We spent three days in the red desert, exploring the ancient and sacred aboriginal sites of Uluru (which European settlers named Ayres Rock) and Kata Tjuta – pronounced Ka-ta Chuta (called Mount Olga by settlers).
There are so many things that hit you when you arrive in the dessert, but one of the things that struck us both was the sense of peace. The aborigines talk of the special silence of the place and yes, it does have its own brand of silence. You can also see from the picture above, that it is surprisingly green. There is a lot of bushes and grass growing in the area. It had also had some rain a couple of weeks before our visit and that made everything green up.
The land was taken away from the Aborigines (Also known in their own tongue and Anangu) in the mid 1950’s, as the area held fascination for Australian settlers. But we did not appreciate quite how sacred this place is to the Aborigine people and how sacrilegious this unplanned development and the climbing of these ancient rocks was to them.
It was handed back to the aborigines about 30 years ago and is now held in trust, where both aborigines and modern Australians work together for conservation and planned development. The land holds special significance in aboriginal culture, linked as it is to their stories of creation and their strong beliefs about women, men and the nature all around them.
We had so many magical moments here. We spent three days capturing sunsets and sunrises that brought tears to our eyes. On one of the mornings, our guide Mike played the Didgeridoo whilst the sun came up. It was mesmerising.
The lesser well-known Kata Tjuta is in the same national park. In the Aborigine tongue it means many heads, and you can see from the shape of it, why it is called that.
We took the relatively short walk into Walpa Gorge in the early morning light. It was a deep ravine and surprisingly for the desert area did have some water and a shallow stream inside.
We also visited the field of light. This is an art installation by Bruce Munro which has over 50,000 light stems that light up the land in front of Uluru, during dusk and dawn. We were up and out by 5am to catch the glow of the lights before the sunrise. It’s hard to capture that on camera, so you’ll have to use a big of imagination when you look at the images below.
We went for a short bush walk in the 35c heat. The full circuit of Uluru is 10km, so unless you are a little bit mad, or super charged, you are not likely to try that one in a hurry. We did enjoy visiting the cultural centre and doing a shorter circuit around the base of Uluru.
Little man had to be careful as he did not pack his sunscreen, but he did pop up a couple of times. Can you spot him?