This post shows you what we did and saw when we weren’t watching the sun rise or set over Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
First, a walk into Walpa Gorge, one of two trails open to the public at Kata Tjuta. (Some locations are closed to the public for conservation reasons or because they are used for significant ceremonies by Anangu male elders.)
The next photos show the conglomerate material from which Kata Tjuta was formed.
Here is the dry bed of a stream which runs after each fall of rain over Kata Tjuta
This last photo was taken from the same spot but in the opposite direction, towards some of the sand dunes which cover much of the national park and make up the oldest system of stable sand dunes in the world.
Later in the same day, we were driven around Uluru to view sites that relate to Anangu creation stories associated with the rock. So, this is an appropriate time to tell you a little about the significance of Uluru to the traditional owners and their community.
First, you might like to see a welcome from one of the traditional owners. It’s here.
Secondly, I was interested to learn that Uluru is not regarded as a sacred site in its own right. However, it is still a sacred place to the Anangu because it is where the four most important creation events occurred, events which the Anangu believe account for some of the key features of the rock. Further explanation of this distinction can be found here.
The creation stories are very powerful but they are also shared openly with a wider public, by way of education. So, our non-Aboriginal driver/guide was at liberty to tell us the stories of Mala, Lungkata and Kuniya and Liru. If you read these stories, ostensibly about how physical features came to be, you will discover that they also provide important lessons as to how Anangu persons should behave as they grow up.
We viewed some of these sites from our tour coach but we did have time to walk to Mutitjulu waterhole, where the fateful battle between Kuniya and Liru took place.
The next group of photos illustrates the variety of rock features. It is not difficult to imagine how they could have inspired creation stories.
Sadly, there is also a destruction story associated with Uluru. Despite the wishes of the traditional owners and the park managers, a significant number of individuals climb the rock each day. They come from Australia and from overseas, with the express intention of doing this, almost as if it is some sort of hunters’ trophy.
Even if you don’t care much about Aboriginal cultural values, there are strong safety and environmental reasons why you should not climb on the rock. You can find out more here, including a downloadable fact sheet.
Happily, climbing on Uluru will be banned from 26 October 2019. Soon enough, would-be climbers will either stay away or, preferably, find adequate reward from all the other ways you can enjoy yourself during a visit to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Our first visit was very short – just two nights and one-and-a-half days – and we have already decided to return, sooner rather than later, perhaps after there has been a good period of rain to bring on a display of native wildflowers.
Also on a happy note, we bought a painting of the night sky from a local Aboriginal artist, pictured here with her bright-eyed daughter.