Friday, June 5, 2009
A Walk Around Uluru
The next morning I took the shuttle out to the starting point for the trail around Uluru as planned, even though it was overcast and misting, I decided to go ahead. I started out and enjoyed the peace and quiet, the stunning views and, of course, I took lots of photos.
I met only very few people as I walked along, and I thought about how lucky I was walking right there, in cool weather, which stayed dry most of the time. Such a different experience than what most people have - I didn't have to deal with the pesky flies which is a plague most of the time out here, and it was actually pleasant to walk in the cool air, no worries about heatstroke in this weather. Several places water was trickling down the steep groves of the rock face. It is one of the most important water sources for the whole region's aboriginals, and I was surprised to see how comparatively lush the vegetation around the rock was - so different than what I had imagined.
I finished the walk in about 3 hours, and went over to the café at the Visitor's Center where I had a nice hot lunch to warm up on, before going over to find out where to meet for the painting workshop.
It had started raining, so they had had to move the tables for the workshop inside, but soon we were all gathered around a couple of tables - we were about 8 or 9 students - all women, except for a boy, who was there with his mother and sister.
Our aboriginal instructor spoke no English, so we had an interpreter - and she was originally from Japan! I found that quite funny, but there you have it!
She had actually come to Uluru to be an English/Japanese interpreter, as there are many Japanese tourists coming to Uluru - and she had befriended the aboriginals and slowly learned to speak their language. Apparently it is not too different in structure from Japanese, as it is also a "flower" or "picture" language, not like our western languages with nouns, verbs, etc.
Anyway, after a short introduction to the aboriginal culture and language we were busy painting our paintings using the symbols that had just been explained to us, so we could paint our stories! It was so much fun, I loved it! The dots are mainly used for decoration, but the signs and symbols have meanings, and tell a story. Sometimes they are more like information signs, sometimes they tell mythical stories, it all depends, and often they do both at the same time. The aboriginal storytelling is quite complex and has many layers, I learned. The time flew way too quickly, and soon it was time to wave goodbye to our instructor and her partner, who had started to open up a bit, showing us a few dance moves from a traditional dance, and showing us his painting which he had just finished. He spoke a bit of English, and they were both just so delightful!
I wish I could have taken photos, but it is not allowed, and of course I respected that. Many of the sacred places along the base walk are also off-limit as far as photos go, and there are certain stretches along the road where there is no stopping or photographing, because it is a sacred site.
It had been such a delightful day, and when I drove home with the shuttle in the late afternoon we actually saw a couple of waterfalls because it had just rained!
I had befriended a German woman during the painting class, Claudia, we were driving home in the same shuttle, so we had a chance to chat.
When I got home I carefully placed my wet dot painting on my bed, so it could dry - and then I headed over to the bar at the Lodge, to warm up with a glass of red wine. I sat with a couple of ladies from Tasmania - Peg and Bev - they had cornered the spot close to the heater, and they kindly invited me join them. After all, Tasmanians and Danes are practically related due to the marriage of our crown prince Frederik to Tasmanian Mary, who is now our beloved crown princess Mary!
Peg and Bev had ordered pizza and insisted I share with them - so very kind! When I wanted to pay my share they would have none of it! They were delightful to talk to, and I enjoyed their company!
Just as Peg and Bev were leaving, Claudia showed up, and we had a great time talking about travel and life in general over a glass of wine while we listened to the lone entertainer who played there every evening - all the Australian ballads you can imagine!