“It’s Just A Rock.”

There are people that go all the way to visit famous things, just to call it down. Casually spending the time and money it takes to get there, just so they can later announce: “Oh that. I’ve seen it, I wasn’t impressed.” (Followed by a dismissive wave of the hand, of course.)

I’m assuming that’s the kind of person that visits Uluru, then goes home and tells others, “It’s just a rock!”

Yeah. I didn’t have to go all the way to the middle of Australia to find that out. I thought everyone already knew that. Right? Of course it’s a rock.

But what a rock it is! I don’t know how you could go see it and remain unmoved.

I’d been wanting to visit Uluru ever since I first saw a photo of the giant red formation in the heart of Australia. It’s just so massive, jutting out from the flat arid landscape. It’s one of the continent’s ancient nubs of mountains. When the crust was formed millions of years ago, Uluru appeared to collect a “shedding of granite”, which formed a bunch of layers, melded together, and became flipped on its side. So when you look at Uluru, you’ll see it has vertical layers of rock. This strange and beautiful formation has been very important to the Aboriginal people, who are the caretakers of this land.

And so, they have put up this sign:

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“Please don’t climb. We, the Anangu traditional owners, have this to say: Uluru is sacred in our culture. It is a place of great knowledge. Under our traditional law climbing is not permitted. This is our home. As custodians, we are responsible for your safety and behaviour. Too many people do not listen to our message. Too many people have died or been hurt causing great sadness. We worry about you and we worry about your family. Please don’t climb. We invite you to walk around the base and discover a deeper understanding of this place.”

So naturally, this happens:

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I know it’s judgemental, but I’m just gonna say it: it’s rude. Inconsiderate. And vulgar, to climb Uluru when the traditional owners plead with you to not do so. Looking up, we saw many people butt-scooting their way down, looking nervous. To what end? To reinforce the scarring skidmark on this stunning icon? Ugh.

We did not climb.

Instead, our guides took us on a walk around part of the base, and a drive around Uluru as well. It was valuable to have that interpretation. We also visited the interpretive centre at Uluru, which is entirely run by the Anangu people. We have no photos of it, because photos are not permitted there. I wish we had had more time. If we were spending several months in Australia, then we could have spent several days at Uluru and therefore spent a full day at the interpretive centre, absorbing the stories and meanings. It’s sad to realize we’re just scratching the surface and not really retaining much info. I kept my eyes wide open, and my ears open, and tried to absorb the info as best I could. I hope to return.

Here are some of the things we saw as we walked around Uluru:

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Cave drawings. There are many caves at Uluru, and each has a different significance and history. Unfortunately, people have added their own drawings to the caves… so it’s hard to know what’s original.

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Many trees do not grow very well near Uluru. This one was introduced (not native) and it is clearly dead.

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Yes, a pool of water at Uluru! This is stunning. Otherworldly. Serene. Also, traditionally an excellent place to hunt.

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Can you see the face?

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Touristy pic with Uluru!

And then we sipped sparkling white wine, watching Uluru as it changed colour in the setting sun:

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Before sunset.

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In the midst of sunset.

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After sunset.

I suppose it’s possible to visit Uluru and remain unmoved, unimpressed. But I’m so grateful that I’m not that person. If going to Uluru and appreciating what it is, being stunned and awed, makes me someone who is “easily impressed” — then so be it! I love being quietly exhilarated with wonder, while at the same time struck with sadness.

Sadness that we can’t stay and learn more.

That there are people who don’t listen to the Anangu warning.

And that this beautiful moment is fleeting…

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2 responses to ““It’s Just A Rock.”

  1. so beautiful! that picture of Uluru mid-sunset is incredible! so red!

    so, the sixth little square picture, (starting with the cave painting as #1), there are a lot of trees and it looks like a valley behind the greenery–is this, like, in the middle of Uluru? like, is there a big opening with all that?

    Like

    • Thank-you, Lauren! (Well, Andrew thanks you 🙂 )
      To answer your question… yes! It’s right by Uluru, it’s on the path to the water hole. (Uluru is more than just a smooth red rock — it is not smooth, there are many hidden pockets when you walk along the base…)

      Like

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