Seasons in the Top End of the Northern
Territory are generally
known as the wet and the dry.
Aboriginal people of this region recognise more than just
two seasons. Their seasonal calendar plays
a very important role in traditional life.
A Top End Wetland
Lush plant life and
lots and lots of water. This wetland is in Kakadu, at the
end of the wet season. Photo by G Crane.
Between October and April warm, moist monsoonal northwest
winds bring high humidity and a
rainfall which gives the
its name. Darwin can
receive more than 1500 mm
of rain in a single wet season.
October and November are the transition months and are often referred
to as the 'build up' because a lot of moisture builds up in the
air making it feel very hot and heavy. Generally in the build up
months it does not actually rain.
Between May and September low humidity and rainfall brought on
by dry southeast winds create the dry season.
During the dry season many waterholes and creeks dry up completely,
and grasslands turn brown. Bushfires are common in the Top End
in the dry. These fires are often started by Aboriginal people,
continuing a practice going back many thousands of years to manage
the fuel load on the land (to try to prevent really big fires)
and to drive animals so they can be caught for food.
The yearly weather cycle is more than wet and dry, and includes
the 'build up', a period before the wet season that brings high
humidity and clouds but no rain. The build up usually starts in
October and runs into December, until the rain starts to fall.