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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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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

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.

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.

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.
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Bush Food Experience

Learn about Australian and local bush tucker and how for many centuries local Indigenous groups would hunt, gather and prepare these bush foods. This will be followed by a fun cooking demonstration utilising a flavoursome Indigenous ingredient that you can try at home. Tour duration: approx. 45 minutes.  Days and times: daily, 1pm Location: Arkani Theatre, Amphitheatre area

Didgeridoo Workshop

Listen to the enchanting sounds of the didgeridoo. Yidaki, the traditional Aboriginal term for the didgeridoo, was discovered in East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia. During this workshop, guests are invited to try and play the didgeridoo. Note: Culturally, the didgeridoo is only played by males. We request your understanding and respect for Indigenous culture during this activity. Tour duration: approx. 45 minutes. Days and times: Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday at 3:00pm Location: Resort Town Square, Lawn Stage

Bush Yarn

Listen to the stories of Aboriginal culture and tradition where you will be shown men’s weapons that were used for hunting or women’s tools and techniques to gather bush tucker in the central desert. These sessions may also provide an opportunity to learn aspects about the local Pitjantjatjara language.. Tour duration: approx 30 minutes. Days and times: daily, 10am, 10:30am, 11am, 11:30am Location: Circle of Sand, Town Square Lawn
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3 Day Uluru Outback Adventure Itinerary

Discover adventure in the Australian outback over 2 adventure-packed nights. Witness an amazing sunrise over Uluru. Get an adrenaline rush on a Harley Davidson ride. Enjoy dinner under the stars at the award-winning Sounds of Silence and various guest activities. Tours in this itinerary requires a moderate level of fitness.

3 Day Uluru Budget Itinerary

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.

3 Day Family Itinerary

Discover the spiritual heart of Australia with this 2 night Uluru family itinerary including Astro Tour, Uluru and Kata Tjuta sunrise tour, Dot painting and various guest activities. The tours in this suggested Uluru Family itinerary are suited to families with children 5 years and over.
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