The Gypsy with the red notebook

How to discover yourself and the world with inspirational journeys

Days 16, 17 e 18 – Walking on Mars. The Red Heart of esoteric Australia


“Palya!” “Palya!” “Guys, let me introduce you to my uncle…” The dialogue is surreal: Connor is a white, blond and blue-eyed Australian boy. What does he have in common with the very dark aboriginal he greets with a hug, in front of a petrol pump in the middle of nowhere, in the Outback? Yet he is really his uncle, distant relatives – Connor’s mother is Scottish and his father has only indirect Australian ancestry – but with an aboriginal sensibility we will learn to recognize. With a group, I am leaving Alice Springs for a 3 days-tour in the desert, discovering Kings Canyon, Kata Tjuta and Uluru.

Kata Tjuta and Uluru are the holiest places for Aboriginal spirituality, a sort of red Jerusalem in the middle of the bush. Originating 500 million years ago, they are part of a single, huge sandstone massif, only a small part is visible: Uluru (or Ayers Rock, as renamed by western explorers) is 350 meters high, the highest dome of Kata Tjuta (or Olgas Mountains) 200 meters higher.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg: at least 7 other incredible kilometers of rock lie underground, and together with Mount Conner they form a single immense agglomeration of rock; according to some scientists, they are the remains of a satellite crashed on Earth 3.5 billion years ago. About 500 million years ago, an ocean would have submerged all the area, depositing sediment after sediment, until the rocks, finally exposed, would have been slowly and inexorably eroded by elements.

Seen from a distance, Uluru appears as an immense polished monolith. Actually, it is a rock full of fissures, caves, springs, mysterious ravines, for each of them the Anangu, the local aborigines, have a legend handed down orally, from father to son. Some special sacred places cannot be photographed: imprinting on a photo the detail of a cave or a roughness told by a legend would mean erasing that story forever.

This is Tjukurpa’s law, the Dreaming: men and women – separately, without ever wanting to know each other’s secrets – pass on to young men and women business men’s and women’s business, the secrets of the land, plants and animals. This way, they learn how to survive in a harsh and hostile environment, where temperatures can rise above 40 degrees during the day, dropping below zero at night. Aboriginal elders are even able to identify members of their clan simply by watching their footprints in the sand.

Some of Tjukurpa’s secrets are also revealed to white people, just the basic legends told to children. Many of these stories, besides creating an oral “map” of the sacred places where they flourished, hide a moral intent: the legend of Kuniya, the python woman, who took revenge on the poisonous snake Liru, recalls the importance of listening to women’s intuition and taking care of other members of the tribe; The legend of the Seven Sisters tells about “taboos” of marriages from different tribes, as well as being a fascinating tale about Pleiades’ creation.

Uluru at sunset

Today, Aboriginal people have been running the park with whites since 1985, the date of the memorable “Handback”, which ironically returned ownership of the land to the people who had inhabited it for at least 20,000 years. The only constraint is the co-management with “National Park and Wildlife” for 99 years, allowing tourists to climb the rock, a sacrilegious act for them, attracting every year hordes of tourists – especially Japanese.

Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon with its evocative Valley of the Winds, the secret of the Garden of Eden: the 3-days excursion was also a unique opportunity for bushcamping, sleeping 2 nights under the stars of the southern hemisphere in a swag (a sort of individual sleeping bag/tent) with people who came from the USA, from Europe, Korea and Taiwan.

All around the fire, a bit like the ancient aborigines, about them an explorer once said, fascinated: “The natives were about burning… Burning ever burning: one would think were the fabled salamander race and lived on fire instead of water”.

Kata Tjuta
Kata Tjuta, pics from Mars
Kata Tjuta
Kata Tjuta
Mysterious legendary caves…
Uluru, Red Center
Uluru (and Italians) at sunrise
Kata Tjuta and Uluru
Friends on the road
Kata Tjuta and Uluru
BIG Friends on the road
Kata Tjuta and Uluru
Camping in the bush

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