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Seasons and Sustainability

Aboriginal Peoples’ observation of climate, weather, plants, animals and celestial changes informs the number of seasons in an area as well as the sustainable harvesting of resources in these seasons.

Aunty Lee 

Lee Carr (Flannel flower and Superb fairy wren totems) is a proud Wiradjuri (goanna totem) woman with traditional links to the Bathurst Plains region. Her interests include gardening, traditional weaving and Wiradjuri Language. In her career she has taught in schools from Kindergarten to Year 6 as a classroom and EAL/D teacher and from Year 7 – Year 10 as an English, Science and Aboriginal Languages, Culture and Heritage teacher. She has also taught Aboriginal Language at TAFE. Aunty Lee works as an Aboriginal Educator Officer at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, as a university lecturer, and as a consultant sharing Wiradjuri Language and Aboriginal Culture and Heritage knowledge with students and community members.
The views Aunty Lee shares in these pages are her own. Where she has shared knowledge or described Aboriginal cultural practice other than her own Wiradjuri, which she learnt from her grandfather, other family or community, the appropriate permissions have been sought where possible.

Sydney Golden Wattle and Fishing for mullet
Knowledge source is Lee’s Grandfather, a proud Wiradjuri man and a keen fisherman

Background Knowledge
Students should have a prior understanding of the difference between climate, weather and seasons, recognising that the major difference between weather and climate is time.
Food security is determined by access, availability, appropriate use and stability over time. Australia’s First Peoples employed practices which ensured their food security, including eating seasonally. Emphasis should be on the observational changes in weather and in flora and fauna.

Activity Extensions
Investigate various Indigenous seasonal calendars. Note any similarities and/or differences and make a hypothesis for the effect of location.

Aboriginal Totems and Sustainability
Special carers for special occasions
Each person with a particular plant or animal as their totem is the designated “carer” of that totem with the particular responsibility of ensuring its protection. All Burramattagal people had this responsibility to care for and protect the eel. In the case of the annual feast/celebration a particular individual/ or group would have been designated. They would ensure both overpopulation and depletion of the natural stock were avoided by only taking older male eels and returning the others (young males and all females) to the river unharmed to ensure not only the sustainability of the species but the health of the river ecosystem as well.

You never eat your totem
Note: Even though some sources say Burramattagal would have eaten eels, they were their totem, and as such would not have done so.
●    https://www.parrapark.com.au/assets/Uploads/Burramatta-Lands.pdf
●    https://www.cityofparramatta.nsw.gov.au/living-community/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islanders
●    https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2016/05/02/little-known-history-between-parramatta-and-eels