When you stand before the Northern Territory’s natural and cultural wonders, their scale and otherworldly characteristics demand your attention. Humbled, you can’t help but feel absorbed by the incredible landscapes. These are places that ooze magic, that have captured imaginations since the beginning of time and continue to hold infinite cultural meaning for Traditional Owners.
Often these popular sites, both sacred and spiritual, have sustained the livelihood of Aboriginal Australians for tens of thousands of years. You only have to spend a few days walking the Larapinta or Jatbula Trail to quickly understand just how important a waterhole is for human survival in the Northern Territory. Connection to Country is a huge part of Aboriginal Australian cultures; critical cultural stories and messages are kept in the landscape, unlocked 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 help to protect it and walk away with an enriched visit.
On our trip to the NT, we set out to take in certain 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
5.5 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 been the same since the creation period. The creation period, or Tjukurpa (pronounced 'chook-orr-pa'), refers to the period of time where ancestral beings moved across the land creating the world as we know it.
Tjukurpa guides daily life for Anangu people, and is a complex belief system that encompasses law, religion and moral guidance. It’s not written down but memorised through songs, dancing, art and ceremonies to be passed on from one generation to the next. Natural features found within 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-tongue lizard who discovered Uluru whilst burning off the land, a traditional 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 learn more about Uluru’s living cultural landscape.