Imagine yourself in a world where dreams are real, where creatures of your imagination come to life, where time does not matter and the spirits of nature control your fate. It is a world of creation, cycles and beliefs. For the Australian aborigines, this is the “Dreamtime” or Tjukurpa, the source and reason for everything. Uluru appeared on the surface of the earth during “The Dreaming”. Lizards, emus and birds left their marks around Uluru. (Read the story here.) But that’s only one of the stories. The famous one is the Battle of Kuniya, a female python and a group of Liru or venomous snakes. (Read the story here.)
Seeing this massive formation and witnessing the changes of sunset/sunrise hues it reflects, I believe I was in a dreamland. It’s like magic but less deceptive and more beautiful. Listed as both natural and cultural world heritage by UNESCO, Uluru is definitely a unique must-see. Towering in the middle of nowhere and vibrant despite the arid land of Australia’s Red Centre, it’s like an oasis–captivating, alive and with stories to tell.
Uluru is a sacred site for the Pitjantjatjara people. They request visitors not to climb it both for cultural and safety reasons. I’ve mentioned in my post The Rock Tour Rocks that at least 35 climbers have died and once the statistics reach 40, they will officially close the path. (I know, it sounds ridiculous.) Although discouraged, climbing the steep rock is still permitted. Our guide also stressed the sacredness of Uluru to the Pitjantjatjara people and climbing it signifies lack of respect to their tradition. My husband cleverly said that, climbing Uluru is akin to stepping on the crown of the Queen. Surprisingly, a lot of people still climb it. I overheard someone saying that they would probably never visit Uluru again so they better climb it now (I find this reasoning selfish and insensitive) and they were disappointed by our guide’s words of discouragement. He calls those who climb Uluru, “heathens”.
How can we desecrate a place which culture has been around thousands of years before us? How can we not heed to a request for respect from a people who has mastered the stewardship of nature? How can we fulfill our selfish pursuits to climb a mountain in expense of a belief that has moved this mountain?
I find the 2-hour base walk an opportunity to reflect and be closer to nature. Walking around this amazing creation reminded me that my life is minute compared to the grandness of nature, that my life is connected with everything else around me, that I am a part of this cycle–these were my thoughts while Uluru guides me along the way, never leaving my sight.
Uluru has many faces. It is a mountain of several expressions. Each part is unique. And there are several parts where photography is not allowed because they were sites for rituals performed by the aborigines. To respect the sacredness of Uluru, it is advised not to make loud noises and not leave anything behind, other than memories.
The Memories of this natural monument; the lullaby of its dreamtime story–these are our souvenirs from Uluru. And we left nothing behind except for respect the original Australians greatly deserve.