Sprinter and Sprummer

Australia’s Changing Seasons

September 2014
More details
  • Publisher
    CSIRO Publishing
  • Published
    5th September 2014
  • ISBN 9781486302031
  • Language English
  • Pages 184 pp.
  • Size 5.125" x 7.875"
  • Images 15 illus & 18 maps

Sprinter and Sprummer challenges the traditional four seasons, and encourages us to think about how we view changes in our natural world.

Since 1788, Australia has carried the yoke of four European seasons that make no sense in most parts of the country. We may like them for historical or cultural reasons, or because they are the same throughout the world, but they tell us nothing of our natural environment. It's time to reject those seasons and to adopt a system that brings us more in tune with our plants and animals—a system that helps us to notice and respond to climate change.

Using examples from his 25 years working in botanic gardens, author Timothy Entwisle illustrates how our natural world really responds to seasonal changes in temperature, rainfall and daylight, and why it would be better to divide up the year based on what Australian plants do rather than ancient rites of the Northern Hemisphere.

Sprinter and Sprummer opens with the origins and theory of the traditional seasonal system and goes on to review the Aboriginal seasonal classifications used across Australia. Entwisle then proposes a new five-season approach, explaining the characteristics of each season, along with the biological changes that define them. The book uses seasons to describe the fascinating triggers in the life of a plant (and plant-like creatures), using charismatic flora such as carnivorous plants, the Wollemi Pine and orchids, as well as often overlooked organisms such as fungi. The final chapter considers climate change and how the seasons are shifting whether we like it or not.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will assist the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne to advance the knowledge, conservation and enjoyment of plants.

List of illustrations

1. The Vivaldi option
The seasons we had to have
The Earth, spinning like a top
A quick seasonal tour of the world
Seasons of the sun
Opinions divided on the need for seasonal change

2. Knock'em down storm and other Indigenous seasons
From west to north – two to six Australian seasons
Spotlight on Sydney seasons
The south-east – anything from three to seven seasons

3. Five very Australian seasons
If it ain't broke, why fix it?
Seasonal rumblings in the motherland
Why I'm right

4. Sprinter, the early spring: August and September
Celebrating the start of spring
Wattle Day on the wrong day
Flowery sprinter
Animals spring to life in sprinter
Sprinter, come rain or shine
Sprinter by any other name
Botanising in sprinter
Think global, act local

5. Sprummer, the cranky one: October and November
Biological cycles
Sprummer is cranky in London too
What to do about the mountains
Sprummer, the Australian fall?

6. The long hot summer: December to March
Fruit in summer and other seasons
Life and death in summer
The endless summer
An English summer, if you're lucky
Plants on fire
Plant survivors

7. Autumn's fat spiders and fungi: April and May
Stocking up for winter
The fungal season
Changeable weather
Autumnal colour

8. Wakeful winter: June and July
Budding up
Chilled out
A weedy history
Night-time is party-time for some
The winter that isn't

9. Changing seasons
The inexorable creep of spring
Australia's changing seasons
Say it with flowers
Ready for change


Timothy J. Entwisle

Timothy J. Entwisle is a highly respected scientist and scientific communicator with a broad interest in plants, science and gardens. He was Director of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens for eight years, spent two years at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew then returned to Australia in 2013 and is currently Director and Chief Executive of Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.