Thursday, June 30, 2016

Majestic Kata Tjuta

While not very attractive, the fly net is essential here. The
little buggers were even heavy early in the morning!
One again we were up very early for a sunrise trip to see Uluru in morning light. This time a breakfast was served at the site. It was interesting watching the sun come up behind us and change the color of Uluru as it rose higher and higher in the sky. We could also see the moon in the western sky above Uluru. There have been a number of mornings where we have had the pleasure of seeing both the sun and the moon in the sky at the same time.

The morning sky behind us.
After breakfast, we took a hike at the base of Uluru to see some of the ancient cave paintings. During our drive around the base, we could see the area where you are allowed to climb the face of the rock. Due to high winds and heat, the climb was closed. Actually, the Aboriginal people do not like people climbing this rock as it has significant spiritual meaning to them and is a very sacred place.

After a short hike to see the sites at the base of Uluru, we continued on in the coach to the nearby Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) rock formations. Actually, they are 30 km away, but it was a nice ride. The air conditioned coach was a nice escape from the heat!
Uluru in the early morning

Cave paintings at Uluru

Our young guide explained how the
Aborigines find food out here.
Kata Tjuta is the Aboriginal name, which means "many heads" because the rock actually is comprised of 36 domed heads of red land. The tallest dome is about 546 meters high, making it 198 meters higher then Uluru.

One of the hikes was in the Valley of the Winds which is often closed due to too much wind or high temperatures. While we were they it was closed in the afternoons so we did the sunrise excursion.

Even though we were warned that "the Australian outback is teaming with wonderfully unique and diverse wildlife," we still never saw a kangaroo in the wild! We saw one Dingo, some wild horses, wild camels at a distance, but nothing else besides some birds. Actually, I am glad I didn't see too many creepy crawly things!
Interesting rock formations of Kata Tjuta.

Another view of Kata Tjuta.

The holes and markings are sacred.

While Uluru is a special place, we found Kata Tjuta even more so. This rock formation is also known as The Olgas. It seems that white man thought he discover these places and named them after kings, queens, governors, etc. 

The indigenous people have always had their own names and they are finally being used by the rest of the world. In the past few years, more land has been given back to the indigenous people and the government leases it from them for the national parks.

The benches in the park are natural wood from the area.
Kata Tjuta has even more very sacred sites deep in the caves and out of our view. We found it more interesting in both the Aboriginal stories and its physical characteristics. Kata Tjuta consists of 36 domes with the highest rising to 546 meters above the plain which is 198 meters higher than Uluru.

A beautiful reflective pool deep in the rock.
It was interesting to learn about the underground water source and how the natives knew where to dig with a stick to find it just below the surface. We also learn about the controlled burns they have used for centuries to control growth and nourish the soil to improve their next "harvests “of native plants. Just how did they figure that out?

The cave paintings were amazing. To think that some of them have been scientifically dated to 5,000 years and the rocks themselves dated to 1.5 billion years old! We visited one area that would be considered the “family room.” It is a cave where ancient paintings teach the stories of good and evil to the children. These are usually taught by grandparents. 

The indigenous people have no written language so everything is shared through stories. They are also identified by their language group as there are still over 200 different languages today. And the various groups do not understand each other's language, but the cave drawings provide a common way of communicating. This way they could get information from one another when passing through another group's area. At one time there were over 800 different languages! 

We were luck to have a relatively cool sunny morning so we could hike up to the Valley of the Winds before it was closed for the rest of the day.


Kata Tjuta at sunset.
Aboriginals also have a very special way of selecting a marriage partner based on maternal and paternal traits. In this way, they find a mate from another group that fits the match system so there is not a genetic issue of inbreeding. It is fascinating to learn about all of different cultures and how they figured out things we consider "scientific" today! They really are not primitive! They just have a different lifestyle.

The sunlight setting oan Kata Tjuta was stunning. Once again we had Sundowners and snacks while we watched the changing colors. Mother Nature is sooooo cool!

Dennis found a German speaking "girl friend."

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