“Uluru (Ayers Rock) …”
Living in the Outback provided interesting adventures beyond the saltwater crocodiles that resided in the Roper River.
For whatever reason that escapes my mind, the Piper Cub on St. Vigeon’s Station was used exclusively for work purposes. We never flew it around Australia to see other parts of the country. (In retrospect, a terrible loss of opportunity!)
A particular weekend when I was antsy to go somewhere, we had a surprise visit from a pilot friend, another German fellow, and like our good friend at Roper River Settlement, his name was also Dieter. We distinguished between the two as Dieter J. and Dieter K.
Dieter K. had purchased a four-seater plane and ran an air taxi service in the Territory. He also gave private flying lessons in Darwin. He’d drop by to spend a night or a weekend with us whenever he was in the Roper River area.
When Dieter K. heard I wanted to see Uluru, he offered to return another weekend and fly us there in his plane. My sighting of Ayers Rock, as it was called then, looked like the photo above. It was late afternoon and the setting sun lit up the world’s largest monolith, 95 stories high, making it look alive, like a prehistoric animal slowly crawling across the desert floor. It’s a rock considerably taller than the Eiffel Tower. An incredible sight! When asked about it, I usually provide the Aboriginal explanation that it’s a giant pebble half buried in the desert sand.
According to stories passed down through countless centuries, Uluru was formed by Aboriginal ancestral beings during the Dreaming. The Anangu people, whose culture may date back 40,000 years or more, believe their ancestors created the landscape around Uluru as they traveled across the barren desert. The giant pebble is an important spiritual site for the Aboriginal people. Many caves, overhangs, and crevices in the monolith have preserved beautiful rock art painted centuries ago.
Besides the Anangu people, scientists find the site important for the study of geology. They estimate its creation to 500 million years ago when the area was covered in water, and over time shifting tectonic plates served to form the monolith.
In addition to rare species of plants and animals, the Uluru region is home to camels. First introduced to Australia in the mid-nineteenth century, they have survived and have served many purposes over the years. When we visited Uluru, we also went to Mparntwe (pronounced mm-BARN-doo-uh) where we encountered quite a few camels, and that’s the topic for next time.
Note 1: The term Dreaming refers to the time when the land, animals, and people were created by ancestor spirits. These beings also made particular sites sacred and left clues to tell the Aboriginal people which places were to be venerated. It is believed the ten ancestral spirits who created Uluru now rest there.
Note 2: The name Uluru means “a giant pebble buried in the sand.”
All photographs are used in an editorial or educational manner.
Aboriginal Art Work – Ayers Rock (Uluru) by rileyroxx is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Searching” by Fraser Mummery is licensed under CC BY 2.0
My blog about Australia is based on recollections of my life in the Outback as a young adult.
My own photographs of Australia are not only limited, but they are also old 35mm film in dismal condition. To make the series more appealing to the reader, I supplement with photographs that are similar to the experiences and locations I’ve described. I’m often dependent on pictures from the public domain and Creative Commons.
Note: Names of some people have been changed to protect their identity since this is not a memoir, but merely my recollections of Australia. The name of the cattle station where I lived was known as either St. Vidgeon’s or St. Vigeons. I use the first spelling in most cases, but on occasion, the second one comes in handy.