You crankily awake at some ungodly hour like 4am to get ready to head out to see the sunrise on the face of Uluru. You are tired from drinking and staying up late to watch the brilliant stars the night before. You really don’t want to roll out of bed.
But when you are standing in front of this orange monolith sleep is the furthest thing from your mind. The sun slowly rises and caps Uluru in a gentle light bathing it softly then becoming stronger. Buses are parked one after the other, lined up like white elephants in the parking lot at the main viewing center – all full of people.
Without hesitation the passengers all head to the primary lookout spot. They look like ants when you walk down the trail some distance and look back at them – and merely several hundred meters away leads one to absolute silence…and solitude. This is the place to be viewing Uluru, alone, pensive and in awe.
Uluru is the primary visual inspiration in this part of the park. But then there are the people who have lived in its shadows for more than 20,000 years. Their cultural heritage is strong. So to are their stories of its presence and its creation.
The Kata Tjuta Culture Cultural Centre, within the National Park is the hub of their life as presented to visitors. Demonstrations of tools used in every day life as well as stories handed down from generations are presented by a Mutitjulu guide from the local community. A visitor center and an art gallery are also part of the Centre.
Bush glue is extremely interesting; it is made from the Tjanpi plant (Spinifex) and in the local language is called “kiti” – the leaves are smashed up into power, a stick is heated over coals and then rolled slowly in the dry leaf powder. This powder immediately turns black and becomes viscous so that you can mold it with your fingers. Traditionally this “glue” was used to hold stone arrowheads or cutting devices on wood and also to fix leaks in wooden bowls for carrying water.
Besides being important as a meat source, the Anangu (Aṉaŋu) people also harvest the tendon from the Kangaroo, and when it it is wet, has very good strength. They use this tendon in part on their cutting devices and spears (anchoring the spearhead into the wood).
Stories abound from these people’s heritage. Particular features on Uluru have meaning to them and tie into stories that have specific moral objectives. Your guide will accompany you as you walk around part of the rock – providing invaluable insights into their culture and beliefs.
I used Rising Sun Tour (both sunrise over Uluru and the cultural activities) for the above experiences. A tour can be arranged by visiting: www.aatkings.com/tours/the-rising-sun