Rock of Towering AntiquityJuly 15, 2014

"This rock is certainly the most wonderful natural feature I have ever seen."

On July 18, 1873, William Gosse took a different route for his thirsty camels. He was exploring the remote regions and the detour led him to his discovery of an iselberg, isolated yet standing out. He named it in honour of Sir Henry Ayers, then Premiere of South Australia. If not for lack of water, then someone might have stumbled into this large rock formation and gave it another name. But for the Anangu, the Aboriginal people of that area, they'll always call it Uluru.

Located in the southern part of the Northern Territory, Uluru is the main attraction of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, home to a large portion of plants endemic in central Australia. Twenty five miles to the west is Kata Tjuta, a group of large domed rocks not so different from Uluru. The latter is devoid of vegetation, which is part of its appeal - and mystery. It's the southern equivalent of Mount Olympus.

"The world was once a featureless place. None of the places we know existed until creator beings, in the forms of people, plants and animals, traveled widely across the land. Then, in a process of creation and destruction, they formed the landscape as we know it today. Anangu land is still inhabited by the spirits of dozens of these ancestral creator beings which are referred to as Tjukuritja or Waparitja."

Paintings are seen in the caves of Uluru, suggesting human settlement ten thousand years ago. More images on rock are found in Kata Tjuta. The aborigines believe these aren't created by human hands, and there may be some truth to it after listening to that legend about the rock being an inverted lake. There's more that this large sandstone can give away, which can only be discerned by looking at it. The place turns pink at dawn, revealing the richness. It turns orange at noon, making visitors take notice of the surroundings. Then that moment of stillness, when the stone becomes red at dusk.

Photography enthusiasts will have a field day, not getting enough of arresting pictures. But there are other things to check out. Punu abound in the base, their features resembling Anangu's forefathers guarding the land. The park has fauna of bats and lizards as well. Aside from the aboriginal community, stockmen live not far. One can chat with them, as they have their own unique story to tell. They may not have been there for long, but they make this destination special. The best time to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site is winter, as it's located in the Outback.

Uluru refutes any suggestion that Australia has a short history. One must gaze at the structure and its premises. Try to spend the day if possible. It's an Oz icon, where visitors will only the ever-changing colours of this humongous rock in the middle of nowhere. The image speaks a thousand words.

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