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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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Create your own itinerary using the My Itinerary planner. Start by browsing and adding experiences to your itinerary to help you plan your days. Then select accommodation that best suits your style and budget before finalising your perfect Uluru escape. You can easily save your itinerary and come back to it at a later date.

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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 Uluru and Resort Postcard Flight (daytime)

Limited on time? Take to the skies on a 15 minute scenic helicopter flight that takes you past Ayers Rock Resort and onto breathtaking views of the desert landscape and the majestic Uluru, as well as Kata Tjuta in the distance. Enjoy this tour anytime throughout the day, excluding sunrise and sunset. Tour duration is 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.

Emu Walk Apartments

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.

Ayers Rock Campground

Ayers Rock campground is located only 15km from Uluru and offers cabin accommodation, unpowered and powered sites for caravans, campervans, motor homes and camper trailers. Campground offers modern camping facilities and a playground, pool, supermarket and petrol station.
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Bush Food Experience

Learn about Australian and local native bush foods with a tasting of seasonal seeds, fruits and spices. Your knowledgeable guide will describe how for centuries the Indigenous people used the bush for food.  You'll find out about the uses of certain plants, fruits, grains and spices and about traditional food preparation methods. Enjoy a cooking demonstration of a recipe using some of the ancient native bush ingredients. Tour duration approx. 45 minutes. 

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.

Bush Yarn

Welcome to the Circle of Sand, the Indigenous heart of Ayers Rock Resort. You'll become captivated by the yarns told by an Indigenous storyteller of Aboriginal history, culture and traditional techniques used on the land. Dependant on the season, learn about traditional bushtucker or an Indigenous man’s “survival kit” including weapons such as katjii (hunting spears), tjutinpa (clubs), kali (boomerangs) and miru (spear thrower). Tour duration approx 30 minutes.
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3 Day Best of Uluru Itinerary

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.

3 Day Culture Itinerary

Discover the magic of Uluru and immerse yourself in this cultural living landscape with this 2 night Uluru Cultural Itinerary.

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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