Sunday, 15 March 2015

Learning about Uluru - Australian History

Over the past few years we have been learning about the history of our country. We have looked at different events by an Introduction to Australian History, learning about Anzac Day and learning about Australian history through films. But ever since I was a young child I had always wanted to travel to the heart of Australia and visit Uluru. I'm not sure what it was about the ancient rock that captivated my curiosity, possibly the history, but my interest in this sacred aboriginal site rubbed off on my children too. My interest became their interest! So last year we were lucky enough to visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and what an amazing learning adventure it was.

Travelling to Uluru was in itself an adventure. Road trips through outback Australia can see you drive for hours and hours without seeing anything or anyone. You battle intense heat, wildlife and massive road trains but you will see some of the most spectacular scenery that is only found in the outback.

History through Picture Books
Our learning about Uluru started with a collection of beautiful picture books that have helped us build our understanding of the place, the history, the environment and the people who belong to the land. Some of the books that we have enjoyed are:

The People
Before visiting Uluru, we researched as much as we could about the traditional owners, the Anangu, of Uluru. We talked about how Uluru was returned to its traditional owners and read Nyuntu Ninti: What You Should Know to helped us understand the impact colonisation had on the Anangu people. We also learnt that the Anangu have two different language groups, Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara, like many indigenous groups, Australian English is their second  language. The Indigenous Australian culture is one of the oldest living cultures in the world. Isn't that amazing!

The book, Nyuntu Ninti: What You Should Know, is based on the award-winning documentary Kanyini. The Kanyini documentary can be viewed in full on YouTube. It portrays the history of the Anangu people and how they lived in harmony with each other and their land around Uluru. Their connection with all that is around them is seen clearly in this documentary and you start to understand the vital role their land and spirituality plays in shaping their identity. The documentary also gives a very personal account of how their identity, their way of life, their spirituality and their lives were slowly taken away from them after colonisation. It gives you an wonderful glimpse into the world's most ancient living culture and how it has struggled to survive to this day around Uluru.

Our first look 
So with books put away, we set out on our adventure. As we drove closer to Uluru, we could see from a distance the ancient rock form towering over the vegetation. This sandstone rock is HUGE and stands at 863 metres high.

Respecting the Anangu People
We drove right to the base of the rock and it was then that we realised how incredibly big it really was. Although you are allowed to climb Uluru, we chose to respect the traditional owners who requested that their sacred place not be climbed. Standing at the base of Uluru you experience a quietness as you take in the enormous size of this place. Words cannot describe how humbled I felt standing on this sacred indigenous land.

Dreamtime Stories
At different places around the rock, there are signs that help you follow the requests of the traditional owners. In certain places you are not allowed to photograph the rock and you must stay on the path to not destroy the vegetation or walk on their sacred land. The different information boards that are placed around the rock help you gain a better understanding of its significance to the Anangu culture and their dreamtime. It is in these beautiful quiet and cool places around Uluru that you can't help but imagine what like would have been like for the Anangu people walking, hunting, feeding and living as one with this amazing place. Their life was perfect.

The Ancient Art Work
The ancient artwork and the stories they tell are just breathtaking. Permission is given, at certain places around the rock, to photograph the artwork. When you see the artwork, you can start to understand what it would have been like for the first Australians wrote their stories and recorded their history on the rock and lived in harmony with each other and their land.

The Magic
We had read about the changing colours of Uluru but to actually see this take place was breathtaking. This beautiful sandstone rock changes colour depending on where the sun is in the sky and what side of the rock you are on.

But it is in the late afternoon when the real magic comes alive. Just before sunset, we found ourselves a spot to sit and watch the colour of the rock change. Not to be overlooked, this beautiful black kite flew over us right on sunset.

The glorious sunset over Uluru was just amazing and beautiful. A darkness creeps up from below the rock and spreads to the very top all the while changing its colour. You can't help but be captivated by this ancient, sacred rock of the Anangu people. This is their land, their home, their place and we were really honoured to have experienced and seen this amazing part of who they are.

Find history in your local area
I would like to encourage you all to find the history and the stories in your local area where you live. Learning about history doesn't have to come from a textbook. Look around you, search for the stories, the people, the artifacts, the events that have shaped your community. Keep history learning fun! 

You can find more information, resources and links about Australian Aboriginals on my pinterest board. Be sure to keep following my blog and facebook page as we are continuing our learning this year about the first Australians. 


  1. Love this :) Uluru is on our to-see wish list so this was great to read, thanks!

  2. Thanks for sharing, great post and Goodluck

  3. It sounds like quite an adventure and very interesting. We don't live in your neck of the woods, but Uluru has been on my bucket list for years. One day, we will also come and visit. :) Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.
    Deborah from MommyCrusader