I booked my tickets and the trip was planned and finally we all left home ( Suzie, Uncle Tom and me) to go on a journey of promise. This was a place I had wanted to visit since I was a little child. I had been fascinated by this place well before I knew it as the name Uluru. In the time I when I went to school in Australia it was known only as Ayers Rock. This still stirs emotions in people regarding the name change. Some in this country are not in favor of the name change. I am in favor of this name Uluru being known by the world and rightfully so.
This place is spectacular. I was eerily captivated by the site I was greeted with when I stepped out on to the tarmac of Connellan Airport just outside of the township of Yulara. The air was dry and the lay of the land was really flat. No huge trees visible like back at home on the east coast where some trees are just gigantic. The desert Oaks were everywhere but they were not large in statue. These trees pictured above felt like people (ancestral spirits) watching over me the entire time I was in Central Australia.
All of this paled in significance to the huge monolith lurking on the horizon away over behind the airport. It was a sight for sore eyes and it made my heart race like a Holden at the V8 Super Cars. I was almost moved to tears but I was quickly brought back to earth by the Airport Steward who hurried me out of my dreamy state I had dropped into so easily at the sight of Uluru.
I was finally here. Pinching myself I walked off into the flight lounge and found my luggage staggered breathless to the shuttle bus taking us to the resort. I could see Uluru the entire trip over to the resort.
Why did I go?
Going to the rock for me was a journey of looking for clues and answers to the many questions I was holding and I felt that by going here these would somehow manifest in some way. I was here with an expectant heart. I felt this was the only requirement and I was ready. Uncle Tom was a treat to have on the journey with me as I witnessed the absolute joy he felt in seeing Uluru and the lands surrounding the rock. We were all amazed at the contrasts before our eyes. The earth was the prettiest red colour and the sky was the bluest blue. The Spinifex grasses looked like they were waving as we drove by them. Then there was the desert gums with trunks whiter than the lady bowlers uniforms at the local green. It was truly breathtakingly beautiful.
I had booked myself into the bus out to the walk around the rock. Our bus driver was a beauty and it was evident that he was in favor of the culture at the rock. He did such a fantastic job of talking everyone out of the famous Rock Climb experience. The Anagnu people are presently seeking to have this practice completely outlawed altogether. I hope this is addressed soon.
The Dreaming stories
The place is sacred to these people. The dreaming stories or “Tjukurpa” the Anangu ceremonies are intimately entwined into Uluru. The huge sandstone rock is evidence to them that “The Dreaming” is a sacred era in which ancestral Totemic Spirit Beings formed The Creation.
This dreaming story tells of two tribes of ancestral spirits who were invited to a feast, but were distracted by the beautiful Sleepy Lizard Women and did not show up. In response, the angry hosts sang evil into a mud sculpture that came to life as the dingo. There followed a great battle, which ended in the deaths of the leaders of both tribes. The earth itself rose up in grief at the bloodshed, becoming Uluru.
The Commwealth Department of Environment’s webpage advises:
“Many .. Tjukurpa such as Kalaya (Emu), Liru (poisonous snake), Lungkata (blue tongue lizard), Luunpa (kingfisher) and Tjintir-tjintirpa (willie wagtail) travel through Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Other Tjukurpa affect only one specific area.
“Kuniya, the woman python, lived in the rocks at Uluru where she fought the Liru, the poisonous snake.”
It is frequently reported that anyone who pilfers rocks from the formation will be cursed and suffer some amount of misfortune. Some of the people who removed such rocks attempted to mail them back to Uluru or the resort in a vain attempt to remove the curse. At the cultural centre at the rock itself this is taken very seriously and because there has been so many of these returns there is now a book called the “Sorry” book which contains letters from people begging to have these curses removed and their understanding now of what was originally asked of them ( not to take any).
What is Uluru?
From a geological and less spiritual aspect, Ayers Rock is a large sandstone rock formation in central Australia, in the Northern Territory. It is located in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, 350 km southwest of Alice Springs at 25 degrees 20′ 41″ S 131 degrees 01′ 57″ E. It is the second-largest monolith in the world (after Mount Augustus, also in Australia), more than 318 m (986 ft) high and 8 km (5 miles) around. It also extends 2.5 km (1.5 miles) into the ground.
Uluru is an inselberg, literally “island mountain”, an isolated remnant left after the slow erosion of an original
mountain range. Uluru is also often referred to as a monolith, although this is a somewhat an ambiguous term because of its multiple meanings, and thus a word generally avoided by geologists. The remarkable feature of Uluru is its homogeneity and lack of jointing and parting at bedding surfaces, leading to the lack of development of scree slopes and soil. These characteristics led to its survival, while the surrounding rocks were eroded. For the purpose of mapping and describing the geological history of the area, geologists refer to the rock strata making up Uluru as the Mutitjulu Arkose, and it is one of many sedimentary formations filling the Amadeus Basin. (http://www.crystalinks.com/dreamtime.html)
Rock Art messages
The rock drawings fascinated me. The first sight of these made my heart jump as well. This one above shows me a set of spirals. The spirals and number of the spirals are seven. The seven sisters and the chakra’s in our body also number seven and look so much like this in a lot of depictions. In other hermetic wisdom the stars of the seven sisters align with the chakra’s and provide certain energy . As above so below is what keeps coming up for me each time.
The Anangu only tell us a little and the rest is kept secret. If they divulge the secrets the energy will leave and so it is paramount to keep this secret. There are many signs already visible enough without knowing their intimate knowledge to give credence to their belief systems and to honour them with the highest possible respect. After all this is where it all began. I loved how when Vince Forrester told me the stories. He drew them all in the red dust of the earth at our feet. I was so enthralled with all of this that I never even took any photographs of it. I am a little disappointed, but really I felt it was something I didn’t have the want to photograph. I just didn’t want to because the stories and the moment seemed almost too special really.
Meeting Vincent was a pleasure. What a lovely man and a strong man. I listened intently to everything he said. I was in the Yulara IGA later on after our initial meeting and I felt his presence in the form of singing in my head. Then at the checkout he tapped me on the shoulder and said, “So you like hip-hop hey?” I smiled and told him enthusiastically that I write rap. He was suitably impressed I am sure, as he realized I was no spring chicken like him. He was interested in the fact I had a radio show back home, he has an interest in Media himself.
Vince Forrester is a Luritja/Aranda man born in Alice Springs. He lived on a cattle station (Angus Downs) in a traditional environment, where he was influenced by his forefathers. Today, he still practices his responsibilities and rituals and now takes his place as a teacher of traditional law to young men. Vince was instrumental in setting up Central Land Council, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, Aboriginal Legal Services, Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) and its television station Imparja.
I listened to Vince Forrester tell me the story of the seven sisters or the Pleiades as we know them as in the sky. A lot of the dreaming stories are wrapped up in the the transgression and movement of this particular star grouping. Orion is another that figures big in many of the stories. The Pleiades show the emu in the sky story as well. As this constellation moves during the year the Emu turns her head down and when her beak is pointing to the southernmost point is the time to go out and collect the Emu eggs and this story would pass along the song lines across the continent Vince explained the song lines across the country and he explained the significance of these to the various language groups across Australia now even.
The Infamous Rock Climb
I know that a Japanese tourist lost her life on the rock last year and her husband took her body home for the cremation and brought her ashes back and then he scattered these from the top of the rock. Not long after this took place Japan experienced a serious tsunami that totally devastated the land and the people. What is the correlation to the scattering of the ashes? Is there any at all perhaps yes perhaps No. If the curse is true, then Uluru fought back harder than ever this time. I hope the Japanese and all of the others wake up soon and stop walking on the rock. If we were meant to walk on this place the creation beings would have put in a set of steps. At Mt Fujiyama, which is their sacred rock has built in steps. The Anangu still practice full ceremony in this place and they ask visitors to not walk on the rock and not to photograph certain parts of the rock. These are the most sacred places of all. The Anangu believee that taking pictures away will take away the spirit and the energy retained here at the Uluru. I felt it was of the highest respect to these beautiful people to observe this and to listen to what they had to say. It is such a cold heart that does not heed the heartfelt plea of these people and it shows that in this world there are many who do not respect others and have no qualms whatsoever in bringing this allegedly dangerous energy into their own homes or towns. They don’t mind risking others in doing this either. It has to be the height of selfishness in my opinion.
The beautiful Aunty’s
I fell in love with the woman. I fell in love with their absolute connection to the earth we were all standing on. I felt like I was home being with these woman. I had a couple of very strong spiritual experiences while at the rock and nearby and I won’t speak of this publicly because of the high nature of what occurred for me. I was told not to speak of this. So my lips are sealed. I cried when I said good bye to the deadly sisters as they were introduced to me as. I felt something in that moment and so did the Aunty. I loved Aunty Alison Hunt who is a senior Anagnu Elder. She was just wonderful and it was easy to help her out with some simple taske of carrying and lifting and fetching from the car. I wanted to make her cups of tea because she loved her tea and she liked it with milk no sugar. The resort had many teabags and so this was an easy ask. I took some shell creations I had made in my creative times and I knew immediately these were for her and for her home. She loved them and I shed a tear when I handed these to her. She knew it was love. I was honored when she asked us to go back out to the rock and collect the bush tucker for an exhibition that was being hosted that evening by the Maruku Arts Centre at the resort.
This is an excerpt from the Into the Blue Creative Walks website
moved me so much when I read more about Aunty Alison Hunt. I realized immediately and so did she there was a connection without us even knowing each other. This is purely evident now. We have both lived an entire lifetime without our birth mothers to be with us and love us. Her mother passed away at birth and mine left me when I was four months old. We both have much in common. This story will also explain why I felt so entirely honored by this beautifully spirited woman of absolute substance and strength. I could possibly learn a thing or two. Any I think you may need to grab a hanky before you read this.
The Desert Oak grows slowly in its first years, appearing to linger in an extended adolescence.
Beneath the surface the tap root furiously seeks the water table.
Sometime in the late 1940′s, Alison Hunt was born in the small mission community of Areyonga. While the country traditionally belonged to the Malbunka family, it became a refuge for displaced Pitjantjatjara people. Alison’s mother had walked there with her mother, father and sister from the South-West Petermann Ranges, many hundreds of kilometres away.
As she gave birth to Alison, her mother died, in the bush, under a tree.
In accordance with law & custom she was buried quickly and her parents walked back to their tribal lands. The baby was left with extended family to be raised.
In that time of terrible upheaval for Aboriginal people, the sadness could not be borne by the family to whom the baby had been entrusted. They had neither food nor clothes. Beyond that their grief for the dead mother was too deep. In Aboriginal culture they were too “sorry”.
Alison explained to me that “sorry” is more than grief. Aboriginal people become disorientated and emotionally helpless in the face of death. It might be that in a society that lacks a notion of individualism, death kills part of the clan itself, leaving the family in state of living death.
In any case they asked Wilfred Swift, a Western Aranda man who was working in the Areyonga mission store as a Lutheran evangelist, to adopt the child. Wilfred’s wife, Lucy Malbunka Swift, was happy to accept the baby and Alison was raised as a Western Aranda woman.
At the age of 12 Alison was told the story of her birth. She had always wondered why the Pitjantjatjara mobs at Areyonga had called out to her. “Pitja nuna na la kutu” … “Come over
here to us”.
When the child was adopted there was a traditional contract agreed upon that one day she would return to her birth mother’s family to be told the stories of her country. To become a Pitjantjatjara woman. As Alison explains this contract was beyond a promise. It was the deepest of obligations that went to the heart of Aboriginal spirituality, for people to “know” their country.
Wilfred was a strong man. He spoke English, Pitjantjatjara and Western Aranda [and understood a little German] and acted as a liason officer between both white and black tribes, translating not only the words spoken but placing them into a cultural context that people could understand.
This was the time of the forced removals. Children disappeared, never to be seen again.
“Never get in that whitefella’s car” was a constant warning to the children.
Wilfred told the white authorities that this child was being brought up well and none of his children must ever be taken away. With his adopted child he had the extra obligation that she would one day return to her blood family.
Alison grew up watching her father speak confidently to white men. When her adopted father and mother died she left for her mother’s country and learnt the stories. In obedience to the original arrangement she visited her mother’s birthplace.
In Aboriginal society Alison has dual nationality, she is both a Pitjantjatjara and Western Aranda woman. Like her father she remains neutral in politics lest everyone gets lost in division. She has sat on the board of the Central Land Council and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. She speaks her mind as confidently as her father spoke his.
I have watched Aboriginal people around white authority figures and witnessed the change in character. Deep down and with good reason, there is a fear of what we are capable of. Alison, like her father, holds her ground.
As strong as she is, Alison is a gentle soul. Like most of the “nanas” her main concern is for her grandchildren.
I call her often, ironically to complain about whitefella bureaucrats. Experience has taught her the futility of outrage and she brings me gently back to earth like a kite in trouble.
Alison’s English is perfect yet she can neither read nor write.
She has never told the story of her childhood to a whitefella before. I, and you, are privileged. Ultimately Alison is a teacher and I believe a great spiritual leader. You do find them out here in the desert.
As she spoke about Wilfred and Lucy the old woman broke down, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t
for them”, tears flowing up as from a tap root deep in the earth.
When the sapling hits water it flourishes
and grows tall in the desert with limbs that whistle in the wind.
PS. Alison would welcome a conversation with you. She believes that “we need to open the door …. to embrace and welcome one another.”
So this was my trip to Uluru. It was really a moving experience for me and coming home was not altogether easy. I wanted to come home as I was excited to be home with Brice and the animals but I felt that part of my heart would forever be out there at Mutujulu and with the woman of the rock. I met Aunty Alison’s Nana and I want to send her marbles for her grandsons so they can play marbles as well. This age old game is once again sweeping the country and it has touched the kids of Mutujulu but there are no marbles to be bought. Wish I could afford to just send heaps out there for free. I hope you enjoyed my adventure as I surely did and I do hope to get back out there and stay with Aunty Alison and give her a hand again as that was heaps fun.
All of my photos of my trip and some others as well are on Flickr and you can find them by clicking this link here below:
Images by Mezza – Uluru dreaming
- Places & Spaces: Longitude 131, Ayers Rock, Australia (ecosalon.com)
- Kata Tjuta (Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park), Red Center (ericksongypsycaravan.wordpress.com)
- must visit in Australia: the Red Centre – Ayers Rock (Uluru), the Olgas (Kata Tjuta) and Alice Springs (nothingtowhere.com)
- Uluru (ericksongypsycaravan.wordpress.com)
- Okami and Uluru (jmgoyder.com)
- Uluru, Evidence of Spirit Ancestors (scskillman.com)
- Australia: Northern Territory – Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (onetoday.wordpress.com)
- Ayers Rock (dailypics.co.cc)
- What do Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) and Devil’s Tower have in common? Part 1 (creationscience4kids.com)
- Uluru: Heart and Soul of Australia. (thetravelcrew.wordpress.com)