Whenever I had conversations with travelers in Australia, none of them would NOT mention about Red Center, about the experience driving in the outback. Classic story, huh? What’s so cool about it? Well, it’s true that the iconic face in the outback which is Uluru has been used in magazine, advertisement, calendar all over the world. People would immediately recognize this red giant stone. Again, what’s so cool about it?
In my case, I’m not quite sure if it’s a fate or just my alter ego that finally takes me to Uluru. After all the dramas happened switching my way from Western Australia to Northern Territory (read here) I was stranded in the outback.I tried to be positive, even though I’m not a big fan of group tours, I had no other choice instead enjoying the whole trip, and the heat!
Camel farm in one of the rest area
Story behind Uluru
The first thing we did once we arrived in Uluru was visiting the cultural center to gain deeper understanding about Anangu (Aboriginal people of western desert) culture and land, local environment, and the history of the park. It was very informative but still it’s hard for me to understand just by reading until my guide told me the stories behind it. The first Tjukurpa (Traditional law and creation story) he told was about Kuniya, the woma python and Liru, the poisonous snake.
The Kuniya woman came from far to hatch her children in Uluru by carrying the eggs on her neck. One day she heard about the death of her nephew caused by Liru. She was so angry and raced along the curves of the rock to Mutitjulu Waterhole, confronted Liru. They fought, Kuniya took up her wana, or digging stick and struck the head of Liru until he died.
Tjukurpa stories often have moral lesson behind it, used in everyday life. The stories are passed to younger generation to shape their character. They are the core of the ceremonial life, ritualistic songs, and art. In these ways, the Aborigines can preserve their culture and keep them tied to their root. One of the interesting thing for me is, in Aboriginal tradition, men and women are equal. They have their own responsibility and they are not allowed to interfere each other. Men has their own business, so do women.
Physical evidence, resembling Kuniya
Stories illustrated to teach Tjukurpa
Uluru (Ayers Rock)
After I heard the story, my opinion towards Uluru changed. Certainly it’s not just a big rock, there’s something beyond this natural wonder that holds an important role in Aboriginal’s life. The closer I looked at it, I found every side of Uluru is profoundly exceptional. Each curve, line, and mark are just appealing to watch. The best moment was during sunrise and sunset. The sky was blue and clear, no single cloud can be seen. The sun went down creating different layer of color and it’s when Uluru turned golden before the light’s faded out. I finally found out the cool thing about Uluru.
Moment of sunrise
Do not climb Uluru
Our guide strongly discouraged us to climb Uluru. The climb is not prohibited but as a guest on Anangu land, it is wiser to respect their culture. You can tell that the climb is really dangerous, many serious accidents happened while trying to attempt the hike and have resulted serious injury, permanent disability, even death. It is a great sadness for Anangu when a person hurts in their land.
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
Kata Tjuta which means many head is located 46 km from Uluru. From a distance, it has distinguished look with the unique rock formation, which reminds me of Mars, especially when sunrise, the rocks are all in red. The walk that I did was a 7.4 km circuit to Valley of the Wind. Some walks were steep with some loose rocks. Red Center was not as dry and desert as I thought, there were lots of flowers toning up the whole sight. The moment I got to the point of Valley of Wind, I had this strange feeling of serenity while sitting and looking in between the valley. Honestly, it’s not the best view, but the breeze, the quietness, it gave me comfort and warm feeling.
Wattarka National Park (Kings Canyon)
On the third day, we raced to Kings Canyon in the morning so that we could finish earlier before the temperature went high. If the temperature is predicted to be 36 degrees Celcius or above, visitors have to start the rim walk before 9 a.m. and the gate will be closed after. No Tjukurpa story was told in Kings Canyon, instead out guide shared more about geology facts.The surrounding was more about valleys and canyons until we reached a small oasis, Garden of Eden.
– The closest airport is Ayers Rock Airport, another cheaper option is flying to Alice Spring.
– Uluru is situated about 5 hours drive from Alice Spring.
– The road is suitable for 2wd. – The temperature can be really high so prepare sunscreen, hat, and bring enough water.
– I joined 3 days 2 nights tour with Wayoutback. It was a budget tour and I’m pretty satisfied.
Traveled in 23-25 October 2016
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