The Mutitjulu Anangu are the traditional owners, or caretakers of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and manage the park along with Parks Australia.
The Anangu people are the keepers of the Tjukurpa – the basis of all Anangu knowledge, which connects all of life – including religion, philosophy, human behavior and laws required for people to live in harmony with the land and each other. The ancestral beings in the area include Kuniya – the woma python, Liru the poisonous snake and Mala the hare-wallaby.
I took a tour this morning – called ‘Desert Awakenings’ or known locally as ‘Dawn Service’ and revisited some of the places Bob took me in the early morning light and cool breezes. It’s a good tour – to watch the desert come alive with the rising sun.
We climbed a sand dune to the viewing platform and saw the horizon as a thin yellow, red and blue line , Uluru faintly visible in front, Kata Tjutu around to the right. As day grew brighter the desert did come alive, the hues of green and grey and red on the ancient sea bed. Afterwards, walking around Uluru, the early morning shadows cast by the folds of rock and the fresh breeze through the mulga gave the impression of early autumn although it was the middle of summer – February.
As the guide droned on with his standard monologue about the geology of the area, I looked out to the edge of the world. The surrounding spinfex was burnt, stick skeletons of oaks or gum trees, sprouting new greenery. I leant over and placed my hands on the rough cool surface of the rock. Under the sound of voices, the wind, the rustling spinifex, was a deeper resonation, a low vibration. I looked up and saw the waning moon. I could feel the earth spinning around the sun at 108 000 km an hour, and the vast distance between the stars and the planets, also spinning, trapped by gravity, and I imagined a solar wind rushing through the galaxy, through time , random, and found for once I wasn’t living inside my head I was out there. Justified and ancient, like that song by KLF.
No disrespect intended to the traditional owners of the land – it’s what I was thinking (see Christian Lander on romanticising and/or appropriating Indigenous culture). Anyway, the song title ‘Justified and Ancient’ comes from the KLF’s earlier band name – the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, which was in turn taken from the 1970’s conspiracy novels – the Illuminatus! Trilogy, myths about mythology, current events, conspiracy theories and counterculture. All of which exist at this site, with Uluru, Pine Gap, the NBN, tourists. I recommend reading the Trilogy – v. funny.
Suddenly I was paying attention to the guide, who began telling my favourite story from the Anangu Tjukupa – the story of Kuniya, the woma python who lived on the rocks. I am able to relate the story here – this story has been shared with non-aboriginal people.
Kuniya’s beloved nephew has been killed by Liru and she is very angry and upset. She rushes around Uluru to find Liru, to ask – why did you kill my nephew? But Liru doesn’t seem to care to answer the questions. Kuniya’s rage grows, she hits the rock 3 times with her stick and until she can’t control herself anymore and kills Liru with a blow to the head. Blood flows down the rock. But it turns out that this was not Liru who killed Kuniya’s nephew.
The story of Kuniya’s misplaced anger at Liru not only tells how these marks came to be on Uluru – you can see where Kuniya couldn’t control her anger and hit places on Uluru with a big stick and where blood from the Liru head flows down the rock. It also tells a story of incorrectly judging someone and bad tempers not held in check, and so the ethics and rules around revenge and correct punishment for crimes. This is one of the stories that might have been told to children, in the children’s cave, as the rock art shows some of the stories.
Back at Yulara I quickly packed bags and waited out front for the 1pm bus to Alice Springs – I wanted a window seat, to see the passing desert. I had butterflys. Something I knew was propelling me to the mountain range I dreamt of –and it wasn’t just the bus. Something was going to happen – a shift, an event, a violence, a love – I didn’t know – but recently I learnt to welcome any shift in perspective, see the future as part of the past, play with time and I wasn’t too scared. Well not really.
Tomorrow – The Road to Alice Springs
What is pyschogeography? What is this blog about? To find out – visit ’What is Continental Drift’ page – here…or look at the home page and check out how much time I’ve been wasting trying to work out all those flash features… : )