I was born on the great Southern land known as Australia - my birthplace is on the land of the Wiradjuri people. A land; where life and culture has thrived for over 60 000 years and the legacy of this continues to grow. She might be considered the world’s ‘smallest island’, but with almost 8 million square kilometres there is a lot of space. Space for thinking, space for silence, space for f e e l i n g. Before colonization, there existed over 300 tribal language groups spread across the deserts, mountain ranges, inland lakes and rainforests that make up this land. Can you imagine the sound of that?
For my global friends, Australia exists only as a dream visit and through travel, I feel a great responsibility to share my birth country in a respectful and real way. As a non-Aboriginal person, it continues to be a complex and very sacred journey of learning. I am guided by the incredible spirit of generosity of those Aboriginal friends, mentors and storytellers before me. I encourage you to learn more about this for yourself and I’ve suggested some resources below. Today, I want to share my visit to one of Australia’s most iconic symbols and places of spiritual significance... Uluru.
On paper, Uluru is a mystery. A quick google search comes up with some fast facts and a sunset photo. Considered over 500 million years old she is an ageless beauty that rises some 800m high, West of the Simpson Desert. A world Heritage site, she commands hundreds of visitors every day. The images are impressive, but to see that with the human eye – to take in that great size and feel that desert air on ones’ skin... I want to write about that.
The F l i g h t And so I found myself like an excited child, seated on the wrong side of the plane with my mother and Aunty Sue. We were waiting for the 20 seconds before landing when the flight crew had said Uluru might be visible – I had my camera ready but I wanted to see her with my eyes first. She flashed past, a dusty track leading into the distance. We landed softly into the red earth of Anangu country. The red dust; soft morning breeze and a handwritten sign in the bathroom telling people not to wash their feet in the sink. We giggled and took a fresh breath of Northern Territories air. A rawness settled into my skin and something inside me stirred, I was listening.
Thinking back, it had been a challenging few months for me and I was bone achingly tired. I had just been through an intense period of anxiety after a massive life change and I was intent on spending these 4 days slowing down. This included much needed time away from technology and I had already switched my phone off before landing. I like to spend my first day arriving and rather than rushing to see the sites, soaking in the surrounds. And so while mum and Aunty flew into the skyline on a helicopter, I stayed very grounded – sleeping in the shade, swimming in the resort pool and escaping for a few hours in the nurturing cave like space of the day spa. As I was carefully wrapped in the ‘thousand flower’ body paste, I felt myself slowly surrendering – my heart beat, my body released. Like the ancients before me that used such rituals to honour the feminine, I allowed myself to be pampered like a queen. And that afternoon, I drifted around the grounds, taking it all in.
A curtain of native gum swaying in the breeze.
The red dust slowly exploding with each step, leaving a little stain on the skin.
The tiny movement of so much life – busy ants, native flowers in bloom and the voices of accented travellers around me.
And later that night, I laid under a blanket of stars that spread like a whispering galaxy in the desert heat. And then an ant bit me and I was forced to surrender inside, to bed.
The W a l k
Pre-dawn is my favourite. I love the blue light that pierces the horizon right before sunrise slowly wakes the land. We were up early and arrived in time for those first golden drops. Out of the car and a few steps forward, we finally meet.
Uluru commands her own definition of power, beauty + majesty.
I am listening to the wind, swotting the flies, feeling the soft sunlight. It is a beautiful feeling.
We crunch the dirt as we take each step. For quite a distance there signs informing cultural significance and no photography. What a treat to sensitively observe this and simply take it in, rather than feeling the need to record it. As we pass each bend I scan her surface. In some parts the earth looks raw and broken – in others soft undulating curves. She is so feminine.
We walk and drink water and walk. The sun continues to curve into the sky directly above us and we pass few people. There is the sound of birds, an occasional lizard and camp dogs in the distance as we pass Mutu-julu. My mother is a regular bushwalkers and sets an impressive pace. Part observation, part meditation with the occasional stop to soak in the silence – we are connected in the beauty of this moment.
The sun basking face of a lizard monitor, as if waiting for us to find him.
A flowering bush alive with copulating butterflies.
Suddenly the crumpet like surface of Uluru rolls right down to the path. I have been watching her like a distant mountain and now, she reaches down to our feet. I feel the vibration of something living, pure energy. This moment will stay with me. We finish the walk with a birthday breakfast – celebrating my dear Aunty – and sit at a waterhole with a picnic of biscuits, cheese and day old croissant. With the late morning sun a shadow protects us from the March heat and her walls now a brilliant orange. We walk back to the car and reflect on the stories we have read along the way. The Dreaming speaks of the role of men, of women, of payback, of intuition and in one, the fierce power of a mother protecting her young. I remove my dust caked socks and finally give in to the midday heat. It is only as we are slowly driving away and she disappears around the curve of the road that I whisper to my mum and aunty... “it is perhaps the purest place on living Earth I have every been”.
In my experience, most travels start with a gut feeling. It goes right to the core, a descending calm and deep trust that the idea will happen. Some might call it intuition, have you had it?
In 2012 I set off on a grand adventure to travel the world. And so from one day of flying into the blue waters of Arafura sea and the blue skyline of Darwin and venturing North into the un-known, I have discovered that when we pursue new experiences perhaps the biggest learning is about intuitive living. About trusting onself to the make the right decisions, at the right time. It remains both a mystery and deep learning to me and I invite you to join me as I continue to write my story.