Uluru (sometimes called Ayers Rock) is one of the largest monoliths in the world. Made of arkosic sandstone, Uluru rises 348 metres above the desert floor and has a circumference of 9.4 kilometres.
Kata Tjuta, known also as The Olgas. Kata Tjuta is the Aboriginal name, which means "many heads'. It is a group of more than 36 rounded red domes rising from the desert floor. The tallest is said to be around 546 metres high. Kata Tjuta is about 30 kilometres west of Uluru.Sunset and sunrise over Uluru and Kata Tjuta are spectacular, with the colours at both sites becoming more vibrant and even changing. Uluru and Kata Tjuta have significant meaning to Aboriginal people. They both form an important focus of their spiritual life.
Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park is Aboriginal land. The park is jointly managed by its Anangu traditional owners and Parks Australia. The park is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Area for both its natural and cultural values.
The Central Australian landscape, of which Uluru and Kata Tjuta are an important part, is believed to have been created at the beginning of time. The Anangu Aboriginal people are responsible for the protection and appropriate management of these ancestral lands. The knowledge necessary to fulfil these responsibilities has been passed down from generation to generation.
During the 1870s, William Giles and William Gosse were the first white explorers to this region. Giles was the first to reach Kata Tjuta and named it The Olgas after the then reigning Queen Olga of Wurttemburg. Gosse, however, was the first to reach Uluru and named it Ayers Rock after his superior, Sir Henry Ayers, the Chief Secretary of South Australia.
In the early 1900s the Government declared ownership of the land and by the 1950s tourists and miners had begun to make tracks to Uluru and Kata Tjuta. At the time only a few Anangu were living at Uluru. However, as tourist numbers grew, most of the Anangu there scattered into other regions within Central Australia.
By the early 1970s, the pressure of tourism was having detrimental effects on the environment and the government agreed in 1973 to relocate accommodation facilities to a new site.
It was not until 1979 that, in recognition of the existence of traditional Aboriginal owners of Uluru and Kata Tjuta, a national park was acknowledged. In 1983 Prime Minister Hawke announced the government's intention to grant ownership of the land back to the traditional owners. The agreement, however, required the traditional owners to lease the park to the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service for a period of 99 years.
Tjukurpa - The Creation PeriodEdit
Anangu life revolves around the Tjukurpa (sometimes wrongly referred to as the Dreamtime). To the Aboriginal people, this is the ancestral period of when the world was being formed.
At Uluru, Mala (hare wallaby), Kuniya (woma python) and Liru (poisonous snake) are considered to be very important ancestors to the region.
- The Mala Tjukurpa involves three groups of Mala people who travel from the north to reach Uluru. Two groups then flee south and south-east to sites in South Australia.
- Kuniya Tjukurpa tells of the travels of the Woma Python from hundreds of kilometres east of Uluru. The Woma Python lived in the rocks at Uluru where she fought the Liri, the poisonous snakes.
These stories and many others have been passed down through thousands of years from generation to generation. The elder people recount, maintain and pass on this knowledge through stories, behaviour, rituals, ceremonies, songs, dances and art. Tjukurpa is therefore the basis of all Anangu knowledge and connects everything in life.
The cultural landscapes of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park resonate with meaning. They contain creation stories and the associated knowledge of law, relationships, plants, and animals, all of which live in the shapes and features of the land.
Places where significant events in the Anangu story occurred are held as sacred sites. Anangu have the responsibility and obligation to care for the land in a proper way. As such, tourists are not permitted access to certain significant or sacred sites. Even inadvertent access to these can be sacrilegious.
At Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park some areas are fenced off and sometimes photography is restricted to ensure that visitors do not inadvertently contravene Tjukurpa restrictions.
Can I Climb Uluru?Edit
Aboriginal traditional owners would prefer visitors to not climb Uluru. There are two reasons for this:
- Firstly, the path of the climb is associated with important Mala ceremonies. Aboriginal people believe that during the time when the world was being formed, the Uluru climb was the traditional route taken by Mala men when they arrived at Uluru. Because of this spiritual significance, they prefer that - out of education and understanding - you choose to respect their law and culture by not climbing.
- Secondly, Anangu have a duty to safeguard visitors to their land. They feel great sadness if visitors to their land are killed or injured. As such, traditional owners would prefer that as guests to their land, visitors will respect Anangu Law and culture by not climbing.
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