Thursday, April 05, 2012

Travelogue: Australia – Weekend Side Trip: Uluru – Part 4c, Uluru After Sunrise

Bummer! I cannot believe that I have traveled 2/3 the way around the world, then flew half-way across a continent, and just because I could die (or some lame excuse like that), they’re not gonna let me climb this lovely chunk of rock! But, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself…

So, we have watched the sunrise and the time is now about 07:30. We are back on the bus and the driver/guide is now a lot more chatty than he was a couple hours ago. We are told that this rock has deep roots… most of it is under the ground. He points out the vertical lines through the rock and points out that the rock was laid down as a part of an ancient beach and then tilted 90-degrees to the upright position.

He explains that while the indigenous peoples do not climb the rock themselves, they do not forbid others from climbing it, provided they respect it! He also points out that the park rules are that if the temperatures are to be above 30c (86°) the climb will be closed at 08:00. We only have about a ten-mile (14 kilometer) drive to the climb.

The prediction for today is predicted for 36c (96.8°) so if we are going to climb it will be within the next half-hour. Unfortunately, as we approach the climb it does not look good! There are cars at the sight and nobody making their way up the chain! The guide also points-out that as it had been lovely and windless at the other side of the mountain, over here there is a distinct breeze blowing. He surmises that the reason that will be posted on the sign is “high wind at summit.”

…and he is absolutely correct. The sign is out and the verdict is high winds at the summit. The anemometer at the base of the mountain is spinning as if it were possessed. The winds at the top appear to be fairly strong as they few shrubs near the top are absolutely whipping about! There will be no climbing today. I am momentarily bummed, but I would later read the park brochure which clarifies what the guide has told us. While they don’t object to “The Climb” if you respect the mountain and the importance of it to their culture, they encourage you not to climb it in reference to their beliefs. It does not say so, but I imagine that this would, to them, be somewhat akin to their going into your church and climbing the stained-glass windows. I feel sort of bad that I wanted to climb it in the first place.

This place gets more and more amazing the more I learn about it!

So instead of going up we go around. We learn some of the amazing history of this place and a few of the bits of the lore that we are allowed to know; the aboriginal inhabitants of the area are protective of their history.

We learn of the creation story of the two snakes: Kuniya and Liru

The talk begins at a formation near the base of the mountain. “You can’t tell me that doesn’t look like a snake’s head!” The guide declares, pointing out the rock at the top of the pile. “Does everyone agree that looks like a snake’s head? If you don’t, you’re walking back to the hotel! Who doesn't see a snake's head?”

“Well, I do now!” I say in exaggerated mock sarcasm. The guide gives me a jovial nudge and I receive general laughter in response.

He points out a black stain high on the side of the rock and explains the story of Kuniya and Liru. One (Kuniya) is the protector, the other is the destroyer. Kuniya has created in this area a garden wherein the indigenous peoples live in peach and plenty. The gardens bring forth all manner of fruits and grains.

Liru is envious of the love between mankind and Kuniya and he sets out to destroy mankind and the garden. A battle ensues and Kuniya ends-up killing Liru, whose body lies at the foot of the mountain in pieces forever to remind mankind of the protection that Liru provided. Liru, remains as a shadow on the mountain, still protecting the people of the world.

It is a lovely story, and the area is lovely as well. Under the shadow if Liru, there are shady caves in the rocks. There are protected gaps between the toes in the feet of the mountain that get direct sun only a few hours each day. It is a protected shady area that you can rest in to avoid the heat of the day. On one of these, the only water for miles around can be found.

Uluru is porous! It is sandstone and soaks in the rains that do fall and then allow it to seep out for weeks afterward. Our guide tells is that in the years he has been doing this, he has never seen the waterhole we go to dry up. It is about five-feet deep at its deepest and serves the area with water, attracting wildlife.

The area is beyond words! Just a few feet from this shady, lovely place it is arid, hot and inhospitable. It is easy to see the reverence that this piece of rock inspires. I thank the indigenous Anangu people for sharing it with us!

Wherever you are this morning I hope that you have had an adventure this weekend!

Don Bergquist – 05 April 2012 – Canberra, ACT, Australia

No comments: