“Central Australia has an inner wisdom and knowing that permeates into the soul with every breath you take. Words cannot do it justice.”
I’ve been struggling to put into words the beauty, the majesty, the wonder I experienced on a recent trip to the heart of my country. I can’t seem to find the right words to describe how I felt, what I saw, heard and touched. My beloved and I often found ourselves in tears at various times such was the all-encompassing nature of our experience. It’s all locked inside me, I feel it immensely in my very being but can’t quite describe it.
A wise friend of mine summed up my lack of words very aptly when she said that “Central Australia has an inner wisdom and knowing that permeates into the soul with every breath you take. Words cannot do it justice.”
I cannot profess to understand how the Anangu, the traditional owners of Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park, feel about their land, but if what I feel is even a tiny bit similar I have a deeper and more profound respect for them, their culture and the land they love so very much. This place is more than just land, it is a living place, a special and sacred place, a place to be protected and a place to be honoured by all.
Uluru and Kata Tjuta are World Heritage areas for both cultural and natural values. The listing of the park in 1994 for its cultural landscape honours the traditional beliefs and recognises it as one of the oldest human societies on earth. Anangu culture is strong and alive today.
Uluru draws millions of visitors a year. The rock is a sacred monument, one can feel it’s power on approach. My beloved and I chose to walk the circumference of the rock, a three hour walk of approximately 10.2 kiometres. What an awe-inspiring experience. Every angle, every step was so very different. The diversity of plant life around the rock, the features of the rock and the bird life were stunning. We especially enjoyed learning about the ancient beings who shaped the landscape as we walked. I remember, many years ago, an aboriginal elder told me that wherever I go in this country to ask myself whose footprints I walk in. This advice has followed me on every journey I make around my country and was especially poignant on my walk around Uluru and then later Kata Tjuta.
Our journey into one of the most astonishing landscapes in the world continued with a visit to Kata Tjuta. This landform is about 50 kilometres from Uluru and again it is a sacred site. Visitors are reminded to be respectful and to stay on the tracks provided. We enjoyed two walks here; the Valley of the Winds walk; a spectacular steep and rocky walk in places that took us into valleys and creek beds, the views along the way were breathtaking; and the Walpa Gorge walk, a short walk in comparison. The gorge is like a sanctuary. It was a cool place between high russet walls ending at a stream. The plant life was rich and varied. Again, we enjoyed learning about the ancient traditions, the significance of the area, the qualities of the plants and how they were used.
More than ever, I have come away with the certainty and conviction that we are all responsible for looking after the land upon which we live. I thank the Anangu people for the privilege and honour of visiting their land.