I didn’t think I’d have Internet in this remote, no-man’s land, but I do. You never know.
This morning was brutal. We had a 4:30 wake-up call. Then we met in the lobby at 5:30, and were on board our flight to Ayers Rock or Uluru by 7:00.
Garrett had arranged for the three of us to sit together, but somehow things got fouled up, and I was seated away from him and Carol. But, it turned out great anyway. I was seated in a row with a friendly Aussie nurse, Robin. Once she figured out I was one of the many tourists on the plane, she talked my ear off the whole way.
Robin was coming to Uluru with her colleagues for a nursing retreat on how to treat burns . She was born in the Outback on a farm, and so she has great respect for this place. She finally had me sit by the window, so I could just enjoy the magnificent landscape of this huge, non-populated area of Australia. We talked about Australia and the US. The time flew by. Then I asked her my big question. “Can you really put a bit of termites’ nest in water and drink it to take away stomach pain?” She said it was absolutely true. We became mates.
Upon landing, we boarded our bus for the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and the Aboriginal Cultural Center. The Anangu Aborigines manage this land, and so much of it has been declared sacred. Photography is restricted in many areas, so I have no photos of the Cultural Center. Inside the center, however, the stories of these Aborigines was a highlight. Our guide, Toni, said that the Aborigines are the oldest people on earth, and so they look at us as being young and not having understanding about life. As a storyteller what this means is that you have to reach a certain level of understanding before you are allowed to tell a story. Their stories teach lessons and ensure that this culture is preserved.
After the lunch, we headed out to Uluru/Ayers Rock itself. This sandstone monolith sits 348 meters above ground, but most of it is underground. You can see by the pictures what a stunning site it is. The colors of this landscape are so vibrant, and, apparently this year, the area has had a lot of rain for the first time in many years, so there is more green to set off the red and ochre earth.
This Rock is sacred to the Aborigines, and apparently back in the 1960s, it became a popular tourist destination. People came in buses. Hotels sprang up next to the rock, and people climbed all over it. When this area became a national park with Aboriginal oversight in the early 1970s, tourist facilities were removed. Yulara, the town we are staying in tonight, was then established along with the airport.
No one is allowed to climb on the rock anymore except for the the Aborigines who climb on the rock for specials ceremonies. Once again, as we drove around the rock, we were not allowed to take photos of the rock in certain places. Sadly the side that contains a set of holes clustered together and looks like a brain was restricted. You also cannot remov any small rocks or anything else from the rock. It apparently brings bad luck. The park facility has many rocks that people have taken and now understand that was a bad thing to do.
We walked out to Uluru with the guide, Toni. She showed us a watering hole and also a family cave with Aboriginal story paintings. In the photo I posted look carefully for white lines. These lines represent the coming of non-Aboriginal people and are part of a story that we were mostly too young to hear by Aboriginal standards.
We checked into our hotel around 3:00 and will soon be meeting to go out to Uluru tonight for dinner and star-gazing. Surely it will be a most special evening. It’s 98 degrees here and 34 degrees back home in Renton.
Mosquito Update: I bet you thought I forgot my mosquito updates. I actually haven’t, but I wanted to wait until I found a good new tidbit of information. My flying mate, Robin, told me that female mosquitoes identify their prey by smelling the carbon dioxide left from human breath. I hadn’t heard that before, but look at faces covered by nets. They were basically to keep off the flies and mosquitos.