This second post about our recent journey through the centre of Australia introduces you to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, one of the most iconic locations in Australia.
Let me begin by saying that it is very difficult to convey anything like the majestic physicality and enchanting spirituality of Uluru and Kata Tjuta through images shot by amateur photographers using smart phones. But I will do my best and I will supplement the images with words and some links to specific information.
Fifty years ago, when Maggie and I were nearing the end of our high school years, the vast majority of Australians called these two sites by the names given to them by European explorers in the mid-19th century: Ayers Rock and The Olgas.
However, our country’s relationship with the two sites has undergone significant change since 1985, when the traditional Aboriginal owners were given title to this area, then leased the national park portion of their land back to the national government and entered into a joint management arrangement for the park. (In 1977, it had been renamed according to the local Aboriginal language. Ayers Rock reverted to Uluru and The Olgas to Kata Tjuta.)
Over the last 30 years, I have interacted with numerous Aboriginal Australians, socially or through work. No other aspect of the life of my country matters more to me than remediation of the profound impacts of Europeanisation of our continent on the well-being of the peoples who have lived here for as long as 80,000 years. So, I am very happy that most Australians know what I am referring to when I say that I have been to Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
But I digress! Let me tell you some basic facts. At its highest point, Uluru is 348 metres above the ground and its circumference is 9.4km. The highest of Kata Tjuta’s 36 domes is 546 metres above the ground. The geological history of how they each came to be formed as we see them today is very interesting. You can read about it here.
One of the favoured activities when visiting the park is to view one of the formations at sunset or sunrise, or both!
We began with sunset at Kata Tjuta.
We were up very early the next morning to watch the sunrise over Uluru, with Kata Tjuta in the background to the north-west of ‘The Rock’, its affectionate nickname.
The rays of the rising sun lit up Kata Tjuta in colours that reminded us of some of the works of Albert Namatjira, a justly-famous Aboriginal painter.
Later the same day, we were taken to a viewing area on the northern side of Uluru for the sunset, one of the most photographed sights in Australia.
In my next post, I will show you some finer details of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta and tell you a little about what they mean to the Aṉangu, the local Aboriginal people.