Sunday, July 19, 2009

A trip down the Centre

We've just returned from a two week trip to Alice Springs, Uluru and several interesting spots in between.

Dusk at Banka Banka

I felt The Wide Open Road summoning me (Well not like in that song but a romantic one anyway) and I was so thankful to my wife for suggesting a trip to visit the Centre. At this time of year it's easy traveling and the air is cool, the sun sets early and you can live comfortably in the dry and the sand. The car packed, no need to shave... water only for drinking a book to read and fuel in the tank! (We had to burn it... we had to fly, maybe next time I'll ride a bicycle earn back some carbon credit)

At Stuarts Well we met Jim and a Dingo called Dinky who sang while my eldest bashed out some notes on an old piano.

Dinky the Dingo
(Dinky the Dingo)

(Tent in the Moonlight)

We made the great Australian pilgrimage to The Rock (Uluru). The great rock in the centre of Australia! It is beautiful... We stood amongst the croud watching sun set against the rock, Tourists, cameras, wine and cheese, traffic... haste, waste, diesel generators day and night, a rat race relocated temporarily to great outdoors and safely transported back to their luxuriant lifestyles conveniently each night, an icon?

Uluru sunset

In the morning we set off with the kids for an early morning walk at The Rock Uluru, a visit to the Cultural Centre and a chance to feel the awesomeness of it all in a context not expressed in the theme park tourguide of Australia!
Yes... we discovered that big rock is of some, cultural and religious significance to the local people. Could it ever be doubted? on a wide expansive and predominantly flat landscape eye's had, throughout the ages, been turned towards Uluru for reasons more personal and sacred than just to say 'Yep! I've Done Ayers Rock...

So anyway we're off to walk around the rock and the first thing we see after the mish/mash of tourist, keeping up with the bloody Joneses, 4X4 luxury vehicles parked all over the joint, is the sign pleading with people not to climb The Rock. Directly behind the sign (You virtually have to walk around it to get there) is the gate leading to the path that people take to climb The Rock! And so there I stood with my wife and kids, slightly more aware of the cultural significance of the rock and therefore also becoming aware of a culture and people who actual belong together with and of it. And we're watching the hoards stride straight past the sign, and we watched them proceed onward, upward. Along the thin trail that leads directly to conquest, mastery and usurpery of, The Rock! Not sure how to explain the duel significances of this icon to my eldest kid, who kind of caught on; there were some inconsistencies between what we'd learned and what we were watching...
When is the right time to explain concepts like dispossession, or the true nature of conquest, defeat, and the perceived right of the Victor to defile the sacred possessions of the vanquished?

We Don't Climb
(Sign before the gates of Uluru)

March of the ants...
(Like ants, streams of people ignore the request not to climb)

So we stood and looked at one of the most significant places on the Australian continent. A place that truly defines the relationship between the original guardians of the sacred law of this land and those who came after who claim ownership. Taken by right of a perversion of 18th Century International Law and qualified only on by a false asumption of an empty land...
We saw that spot with such clarity. The Line in the Sand literally dividing respectful visitors from the usurping hoards... At the base of Uluru, after you pass the sign I mentioned previously, is a gate that separates the Rock from the walking tracks and car park before it. From my perspective the line was clearly marked. Every foot that stepped through the gate and entered onto the rock was a decision made! And those that deliberately turned away was equally a decision. Are we here to conquer? Are we here to take, to hurt or to Sin against the people of this place? Or do we respect the sacredness of a place we know virtually nothing about and have little legitimate claim to? Far Out I was there for only 15 or 20 minutes and the thoughts are still haunting me. Maybe we are only a nation of Grave Robbers who don't even have the decency to admit to the truth of our occupation...

We continued along our walk and I simply affirmed to the kids "We Don't Climb on This Place".
(Later I heard the news that it is planned to close the rock to climbers... A survey in the Centralian Advocate indicated that the vast majority are opposed to closing the rock... They showed photos of those who participated in the survey. None appeared to be Aboriginal.)

We headed back to Alice and Saw the Camel Cup.

Camel Cup Alice Springs
(A camel running, I presume they call it that... )

Visited friends, met strangers, drank a decent cup of coffee or two, read some Australian History with the blinkers off, had an awakening, mourned my loss and celebrated my gains.

Headed up to Gem Tree and saw some coloured stones. Shared readings with my wife of a book by an Anarchist that freed my mind, liberated my soul and set the wheels in motion for more change.

We slept in the cold air and snuggled for our lives, sang songs, I didn't shave and we all noticed the beginnings of carefree(Dread) locks in our hair! We checked out some great art, and paid homage to the humble beanie. Thanks mum for that wonderful hand knitted hat you made me on the road one year ago. The dry red sand aggravated fissures in my calloused feet and I suffered them gleefully.
Eventually we headed back to the north and rehydrate in the thermal pools of Mataranka and Bitter Springs we made it home just on dark... Hooray for the freedom, rejoice life.

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo

We're all Taking flight, and leaving tonight we've got to fly or we'll drown!