April 9, 2019
October 23, 2017
As most of you know, my pilgrimage is focused on sacred sites. I found many sites on the islands during the cruise. My first stop in Australia is Uluru (formerly Ayers rock ). The Anangu people have lived and worship around this rock for over 50 thousand years. In the 1600s the first Europeans accidentally "discovered" the continent.
Uluru pushes out of the red earth in the Northern Territory, at the center of the country. Equally sacred Kata Tjuta stands about 30 km away. The Anangu, like most indigenous people, held the land, the natural resources, and all of creation with great respect. Uluru is big, bold, unchanging, and has power. It sits on a gravitational grid that gives it energy from the earth. People can feel the vibration and the power. The rock became an important site for sacred ceremonies and events.
As Europeans began to inhabit and take control of the aboriginal land Uluru (and most sacred sites) went from being a holy place to being a tourist attraction. The Anangu people compare the experience to allowing tourists to climb over the altar in a Catholic Cathedral or run wild through a Mosque.
Today this place feels like an odd combination of sacred and sight-seeing. The land is now a national park and controlled by the government and the Anangu. There are areas used for sacred ceremonies that are off limits to tourists. There are sacred stories about the place that are not shared outside the tribe. Traditional art, crafts, music, and language are practiced and taught to new generations. There is a restored respect for the place and the people.
At the same time there is a big resort 20km from Uluru. There are tour companies, dinner options, entertainment options so you could spend a week here and never see the rock. I went to a dinner last night called Sounds of Silence. We ate crocodile, kangaroo and quandong and watched the sunset. Then an astronomer introduced us to the southern night sky. There was not a single moment of silence. There was not a single mention of the rock's spiritual significance. The resort is the only option for housing and meals. The nearest hotel is 5 hours away.
I have more time here to work on resolving my inner turmoil. For now I try to be aware and open to the whole experience. Until later...palya (Pitjantjatjara word for hello, goodbye, thank you, welcome)