When you stand before the NT’s natural and cultural wonders, their scale and otherworldly characteristics demand your attention. You can’t help but feel humbled and absorbed by the incredible landscapes. These are places that ooze magic, that have captured imaginations since the beginning of time, and continue to hold deep cultural meaning for Traditional Owners.
Often these sacred and spiritual sites have sustained the livelihood of Aboriginal Australians for tens of thousands of years. You only need to spend a few days walking the Larapinta or Jatbula Trail to understand how important a waterhole is for human survival in the Outback. Connection to country plays a strong role in Aboriginal Australian cultures. Essential cultural stories and messages are stored in the landscape, unlocked only by select members of the community to be passed on from one generation to the next.
Similar to visiting the temples of Nepal, Greece’s Mt Parnassos or India’s Taj Mahal, by acknowledging a place’s deep cultural value you can help to protect it and walk away having had an enriched experience.
On our trip to the NT, we set out to take in places through the eyes of Traditional Owners, listening to stories of the land and connecting with ancient cultural practices. We hope you do the same…
Listening to inspiring Creation stories
Uluru, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
5½ hour drive from Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway
Uluru is traditionally owned by the Anangu people, who have occupied the area for tens of thousands of years.
For Anangu and other Aboriginal Australian people, Uluru holds incredible spiritual significance and is believed to have remained the same since the creation period. This period, the Tjukurpa (pronounced chook-orr-pa), refers to the time when ancestral beings moved across the land creating the world as we know it.
Tjukurpa is a complex belief system that encompasses law, religion and moral guidance, and guides the daily life of Anangu people. It’s not written down but is memorised through songs, dancing, art and ceremonies that are passed from one generation to the next. Natural features found around Uluru and Kata Tjuta possess potent Tjurkurpa reminders, wisdom and learnings for Anangu people.
Whilst visiting Uluru we completed the Lungkata Walk and were enlightened by Anangu wisdom. For Anangu, the western face of Uluru is a physical reminder of Lungkata, a greedy blue-tongued lizard who discovered Uluru during a burn-off – a traditional land management practice still practised today.
Lungkata camped high on the western face and, hungry after his journey, stole precious food from other hunters. Lungkata lied to the hunters when they asked if he’d seen the food, and received a fateful revenge. The hunters followed a trail of scraps that lead to the dishonest lizard’s camp, and in return set a large bonfire below his cave. The dark stains on the steep slopes of Uluru are thought to be the smoke and ash from this fire. The smoke choked Lungkata to death, who then fell from the high cave, losing limbs as he tumbled to become a small solitary stone. This story is a reminder of the consequences of being greedy and dishonest, whilst cautioning against the dangers of climbing Uluru.
At the park there are daily ranger-guided tours of the Lungkata Walk and the Mala Walk where you can learn more about Uluru’s living cultural landscape.