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Quote of the Day - It's really quite a remarkable find. It's a little snapshot in time. The possibilities are endless in terms of getting a window into past aboriginal society. - Matthew Cupper

MIPTC's South Seas Journal: Wandering In The Red Sand Day Ten

The blue and green that color the Great Barrier Reef change dramatically as we travel inland to and arrive at Ayer's Rock, located just about in the center of the smallest continent of the world.  Small is a relative term.  Australia is about the size of the United States, if you're looking for a comparison, but despite that singular similarity, it couldn't be more different.

The colors of the reef shift to the red earth and blue sky of the desert.  It's a pervasive red, visible just about everywhere other than the sky, which far from overshadows the red of the earth and The Rock.  Ayer's Rock juts straight out of the ground, tilted on a 90 degree angle from the earth.  The rows of sediment belie the angle, visible clearly from overhead.

Just take a look at the photo in the last link, and remember the iceberg rule applies equally here:  you can see only part of it above ground.  It continues deep underground for some five or six miles.  The four clustered hotels of the resort around the exposed part of The Rock are dwarfed in comparison, despite this exaggerated, wide-angle view.

But it's not The Rock, the view or the red that strikes me.  It's the spiritual nature of the rock.  The aborigines call it Uluru, called so by the Anangu aborigines.  I'm not sure why it's called Uluru, the aborigines don't put their stories in writing, but instead pass them down from generation to generation.  Nevertheless, the Rock is a stunning monolith.

The Anangu request that we not climb the rock because it crosses one of their dreaming tracks, so we refrained, and instead walked around the bottom and enjoyed the 15 km trip over several days, and even took a helicopter flight around (not over) it and flew around some nearby mountains to get a better perspective. 

While you and I can get in a plane and see the ground from the sky, the Anangu art gives us the same perspective, despite the fact that when these aboriginal dot paintings were first made, no Anangu had ever flown. 

Beyond the art, there's much to see on and around the National Park, and in between, we stayed at a wonderfully quiet hotel, with a phenomenal view of the Rock.  Our walking tour guides from the hotel included those who had spoken with the Anangu to learn their stories, which they in turn related to us. 

The stories are amazingly imaginative and relate directly to the Rock, explaining the formations, caves and cave art, water holes and the sunrises and sunsets.  The stories involve mythical beings who in the form of animals help form Uluru and the surrounding areas.  One anthropologist, Charles Mountford, did some fifty years of research on the Anangu and then published a book containing the stories, Nomads of the Australian Desert, which was promptly banned in Australia by an Australian court-issued injunction because it described rituals sacred to the Anangu, including photographs, and put their stories in writing. 

MIPTC won't make the same mistake.  But you can ask me about it ....

Posted by J. Craig Williams on 4/6/2007 at 20:38 Comments (0)


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