More than a Monolith: the desecration of Australia's sacred heart (SWC)

2년 전

She rises in the distance, still in the desert heat. Not a hint of sweat as the sun begins its morning beat. She is home here, nestled in the crevices of earth below. The curves of her profile back lit by the rising light, causing silver linings to trail her across her body. Her arc mesmerising, her silence impenetrable. Closer now, I stand at her feet. She turns and I see the scar. Its ridge running the length of the right side of her face, top to bottom. Puckered edges pulling at her skin. Rails following its length mark where it was stitched in place. Metallic remnants of her abuse.

I want to tell you that it makes her more beautiful for the story that is etched. I try to find this, the moment where this crooked line converts to wisdom that she gifts to all who come. It does not make her more beautiful, this ugly path left by men whose mistreatment is now carved into her. The dismissal of the sacred in order to feed a conquering heart.

I watch as visitors laugh and skid off her surface, grasping at the rails in an effort to stay upright. She does not move to eject them from mounting her and clawing their way up. I stand at her foot and read the notice from her custodians. The Anangu people who have been unable to protect her from the visitors taking what they please, leaving her bruised and worn.

“Uluru is sacred to our culture. It is a place of great knowledge. Under our traditional law climbing is not permitted. Please don’t climb.”

Climbers on Uluru. Photo courtesy of Kate Harding. Instagram: @katealiceharding_

I learn quickly that the Anangu recommendation to discover a deeper understanding of her by walking the base is unnecessary. She lets that be known, whispering secrets as I meander her twists and turns. She tells me as I try to look into a crevice that this is a place of men’s business and orders me to turn away. It is a force that I cannot control, I try to turn my head back - not to disregard her, but to test. My neck is held firmly in place by her will and her grace. She runs ahead to call me into caves and canyons of women’s business, inviting me to sit and stay. I feel my head swivel toward and away at her bequest. She tells me at each step what is and is not allowed. At the waterhole the silence is ushered in. When thoughts threaten to make their way out she gently presses her fingers to my lips, smiles and shakes her head. This is a place of no speaking.

The colours of Uluru reflected in the stillness of her waterholes

Where it is allowed I reach out and touch her surface, tentative, unsure of how she will react. Shaded by the early hour she is cool beneath my skin. I feel her heart beat the rhythm I have been walking. It enters through my fingers, tingles up my arms and into my bones. I laugh, pull my hand away. Tilt my head in question. Did I imagine that? Feel her playful encouragement, her open armed-stance. I reach out again, feel her pulse beneath my fingertips. Let it run through my body. I learn that she has been setting my pace. I feel her welcome me home, planting my skin in this land.

This is no ordinary rock, I think, as I traverse her edge. This rock is alive. The thought taps itself out over and over as she walks beside me, settling herself within the marrow of who I am. Ten kilometres of desert fades into her beauty. The heat dissipates in her power. Her attention feels personal, as though I am the only one to walk with her, despite the growing crowd.

I return to the base of her scar, watch people dwarfed inching up her sides. I taste salt on my lips. She has called forth my tears, shed for the desecration of the sacred. She has tried to throw these violators off over the years, rescues required. Sometimes deaths. Yet still they come.

I had been clear before I set out toward the Australian Outback that I would not climb Uluru as a matter of respect for the Anangu people. While I watch tourists ignore the notice and walk toward her anyway I begin to understand that she has changed this. I will not climb this rock because she is beautiful, she is sacred, she is alive. I will not climb her because she has just welcomed me and carried me around her edge. Before I left home I followed the story of whether the climb would be closed with interest, as I leave her, I follow it with my heart. A heart that is weighted with powerlessness to stop this endless stream setting out to win their prize of an Uluru climb.

The rich chocolate browns of Uluru's base walk

For thousands of years she was cared for and left to hold her place in the sun. In the last 82 years the disregard of her nobility has left an irreparable smear across the surface. The anger begins to burn as I head South toward home and encounter one after another who ask if I climbed the rock. As though she is a trophy to be held aloft. They tell me their stories of climbing with pride and look at me with disdain when I tell them she is sacred. They do not shrink back when I tell them that if they went to climb her then they missed the whole thing. That she is not merely a monolith.

News comes on the radio as I make my way. The Uluru climb will be closed, proclaims the one country station in this Outback void. I feel her joy and relief feather across my cheek, sent by the winds. Uluru is not a love that leaves you as distance expands. Hope burns that already diminishing climbing numbers will dwindle so that the closing of her in 2019 will be a non-event.

Uluru backlit my the rising sun

Months later I have a firm grasp on my naivete. I cannot count the number of people who have told me they are going to Uluru to climb her before she closes. My heart breaks as they speak for the footprints that will be left on her surface before she is finally allowed peace.

I am a white Australian. I have no cultural connection to this rock yet I have felt her heart beat through my fingers. I have felt her welcome me as deeply as she welcomes the people who have been her custodians across countless millennium. The scars left on her surface will never heal, they will always be a reminder of the way in which my people have disregarded the sacred sites of this land. I am asking you: please don’t climb. There is no mistake that there is a giant rock shaped like a human heart in the centre of this land. Walk around her, she has stories to tell and healing hands. Let her wrap around your body and pulse her rhythm through your feet. Let her bring you into her groves and cast her cool hand across the places that are disconnected from this earth. Let her bring you back to yourself. That is a story worth taking home.

Note: All images are my own unless otherwise credited. The photograph of the Uluru climb was kindly provided by Kate Harding: Instagram @katealiceharding_ . Pay her a visit, it was the only image of the climb on Instagram that I could find which did not glorify it. All words are my own except the wording of the Anangu people's request not to climb Uluru. This is last of my articles on Uluru. I will now be moving on to other travels and aspects of life, including a bunch of exclusive Steemit content. Feel welcome to follow along if you like my words and pictures.

This article is my submission for the @jerrybanfield Supernatural Writing Contest. and the @minnowhelper Writing Contest

!steemitworldmap -25.248501 lat 130.988207 long More than a Monolith: the desecration of Australia's sacred heart D3SCR


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I liked your dreamy writing style. It is almost like watching and thinking about a painting by Monet; Impression, Sunrise. I can't really explain why I thought about that painting while reading your piece. May be it is the impressionist images you were painting with your words... Regardless it is brilliant. May be there is a little room for improvement on your photographs. But hey, none of us are perfect, right?


Thanks for the feedback.


Your photographs were chosen to perfection.

Having visited almost 2 years ago to the day now I can certainly appreciate your wonderful story! Safe journey wherever you go.


Thank you so much.

You are a very talented writer and a nice person. The way you take care of your beautiful country is an example for many others. Reading this piece of poëtry reminds me of some songs of my favorite singer songwriter, your compatriot Xavier Rudd. You must be a fan of him :-)


Thank you so much. What a beautiful thing to say. I've now got Xavier Rudd playing in the background. I like it so far. I wasn't a fan but might be one now.


Oh you Will like it. Songs like “land rights”and “spirit bird “ are the ones were he stands up for the aboriginals.


Oh my God, you've made a new fan of his. I am so impressed. This dude is crazy talented. I am blown away. Thank you!


Yes he is crazy talented. I'm glad that you like it, and I can assure you, all his albums are pure class. You're gonna love every bit of it.

Great writer @onethousandwords...your story is very impressive:) thanks for sharing too!!! God bless..


Thanks so much. Very kind of you.

Your heart is a joy to follow.


Oh thank you so much. That is a lovely thing to say

The photos caught me. Beautiful!


Thank you. I wanted to try to show some different aspects of the rock so that is really encouraging.

  ·  2년 전

Nice place. Peace and love from Aceh, Indonesia. :)


Thanks. Same to you. Indonesia is high on my list of places to see

  ·  2년 전

Yes, come to Indonesia my friend.

I didn't know about this place! It's amazing, I think I will add it to my bucket list! thanks for sharing @onethousandwords


It is definitely worth a visit.


Thanks so much

You have an eye to capture photos, I like them!


Thank you. That's very kind of you to say.

This is really nice. I love what you are doing here


Thank you. I am so appreciative of your support.

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Thank you very much @onethousandwords for writing this amazing story and submitting it to SWC. I sent 12 STEEM directly to your account for your participation in the contest.


Thanks so much. I really appreciate that

Uluru is high on my bucket list. I am hoping to combine it with a drive on the Oodnadatta track through Willaim Creek, then through Mt Dare to Fink and finally to Uluru. Hopefully this year.
It is very true what you say, the majority of people don't get it. All they can appreciate is the visual experience, not the far deeper spiritual one. For them it is the same as climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge only Uluru is a lot more exotic :D . I guess the artificial world we live in today can be blamed for that.
Love your writing style. Very poetic.


Now see I KNEW I'd found a kindred spirit in you. The Oodnadatta track is on my dream list. I just got a 4wd. Uluru is remarkable. You will love it. Thanks for reading and for your kind words.

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Wow, you tell this SO well. Your posts are so amazing. I know I keep telling you this.

I did not climb her either when I was there. Seemed wrong.


And I keep thanking you because being new it is so helpful to have encouragement to keep posting. I just knew you'd be the kinda person that wouldn't climb her 👍

  ·  2년 전

Wow, Nice place. :)

A paradise!!!