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How to Experience Indigenous culture in Uluru

Telling stories is one of the things that makes us human. We use stories to make sense of the world around us, which is why hearing the tales of another culture is such a powerful experience.

How to Experience Indigenous culture in Uluru

Friday, 23 February 2018

Guest post by Ute Junker

Telling stories is one of the things that makes us human. We use stories to make sense of the world around us, which is why hearing the tales of another culture is such a powerful experience: it lets us see the world through someone else’s eyes.

At Uluru, there are plenty of opportunities to hear stories that you may never have heard before - for instance, the tales of Kuniya the sand python and Liru the poisonous snake, and the battles they fought that literally shaped the lands around them. Those small holes stippling the face of Uluru, for instance? They are the impact wounds left by spears thrown by Liru.

Some stories are best told in the place where they occurred. Take a guided walk along the base of Uluru and you will find that every cave and every waterhole is the setting for a different story. Or sign up for a free bush yarn session in the resort’s Circle of Sand to hear tales of brave hunters and how they wielded their spears, their clubs and their boomerangs against their enemies.

Bush Yarn

The Anangu don’t just tell stories, they also paint them. The rock art of Central Australia recounts the stories of the Anangu as vividly as any medieval painted manuscript. One of Australia’s best collections of rock art can be seen on a day trip to Cave Hill. This little-visited site contains spectacular rock paintings done in startlingly bright colours, which recount the adventures of seven sisters chased by the hunter Wati Neru.

Alternatively, learn to paint a story yourself at a dot painting workshop led by a local elder. The session begins with an introduction to the various symbols used in Anangu art; later you will have the opportunity to create your own work.

Maruku Dot Painting Workshop

If there is one thing we all love to talk about, it is food. Want to learn more about the local bush tucker? Then join a guided garden walk that introduces you to the many different plants which the Anangu relied on for survival, or sign up for a bush food experience, which gives you an insight into the cultural side of bush tucker.  

Like many other aspects of Indigenous life, hunting and gathering food was divided along gender lines. Anangu women were responsible for a range of foods, including tjurata, or sweet foods– favourite treats included honey ants and the nectar of the honey grevillea – and mai, which includes all sorts of seeds fruits and vegetables. Prized delicacies included native pigweed and bush onion or tjanmata. The sparse desert vegetation offers a surprisingly rich harvest of fruits, if you know where to look: everything from quandong, or wayanu, to bush plum (arnguli) and kampurarpa, the desert raisin.

Bush Food Experience

What about the men? No prizes for guessing that it was their job to bring home the meat, which included treats such as sand goanna, emu and red kangaroo. And it seems likely that, sitting around the campfire after a good dinner, the hunters would regale their audience with the tales of the ones that got away.

About Ute Junker

Ute Junker worked as a magazine editor and TV and digital producer before running away to become a travel writer. She now gets to pursue her passions - including food, history, art, architecture and wildlife - across the globe.

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Uluru Bicycle Hire (Departure 1)

Take a morning ride around the base of Uluru by bicycle. The 15 kilometre self-guided journey is easily made within 3 hours and can be enjoyed by the whole family. Stop and explore the pure beauty of this spiritual and unique wonder of the world at your own pace. Once you have finished your ride, you are free to explore the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre. Includes return hotel transfers operated by Uluru Hop On & Hop Off. Children toddler seats and tag-a-longs available on request, subject to availability. Departure times: Return transfer from your accommodation by Uluru Hop ON Hop Off 7:15am December 7:45am February 8:30am March 9:30am October and November 10:00am September 10:15am 16-30 April and May 10:30am 1-15 April and June to August Duration approx. 4 hours

1 Day Hop On Hop Off Pass

This 1-day Hop On Hop Off pass gives you the freedom to explore Uluru at your own pace for one day. From sunrise to sunset, hop on and hop off as much as you like throughout the day. Additionally, this pass also entitles you to one bonus transfer to and from Kata Tjuta within the same day. Download timetable and map

15min Rock Blast (Daytime)

Launch off on a rock blasting adventure and take in the sights of Ayers Rock Resort and surrounding desert landscape as you make your way towards Uluru. Enjoy a panoramic view of the breathtaking scenery unique to the Red Centre.  Tour duration approx. 1 hour
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Longitude 131°

Located adjacent to Ayers Rock Resort, Longitude 131° offers an exclusive experience of the Australian Outback, rich in cultural heritage and history.

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Ayers Rock Resort's 4 star self-contained apartments: Only 20km from Uluru, the newly renovated 1 and 2 bedroom apartments are sheltered behind gardens of native trees. Lowest Price Guarantee.

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Ecology & Museum Tour

Wintjiri museum provides an educational display highlighting local history, Aboriginal culture, geology, flora and fauna. On this interpretative tour of the museum your Aboriginal guide will introduce you to the region's unique ecology and classes of mammals and fauna types not found anywhere else in the world.  Gain insights into the Anangu land conservation and management practices as well as a brief historical overview; starting 30,000 years ago with the Aboriginal habitation to the early European explorers, and the development of tourism at Uluru. Tour duration approx. 45 minutes.

Guided Garden Walk

Desert Gardens Hotel is famous for it's magnificent gardens full of local flora. Meet your Indigenous guide at the hotel's reception for a guided tour of these authentic native gardens and an introduction to the many different plants which Anangu relied on for food and medicinal purposes. Tour duration approx. 1 hour.

Mani Mani Indigenous Cultural Theatre

Mani-Mani Theatre Company’s unique sound, lighting, 3D effects and performance take you on a visually captivating experience transporting you to the ancient lands of Central Australia where the story of Walawuru, Kakalyalya & Kaanka unravels. The symbolic story of Walawuru, Kakalyalya & Kaanka is a tale of love, jealousy and greed. Expressed through ‘Mani-Mani’, the local art form of storytelling, this contemporary Indigenous performance brings to life the ancient ancestral beings Walawuru the Wedge-Tailed Eagle and his two wives; Kaanka the black crow and Kakalyalya the white cockatoo. Walawuru is happy with his two wives but little does he know Kaanka is evil and very jealous of the kind and caring Kakalyalya. The word ‘Mani-Mani’ comes from the Yankunytjatjara & Pitjantjatjara language of the Anangu people of Central Australia. Anangu people would often tell stories by drawing symbols in the sand using a stick taken from a branch of the Mani-Mani tree. The stories were often about ancestors, real events in history and the Tjukurpa creation time.
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3 Day Luxury Itinerary

Enjoy this 2 night Luxury Uluru getaway and experience the unforgettable Tali Wiru dinner under the Central Australian desert night sky. Watch the sun rise over Uluru as the desert awakens and join various Indigenous activities at Ayers Rock Resort. This itinerary is suited to couples or two singles wanting an indulgent Outback stay.

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Discover the best of Uluru and surrounds with once-in-a-lifetime tours and activities on this 2 night Best of Uluru itinerary. Witness the Field of Light art installation, watch as the sunrises over Uluru and Kata Tjuta and learn about Indigenous culture and traditions in Australia's spiritual heart.

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Explore Australia's Red Centre on a budget in 2 packed nights. Experience the magic of Uluru. Enjoy a dinner under the stars at the award-winning Sounds of Silence, walk through the Field of Light and discover various guest activities that will provide you with unforgettable memories. This itinerary is designed for those wanting a budget adventure.
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