Uluru is still about 500km away from Alice Springs, so we didn’t drive there in one day. The first night, we slept at a free campsite by the road. There were some other people next to us who had the cutest dog called Mango .
The next day we went to the Henbury meteorite crater, going over 15 ks of badly corrugated road, shaking the whole car. Then we got extra petrol, and stopped at Mt Connor lookout. Apparently a lot of tourists confuse it to be Uluru :D. It is one of the three large formations, together with Uluru and Kata Tjuta in the regions, but Mt Connor is on private land, so you can only go there if you pay 100s of dollars. Australian whitefellas making money on the back of aboriginal culture, it feels like that. From the lookout you could also see a dried salty lake. Pretty cool! We drove to Curtin Springs camping and chilled the rest of the evening.
The next morning we woke up before 6am when it was still pitch dark and started driving towards Uluru to be there as early as possible. We drove super nervous, staring to the road like maniacs and driving in the middle of the road to have a better safety marginal if a kangaroo or camel happened to jump from the bush. We made it there allright and even got to see the sunrise (although not from the best viewing spot - from the sunset spot :P).
We spent the coldest hours of the day at the culture centre where they had a lot of info about Uluru and the aboriginals, but no adequate heating. After breakfast we joined the ranger guided 2h walk. The walk was very interesting and we had a very knowledgeable ranger who told a lot of interesting facts. Uluru was an important location for aboriginal people, because it has a couple of permanent waterholes (very useful in the desert) and some shelter caves in it. The waterholes are important not only for the people themselves, but also because animals will come and drink there, so that makes for a food resource. The local aboriginal people of Uluru are the Anangu people. They lived in the area around Uluru, moving from place to place, not to stress one spot by taking too much of its resources.
Uluru was thus a good place to come from time to time, but also a very important place for doing their Inma or ceremonies. Aboriginal stories about the land they belong to are the creation stories called dreamtime or tjukurpa. This tells how the world was created as we know it. They also allow aboriginal people to travel the land, as the stories include landmarks which are connected to the dreamtime, and most of them have moral lessons in them. Usually these dreamtime stories cannot be told to outsiders, but here they seem to make an exception, and we got the very very basic (child level) story. The stories work so that when an aboriginal boy reaches puberty (matures), he gets the stories thought by his grandfathers (not father) and girls from their grandmothers. They then learn the very simple playful story. Then they start to learn more and more, as the story gets more and more layers, deeper meanings, and interpretations of the world and about aboriginal law and society (also in tjukurpa). Once they are ready to become men, they become custodians of the part of the story that they have learned.
Some stories travel 1000 of kms across Australia, but within every group of aborigines, the custodians only know their part of the story very well. I wrote earlier that aboriginal society was prehistoric (didn’t have writing, or knives or the wheel or domesticated animals), but if you look at it from another point of view, they were much more advanced than we are today. We use the resources of the earth without considering it’s impact (mining, food, …) while they were very considerate about this. They had a good system for education, had developed everything they needed from the bush and land, were completely happy and didn’t need more. They didn’t even have a word for thank you, because you are supposed to give. Makes me think who is prehistoric sometimes.
But so around Uluru, there is a couple of stories connected to its creation and its cultural legacy (which I am not allowed to share here, you need to make the trip yourself ), which makes it a very amazing place to visit. And then there is just the fact that it’s an amazing, beautiful piece of rock nature left to us, which looks different from every point you see it and you see something new every time you look at it. It is a very magical and « deep » place.
After the walk with the ranger, we did the base walk around the rock and had lunch/dinner at the picnic area. We ended up watching the sunset on top of our car - by the road, to avoid the crowds. It was pretty magical!
The next morning we woke up at 6am again to get to the sunrise viewing area on time. We were way early (and so were many other people). The sunrise from there was quite disappointing. It was on the shadow side of the rock, so you couldn’t really see the colors change. After the Uluru sunrise, we headed to Kata Tjuta.