Uluru Bimble – Mala Walk
David, our guide, pulled up at the entrance gate, collected our passes and drove through the National Park - we got our first up-close look at Uluru. A very excited Beds. The coach stopped to let out those who wanted to do the ten point six kilometre base walk, the rest of us went to the cultural centre and then on to do the two kilometre return Mala Walk.
We read a sign: Warayuki is an Anangu men’s site and is sacred under Tjukurpa (traditional law). The rock details and features are equivalent to a sacred scripture; they describe culturally important information and must be viewed in their original location. It is inappropriate for images of this site to be viewed elsewhere.
Particularly senior men are responsible for these stories which are passed down from grandfather to grandson. In an oral culture, stories are family inheritance. Under Tjukurpa, cultural knowledge is earned and with it comes great cultural responsibility. Please do not photograph or film this site.
It is also disrespectful to the locals to climb Uluru. What visitors call ‘the climb’ is of great spiritual significance to the local Anangu. The climb is not prohibited, but Anangu ask as visitors to their land that you respect their wishes, culture and law by not climbing Uluru. The path of the climb is associated with important Mala ceremonies. Anangu believe that during the time when the world was being formed, the Uluru climb was the traditional route taken by Mala men when they arrived at Uluru. We watched as two ‘climbers’ came down. Numbers of visitors are monitored, when less than twenty per cent climb in successive years there will be a case for a total ban. We respected the wishes, plus, it is quite a steep path and many have died doing it.
The information board reads: Look at the landscape as we do and know these ancestors are still here. This is the right place to learn about this story because it happened here at this place. Look, take note of what you see. Stop and read the signs, have a think and take in your surroundings. This is a place of great history, an important place.
An insight into Uluru. The physical feature’s of Uluru are of cultural significance to us Anangu traditional owners. The caves and rock formations along this walk relate to the activities of the ancestral Mala (rufous hare-wallaby) people during the Tjukurpa (creation time). By sharing our knowledge, we invite you to look at Uluru through our eyes.
Our living culture: Tjukurpa is the basis of all our knowledge, law, religion, social structure and moral values. The Mala story is Tjukurpa. For many generations Anangu have visited this area and lived in it as the Mala people did. We continue to celebrate the adventures and battles of the Mala people through our stories and inma (ceremonies). The animals, plants and our people are the descendants of these ancestors.
This walk takes you into the peaceful Kantju Gorge. It has always been a quiet place of respect and is a good place to sit and reflect on what you are experiencing.
We were just so thrilled to be here and see up close the unique shapes of ‘the rock’.
No matter where we looked the shapes changed as did the colours.
Rock falls, swirls, layers, reds, simply amazing to see.
Itjaritjariku Yuu: In the Tjukurpa (creation time), the ancestral Minyma Itjaritjari (marsupial mole woman) built this shelter and yuu (windbreak). The yuu is the large wedge-shaped stone at the opening to this cave. The holes in the rocks above the cave have been tunnelled out by the Itjaritjari. Itjaritjari have lived here from the very beginning before Mala people arrived.
Itjaritjari are very secretive, spending much of their time underground, occasionally coming out after rain. They are blind, have soft, golden fur, a backward facing pouch and are small enough to fit in your hand. Using their front paws like spades, they tunnel horizontally just under the surface in a swimming motion. A unique creature that is perfectly adapted to living underground in sandy deserts.
Kulpi Nyiinkaku: Teaching cave: For many generations, Anangu elders taught nyiinka (bush boys) in this cave how to travel in this country and survive. Generations of grandfathers painted these pictures, like a teacher uses a school blackboard, to teach nyiinka how to track and hunt kuka (food animals). Nyiinka would then be taken into the bush to learn about country – where the waterholes are, where to find animals, where to source materials for their tools and weapons.
Cultural heritage: In the very beginning when the Mala ancestors arrived at Uluru, nyiinka (bush boys) camped here in this cave. A nyiinka is a boy at the important stage in life where he is ready to learn to become a wati (man). Nyiinka are taught by their grandfathers and separated from the rest of their families for this period. Traditionally this stage could last several years until a boy proved his hunting skills. When they weren’t out hunting, nyiinka stayed in this cave. This period has the same objective as high school: students learn a variety of skills and subjects to enable them to survive on their own as adults.
Rock painting: The colours come from a variety of materials. Tutu (red ochre) and untanu (yellow ochre) are iron-stained clays that were very valuable and traded across the land. Burnt kurkara (desert oak) provides purka (black charcoal), and tjunpa/ unu (white ash). The dry materials are placed on a flat stone, crushed and mixed with kapi (water).
Looking up from the cave – more of an overhang than a cave, we could see black lines - these are dormant lichen in old water runs, after it rains the lichen turn green and active for a short time until once again things dry up.
Kulpi Watiku: The Men’s Cave: The Mala people came from the north and could see Uluru. It looked like a good place to stay a while and make inma (ceremony). Men raised Ngaltawata (ceremonial pole) – the inma had begun. This is the senior Mala men’s cave. They made their fires here and camped, busily preparing for inma. They fixed their tools with malu pulka (kangaroo sinew) and kiti (spinifex resin). From here the men could keep an eye on the nyiinka (bush boys) in the cave around the corner and watch out for men coming back from a hunt with food.
More bimbling and looking.
This picture was taken to the right of the exclusion sign. Our eyes could see no difference in the vista from sacred to ordinary area, but clearly this landscape is known inch by inch to the locals and they place very special importance to the sacred sites, hence the signs with arrows – right, left or in one place both sides.
To the left of the picture above is Malu Puta: This is an Anangu women’s site and is sacred under Tjukurpa (traditional law). The rock details and features are equivalent to a sacred scripture; they describe culturally important information and must be viewed in their original location. It is inappropriate for images of this site to be viewed elsewhere.
Particular senior women are responsible for these stories which are passed down from grandmother to granddaughter. In an oral culture, stories are family inheritance. Under Tjukurpa, cultural knowledge is earned and with it comes great cultural responsibility. We were to learn that men’s business and women’s business are clearly separate, a woman learning of ‘men’s stuff’ could result in death. It pays not to be too curious in this culture.........
The Ladies Cave and their story of events: In the beginning, the Mala people came from the north and could see this rock. (For the Anangu, or Aboriginal people, the Mala or 'hare wallaby people' are important ancestral beings. For tens of thousands of years, the Mala have watched over them from rocks and caves and walls, guiding them on their relationships with people, plants and animals, rules for living and caring for country. Mala Tjukurpa, the Mala Law, is central to their living culture and celebrated in story, song, dance and ceremony).
They thought it looked like a good place to stay a while and make inma (ceremony). The Mala men decorated and raised Ngaltawata, the ceremonial pole. The inma had now begun. The Mala people began to busily prepare for their ceremonies. The women gathered and prepared food for everyone. They stored nyuma (seed cakes) in their caves. The men went out hunting. They made fires and fixed their tools and weapons.
In the middle of preparations, two Wintalka men approached from the west. They invited the Mala people to attend their inma. The Mala people said no, explaining their ceremony had begun and could not be stopped. The disappointed Wintalka men went back and told their people. Enraged, they created an evil spirit – a huge devil-dog called Kurpany to destroy the Mala inma. As Kurpany travelled towards the Mala people he changed into many forms. He was a mamu, a ghost. Luunpa the kingfisher woman was the first to spot him. She warned the Mala people but they didn’t listen.
Kurpany arrived and attacked and killed some of the men. In great fear and confusion the remaining Mala people fled down into South Australia with Kurpany chasing them. The story continues down south. These ancestors are still here today. Luunpa still keeps watch, but she is now a large rock. Kurpany’s footprints are imprinted into the rock heading towards east and south. The men who were killed are still in their cave.
This story teaches that it is important to finish what you start and that you should watch for and listen to warnings of danger.
Kulpi Minymaku: The Kitchen Cave: Women, girls and small children would camp here. The women would go out into the bush to collect mai (bush foods) and return to the cave to process them. The minymas (women) would teach the kungkas (girls) this knowledge so they could teach their children. This knowledge is still passed down today.
Be careful where you stand! Look closely at the cave floor and you will find smooth areas where seeds were pounded with round stones. The flour was then mixed with water and the dough cooked in hot coals to produce nyuma (flat bread). Our ancestors, the Mala people, brought their food here to share. For generations our people continued this tradition. Men would bring kuka (meat) and the women nyuma, fruit and other mai. People would collect their share, delivering it to their family camps and the old people’s cave. Food would also be sent to the nyiinka (bush boys) around the corner.
Tjilpi Pampa Kulpi: The Old Peoples Cave: This is where the old people sat. You can see the ceiling is blackened from their fires. During Mala ceremonies the men who were too old to participate would rest in this cave. They would make sure the women and children did not enter the men’s ceremonial areas.
Their spirits are still here, that’s where they are. They had their spears, weapons and tools with them and they would cook up malu (kangaroo) and other food their children and grandchildren would bring them. They would tell stories and teach the children not to go running off, to stay in camp.
The biggest surprise for us was seeing a gorge filled with water.
Kantju Gorge: Water is sacred. Shhh...... This has always been a quiet area of respect. This waterhole was the main source of water during the Mala ceremonies and for generations and generations our people and wildlife have depended on it for survival. We always approached quietly from the side so as not to frighten any animals away.
The Last Emu. We would hide in the trees and wait for a mob of kalaya (emu) to come and drink. When they left the waterhole we would spear the last one so the others would not be frightened of the waterhole in the future, they would just wonder where the emu went.
Along this walk you have been learning that every feature of Uluru has significant cultural meaning to our people. By sharing our stories, we are giving you an insight into how our knowledge is handed down. This is a quiet place to sit and think about what you are experiencing.
ALL IN ALL WONDERFUL TO BE UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
REALLY INTERESTING SPECIAL TO BE HERE