Dream Time – A step into the Anangu World – Uluru

1 02 2011

Items I have learned today:

Torch = flashlight. I arrived in Alice Springs to see that the tour I was going on asked that I have my own “torch.” I was a little confused when someone at the office told me I could get one at K-Mart.

Tosser = a douchebag

On the piss = intoxicated/drunk

So I arrived at Alice Springs around 1:00pm. It wasn’t until I stepped off the train that I realized exactly how HOT the desert can be. Granted, I knew that I would be there for 40 degree weather (To put things in perspective, I believe 36 degrees is 100 farenheit) but the idea of 40 degrees and the actuality of it are two COMPLETELY different things.

After locating my shuttle and checking into Toddy’s (the hostel that I was staying at), I decided to make a trip into the city to pick up some toiletries (that I brilliantly managed to forget in Melb). I made it about 3 blocks, came to a shell station, and decided to spend the additional mark-up prices to avoid having to do any more walking in the heat. If I was this much of a wuss just walking the city blocks around Alice Springs, I’m not quite sure how the hell I expected myself to survive hiking Uluru and the desert! In any event, I walked back to the hostel, called “The Rock Tour” (the name of the company I was doing my tour with) and had them inform me that I needed to COME IN to their office which was “only a few blocks past the shell station.” AWESOME. So it was back out in the heat to finalize the trip. While there, I also learned that I packed pretty much all of the wrong things for a camping trip (think sun dresses and jeans, when it should have been shorts and t-shirts), and that I needed to buy a hat and a back pack. Well, I couldn’t be bothered with any additional walking so I decided to sort that out while on the road (the gas stations would have to have hats right?) Sigh.

Anyway, it was back to the hostel for food and relaxation before the 6am pick up the next morning to start the tour.

The Rock Tour

The Rock Tour

Now, before I get started on the specifics of the tour, I wanted to say a few things (or.. ahem write as it may be). My favorite thing about this tour, was not just the places that I saw (which, yes were absolutely incredibly amazing), but also the people I was with, and the fact that it was pretty much the first opportunity that I have had since being in Australia to learn some of the history and the background of the anangu (stands for ‘we the people of this land’ – the aboriginal community over there). I will delve into this a bit further later on, but it’s almost as if people try and pretend the aboriginal community does not exist over here, or if they do acknowledge their existence then they are defined and labeled by the extreme – the aborigines that suffer from alcoholism and have not been able to cope. The whole situation is extremely sad to me – so it was a nice change of perspective to visit these sites that are considered sacred to them, and find out a little bit more about some of their culture and who they are.

The Rock Tour – Day One.

It was up and out of the door at 5:45 am to check out and get myself situated before the pick up. Scott, our tour guide, picked us up promptly (the 12 of us conveniently staying at the same hostel). It was off to make a few additional pick-ups, a brief stop at the rock tour office (for those who neglected to finalize their details the day before) and then off.

Uluru up close - well about 0.1% of it

Uluru up close - well about 0.1% of it

Uluru

Uluru


Now the first day was spent at Uluru. Unfortunately it was about 4-5 hour drive out. Had I mentioned yet that I some how chose to go during the hottest month of the entire year? I think Scott’s opening speech went something along the lines of “This will be trying, but worth it” in other words ‘are you guys f*ing nuts?’ We had to stop at the airport for a pick-up, and a missing passenger (who’s flight had electronic problems and arrived later on that day) so we did not actually make it to Uluru until the middle of the afternoon… the HOTTEST part of the day. ashksdahdjksahsadk.

Our first stop was the Aboriginal cultural centre. I actually really liked this, because unlike the museum I would go to in Alice Springs a few days later (to be included in a later blog), this cultural center felt more authentic, it shared the legends and the pieces of cultures that they felt comfortable sharing. Uluru is considered sacred ground to them. According to http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru/culture-history/culture/creation.html

The Anangu believe that –
“None of the places we know in the world existed until creator beings, in the forms of people, plants and animals, traveled widely across the land and, in a process of creation and destruction, formed the landscape as we know it today. Anangu land is still inhabited by the spirits of dozens of these ancestral creator beings which are referred to as Tjukuritja or Waparitja.
The journeys and activities of the creator beings are recorded in the landscape. Sites where significant events in their story took place are linked by what we call, iwara (paths or tracks). Some of the sites are so very significant that they are known as ‘sacred sites’. Today our people still know where these sites and these iwara are and where they go although there is no physical road. Our grandmothers and grandfathers teach us this.”

Unfortunately tourism has pretty much eliminated any present use of it. In fact it was only in 1985 when the government returned ownership to the Anangu community. One of the things I learned about Uluru even prior to going was that it was considered sacred to the Anangu community and they DO NOT climb it. They ask everyone to respect their wishes/culture and not do so. Well guess what? Everyone apparently climbs it anyway. There is a railing and everything built into the rock, and the tourism board only “strongly discourages” the climb. INSANE. Of course I can understand the need to climb things, and most of the people on my tour probably would have climbed up it (it was closed because of the heat – closed from Dec -Feb) if they had been able to. But for me personally, I could not.

Anyway, we start our walk around 3:00pm(ish). Scott points the various caves and artwork that has been carved into the rock by the Anangu. They used to the caves to teach the young. They were also used for resting during the hottest part of the day, to conserve energy for a more feasible time to be active.

A Lesson via Scott

A Lesson via Scott


Conserving Energy - and School

Conserving Energy - and School

Now Uluru was probably the most amazing thing that I saw during this trip, unfortunately however the heat made it so I was unable to focus on anything else other than my discomfort while completing the base walk (the walk around the base of Uluru)

the base walk

the base walk

Really.. my train of thought went like this-
“it’s f’ing hot!”… “where’s my water”… “yum… really warm water.. DELICIOUS (sarcasm)”… “are we there yet?”…. “ugh”….”it’s f’ing hot!” You get the picture.
I really did try to focus on what I was walking around, and if I had to do it all over again would pick a different time of year to complete it.

But, when I did finally round the corner and see the car park (parking lot) I really did feel a HUGE sense of accomplishment. Even though physically the walk was not all that challenging (it was all one level – no ups or downs), doing 5-6k in 42 degree weather IN THE SHADE was a bit hard.

Me - soaked and happy after  the walk

Me - soaked and happy after the walk

One last thing I wanted to share about Uluru – there was a woman on our trip named Rose, she is first nations. She is taking time now to see as many indigenous native sites as she can. I was very interested in her story, although we did not a get a chance to talk too much, I asked her about how she decides where to go. She stated that she goes where she feels herself/her spirit being called to and that Uluru had been calling to her for years. Now I know you all don’t believe in things like that, and you don’t have to, I’m just sharing this because her story impacted me. Anyway, not only did I find it inspiring that she is traveling around the world seeing indigineous sacred sites, but she also shared that she cried when we all first got to Uluru, because “she finally made it.” Now, that’s the kind of stuff that gives me a chills.

The rest of the trip to come… days 2 and 3 will be posted shortly.


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