Saturday, December 01, 2007

Ayers Rock, sturdy symbol of Australia

Australia is famous for its kangaroos and koalas, but they are nothing compared to Uluru Mount, the aboriginal name for the well-known Ayers Rock. Sleeping in the centre of the last continent, this sandy monolith is full of springs, waterholes, rock caves, ancient paintings and is especially born of a rich cultural past.

Sacred to the Anangu (Aborigines of central Australia), Uluru is surrounded by the myth of being formed by ancestral beings during the Dreamtime. The latter stands for the creation of the world and also for the link between past and present.Thus evidence can be found in the rock itself, its fissures, cliffs and caves. Moreover, various outcrops represent ancient spirits, and by touching the rock, an Aborigine can invoke this spirits and communicate with the Dreamtime.

According to an Aboriginal legend, this sandstone arose from the bloodshed of a particularly fierce battle between two tribes, namely the Kuniya (the rock pythons) and the Liru (the poisonous snakes) which put an end to the Dreamtime and marked the beginning of the Human Era.

The first human settlements dated back 10,000 years ago, when Australia was only inhabited by the Aborigines. It was first discovered by Dutch navigators in 1606 and conquered by Captain James Cook as a tribute to King George III in 1770. Colonisation ensued and native people were mistreated.

However, it was only in 1872 that the first non-indigenious person, the explorer Ernest Giles, saw the rock formation. One year after, William Gosse visited Ayers Rock and named it after the Chief Secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers.

In 1985, Uluru was given back to its traditional owners, the Yankuntjatjara and the Pitjantjatjara who transformed it into a park. Nowadays they still use it for rituals and ceremonies. Furthermore, it is the first officially dual-named site in Australia and so renamed : 'Uluru/Ayers Rock'

Ana-Alicia and Benjamin.

PS : If you want to, we offer you a little trip round Ayers Rock...

1 comment:

Simon Lab@ said...

Who would be able to pronounce "the Yankuntjatjara and the Pitjantjatjara" correctly ten times in a row??? If someone can do it, I buy them a beer. ;-)