685 sq mi). That is over 12 times the size of the whole of Great Britain!
Our state has the longest coastline in Australia spanning 10,194 km’s, with around 3,500 beaches.
WA has 100 National Parks and 17 marine parks with Shark Bay, Purnululu National Park and the Ningaloo Coast classified as World Heritage Properties. WA’s conservation lands and waters (including national parks, marine parks, nature reserves and State forests) cover over more than 31 million hectares (76.6 million acres).
WA has the largest collection of wildflowers in the world with more than 12,000 species of wildflowers, with 60% of these unique to WA. Wildflower season begins in the northern part of WA around June and then moves down to the South West finishing around November.
There are many places to view the stunning array of colours and foliage but whatever you do, to protect and conserve these wildflowers, please stay on the allocated tracks and don’t jump in amongst them for that perfect Instagram shot!
Australia’s Golden Outback provides a great rundown of where and when to see wildflowers at their finest.
Another option to keep track of the wildflower season and where and when they are flowering download Western Australia Visitor Centre’s Wildflower Tracker app – It is a crowd-sourced map-based wildflower report that gives you flower news and updates from across the state, so you can plan your trip accordingly.
Because WA is such a big state we also have a diversity of climates. The states North has tropical conditions with Summer cyclones and rain, desert conditions to the East of the state and our south west’s climate is Mediterranean, with warm summers and cool, wet Winters.
The average annual rainfall in WA is about 880 millimetres (34.6 inches) per year, the majority falling in the cooler months between May to September.
WA’s highest temperature on record was 50.7oC (123.26oF), recorded in Onslow in the Pilbara on 13th January 2022.
You can check what the daily air quality is like in WA.
Indigenous groups of WA
There are many indigenous groups from all over WA. Here are some of the main ones for various regions of WA.
- Garadjeri type: As for Nyangamada. Includes Garadjeri, Mangala, Yaoro, Djungun, Ngombal, Djaberadjabera, and Nyulnyul.
- Bardi type. Patrilineal local descent groups, no moieties or sections. Includes Warwar, Nimanburu, Ongarang, Djaul Djaui.
- Ungarinyin type: Patrilineal. Includes Umedi, Wungemi, Worora, Wunumbul
Noongar is the generic term relating to the original inhabitants of the South-West of Western Australia. The Noongars believe that the landscape, the law and the provision of food and shelter is provided by the ‘deities’.
Noongar people have lived harmoniously with the land and nature, using the natural resources to source food, medicine and shelter and work the land to ensure that this supply continues for survival.
“To be Noongar is to belong; it is to have connection to country (boodja), family (moort), and to knowledge (kaartdijin). To be Noongar is to be a river person, a coastal person or just from the bush. It is to have pride and to survive. We need to celebrate it – the journey.” – Noongarculture.org.au
There are many other
Noongar names for WA towns and regions
Nannup– Noongar origin, meaning either “stopping place” or “place of parrots”
Gidgegannup- Place to make spears
Mundaring– a high place on a high place or a place of the grass tree leaves’.
Meckering– Place of water
Cunderdin- Place of the bandicoot or place of many flowers
Goomalling– Place of possums
Tammin– from ‘Tammar’, a place of the small wallaby
Kellerberrin– ‘Keela’ A large ferocious ant or ‘kalla’ camping ground
Merredin– A place of the Merritt tree
Kings Park lookout– Kaarta Garup- Kaarta = Hill/head and Gar up = water place
Carnac Island/ Ngooloormayup- Place to be frightened of
Rottnest Island– Wadjemup
Swan River/Perth Estuary Waters- Derbarl Yerrigan
Cockburn Sound– Derbal Nara
Canning River– Dyarlgarro Beelya
Willie Wagtail– djiti djiti
Swamp or lake– Binjar/ Pinjar
Rocks or stones– Boya
River- Beeliar/ bilya
Balga tree- balga
Very happy- Djirip Djirip
Hearts/two hearts together– Koort
Good spirit– Kwop wirrin
Mother/ sun- Ngarngk
Here is a beautiful representation of the Noongar seasons done by SERCUL.
Birak (December – January)
The Noongar Season ‘Birak’ symbolises heat, sun and fire.
During Birak season the rain eases off and the warm weather starts to pick up. Thankfully the afternoons are cooled by the sea breezes from the south west.
Traditionally this was the fire season. A relatively predictable pattern of easterly winds in the morning and sea breezes in the afternoon meant that this was the Noongar burning time of the year. They would burn the country in mosaic patterns to reduce the ‘fuel’ of dry wood and grass and make it easier to move across the country. The burning aided seed germination to rehabilitate the area to grow again.
Young birds are venturing out of nests in Birak, though some are still staying close to their parents such as magpies and parrots. Reptiles will also shed their old skin for a new one at this time of the year and baby frogs turn into adult frogs.
Bunuru (February – March)
The Noongar Season ‘Bunuru’ is the hottest time of the year.
Bunuru is the hottest time of the year with little to no rain. Hot easterly morning winds continue with a cooling sea breeze most afternoons, if you’re close to the coast.
Traditionally this was, and still is, a great time for living and fishing by the coast, rivers and estuaries. Because of this, freshwater foods and seafood made up major parts of the Noongar people’s diet during Bunuru.
Bunuru is also a time of the white flowers with lots of white flowering gums in full bloom, including jarrah, marri and ghost gums.
Djeran (April – May)
The Noongar Season ‘Djeran’ is the time of the year when the cooler weather begins.
Djeran season is a relief from the really hot weather. Cool nights with a dewy presence in the early mornings is a sign of Djeran.
The winds will also change, especially in their intensity, with light breezes generally swinging from southerly directions. Many flying ants can be seen cruising around in the light winds.
Djeran is a time of red flowers, especially from the red flowering gum (Corymbiaficifolia), as well as the smaller and more petite flowers of the summer flame (Beaufortia aestiva).
Banksias start to display their flowers, ensuring that there are nectar food sources for the many small mammals and birds that rely upon them.
Traditionally, foods at this time of year included the zamia seeds that had been collected and stored for treatment during the previous season.
The root bulbs of the yanget (Bullrushes), fresh water fish, frogs and turtles were also common foods.
As the season progresses, the nights become cooler and damp. This was a time when the traditional mia mias (houses or shelters) were repaired and updated to make sure they were waterproofed and facing in the right direction in readiness for the deep wintery months to come.
Makuru (June – July)
The Noongar Season ‘Makuru’ represents the time of rain and cold weather.
Makuru sees the coldest and wettest time of the year in the South West. Traditionally, this was when they would move back inland from the coast as the winds turned to the west and south bringing the cold weather, wind, rains and occasionally snow on the peaks of the Stirling and Porongurup Ranges.
As the waterways and catchments started to fill, people were able to move about their country with ease and their food sources changed from the sea, estuarine and lake foods to those of the land, in particular the grazing animals such as the kangaroo.
As well as a food source, animals provided people with many other things. For example, the ‘yongar’ or kangaroo, not only provided meat but also ‘bookas’ (animal skin cloaks that were used as the nights became much cooler). Even the bones and sinews were used in the making of bookas and hunting tools such as spears. Nothing was left.
Makuru is also a time for a lot of animals to be pairing up and making nests in preparation for breeding in the coming season.
Purple and blue flowers will start to come out.
As the season comes to a close the blue and purple flowers start to make way for the white and cream flowers of Djilba, such as the white flowers of the weeping peppermint (Agonis flexuosa).
Djilba (August – September)
The Noongar Season ‘Djilba’ symbolises growth of wildflowers and plants.
This is the start of the wonderful wildflower explosion that happens in the South West. Beginning with the yellow flowering plants such as the acacias.
Djilba is a mix of some very cold and clear days combining with warmer, rainy and windy days mix.
Traditionally, the main food sources included many of the land-based grazing animals including the yongar (kangaroo), the waitj (emu) and the koomal (possum).
As the days start to warm up the first of the newborn animals will be seen and heard with their parents out and about teaching them how to forage for food and protect themselves from prey.
This is swooping season for the woodland birds such as the koolbardi (magpie) and djidi djidi (willy agtail) as their young are still in their nests.
As the temperatures rise, the flower stalks of the balgas (Grass Trees) start to emerge.
Kambarang (October – November)
The Noongar Season ‘Kambarang’ is the return of the hot weather.
During Kambarang season you will notice an abundance of colourful flowers around.
The yellows of many of the acacias and the flowering balgas. There will also be some banksias, kangaroo paw and orchids and the bright orange flowering ‘moojar’ (Australian Christmas Tree). When this appears this was a sign to the people that the heat is on its way.
Snakes are awakening from their hibernation and are out looking for heat and food.
Young birds can be heard singing to their parents to feed them. Koolbardies (magpies) will be out protecting their nests and their babies.
We acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the original custodians of this country, and recognise their connection to the land, waters, sky and community. We extend our respect to their culture and their Elders, past and present. Today, with mutual respect and understanding, we acknowledge the past and its differences and now look forward to working together to build strong relations and connection.
We offer our heartfelt gratitude to the Whadjuk Noongar community and to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout Western Australia who continue to care for Country (boodja) and share their knowledge (kaartdijin).
This generosity and wisdom helps us to understand, navigate and protect Country safely and respectfully for now and the future.