Rising 348 meters out of the surrounding red desert plain, reaching 863 meters above sea level with a 9.4-kilometre circumference sits one of the most iconic natural landmarks in Australia. Uluru, or Ayers Rock as it was known by European settlers, is more than just an impressive natural formation. The Anangu (pronounced arn-ung-oo) are the traditional indigenous owners of Uluru, which means great pebble, and the surrounding Kata Tjuta National Park. To the traditional owners of the land, Uluru is incredibly sacred and spiritual, a living and breathing landscape in which their culture has always existed.
According to Australian indigenous cultural beliefs, Uluru was created in the very beginning of time. That time is known as the Dreamtime, the period in which the natural environment was shaped and life forms, both animal and human, were created. In the Dreamtime, ancestral spirits came up out of the earth and down from the sky to walk over the barren land, bringing about landscapes and creating life. Significant landscapes were formed by the ancestral spirits that hold deep spiritual connections and are deemed to be sacred. Uluru is one of those sacred landscapes. The gigantic fissures that slice through the deep red sandstone are linked to ancestors and the caves that line the base of Uluru have great spiritual significance and are still used to perform sacred rituals. Indigenous Australians have been living, hunting and cultivating the sacred land since the Dreamtime. Cultural and spiritual connections are still a strong part of Anangu life today.
The recent history of this beloved Australian icon has been one of controversy. First declared an Australian National Park in 1950, the impressive red monolith and surrounds were officially named Ayers Rock-Mount Olga National Park. Word spread about the natural wonder and tourism to the area started booming. The land was no longer an indigenous reserve, the Anangu were actively discouraged from visiting the area and as a result their culture and rituals were largely ignored. Years of campaigning and lobbying the government for rights to their land ensued and finally, in 1985, Anangu were legally recognised as the traditional owners of the land. The Australian Government handed the title deeds to the park back to their rightful owners. The park was then leased back to the Government on a 99-year lease. Two years later, in 1987, UNESCO added Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to the World Heritage List. It was not until 1995 that, out of respect to the traditional owners, the park name was officially changed from Ayers Rock-Mount Olga National Park to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
In the early 1990’s signs were erected at the base of Uluru on behalf of the Anangu requesting that visitors “Please Don’t Climb”. Although not enforced that the time, the request was out of respect to their sacred living monument and to protect traditional law and sacred information. The number of visitors climbing dropped but never completely stopped. It was not until 26 October 2019 that climbing Uluru was officially banned. While visitors are no longer permitted to climb Uluru, visitors can still experience the natural wonder by way of the numerous hiking tracks around the base of Uluru and through the stunning, unique landscape of the surrounding national park. Anangu welcome visitors to their sacred land to learn about their ancient history, fascinating culture and spiritual connections to the land that are still alive and strong. Immerse yourself in the extraordinary indigenous history and experience a culture like no other with a visit to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.wa
Written by : Wayoutback on 28 February