Stargazing at Ayers Rock Resort: The Emu in the Sky
Ayers Rock Resort is an absolute paradise for stargazers. After all, it’s located more than 400km away from the closest regional town. That means very little air pollution, even less light pollution, and a vast, clear sky waiting for you to explore. Depending on the time of year, there are many different constellations visible in the night sky, each with their own unique story. Indigenous Australians have been passing down stories through the stars for generations, and we’re so lucky that some have been shared them with us. With spring on the horizon, we’d love to share one of our favourite Indigenous constellations with you — the Emu in the Sky.
The Story of the Emu
A few stories have been passed down about the origin of Emu in the Sky, the first of which begins during the Indigenous creation time. In this story, a blind man lived with his wife in the bush. Because he was unable to hunt, he would tell her every day to go out and collect emu eggs. And she did, but her husband was never satisfied, and he would get angry and tell her the eggs she gathered were too small.
While she was out gathering eggs one day, she came across tracks made by a very large emu. Thinking a very large emu might mean very large emu eggs, she followed the tracks to the emu nest. When she arrived, she found the emu and its eggs, and began throwing stones at the bird. Unfortunately for her, this only served to anger the emu, and it ran towards her, killing her.
Back in their camp, the blind man became worried about his wife. Hungry and concerned, he felt around the camp searching for food until he found a bush with some berries on it. When he ate the berries, he was able to see! With his newfound vision, he made spears and a woomera before setting off to find his wife. Eventually, he found her tracks — and the emu tracks — and followed them. When he came across the body of his wife and the large emu nearby, he speared the bird and banished its spirit to the Milky Way — where it remains.
The second story of the emu starts with two brothers who were out hunting. After much tracking, the brothers found the emu they were after, but they were in for quite a shock — the emu was much bigger than they expected. In fact, it was so big that one of the brothers got scared and flew up a tree to hide. The other brother, not afraid, hunted down and speared the emu. He then approached his brother and tried to coax him out of the tree. But he was still scared, and so he refused to come down. Frustrated, his brother cursed him to remain in the tree forever. And if that wasn’t enough, he also turned him into a possum. To this day he remains perched on his branch in the Milky Way, above the emu that scared him so much.
The Significance of the Emu
According to Indigenous legend, emus were more than just birds. They were creator spirits that soared through the skies above, looking over the land. These birds were incredibly helpful, so it makes sense that Emu in the Sky helped Indigenous people predict what was happening in the world around them. Depending on the time of year, Emu in the Sky is oriented to either appear sitting or running. And depending on the position the Emu was in, Indigenous people knew whether they should be out hunting for emus or collecting their eggs.
Where to See the Emu in the Sky
Defying traditional conventions, the Emu in the Sky constellation isn’t actually composed of stars, but rather the dark areas of the sky outlined by light. As mentioned earlier, it’s in the Milky Way. To see it, start by looking for the Southern Cross. The dark between the stars that make up the Southern Cross is the emu’s head. From here, you can see its neck, body, and legs forming between the Milky Way’s iconic dust lanes.
See the Emu in the Sky – And More – With Us
At Ayers Rock Resort, our Indigenous and non-Indigenous guides are passionate about the night sky, and are eager to share their knowledge of it with you. Whether they’re taking you on an Outback Tour of the skies, or discussing the galaxy as part of a dining experience, their knowledge will help you develop a better understanding of the universe, the planets around us, and the people who call this world home.
Is an unforgettable Uluru adventure written in the stars for you? Check out a few of our exciting sample itineraries for inspiration, and remember to share your amazing shots of the night sky during your stay with us using #ExploreUluru.