After a slow start to the day Katie, Ben, Maddie and I set off to Ulura to visit the Cultural Centre. Richard had his nose in a book and Riley planned to do the same so we left them behind.
The Cultural Centre is located in the National Park and is only a short drive from the base of Uluru. It really should be your first stop when arriving at the park. We did have a short visit there the other day when we cycled around Uluru however Katie wasn’t with us and she really wanted to have a look at the art gallery.
The Cultural Centre is housed in a free form structure built from locally made mud bricks. You enter from the car park via the Tjukuṟpa Tunnel. Tjukuṟpa (pronounced choor-orr-pa) is the foundation of the Aṉangu culture. It is the creation period, their religious heritage and provides rules for behaviour and living together. It is the law for caring for one another and the land.
Tjukuṟpa refers to the past, present and the future at the same time. The knowledge never changes, it is always the same.
This knowledge is passed on from generation to generation. Some areas of Tjukuṟpa are only passed on to those who inherited the right to the knowledge. And, as with all knowledge, comes responsibility. The Aṉangu people are happy to pass on to visitors some of this knowledge and in return they ask that visitors respect their beliefs and take responsibility for looking after this special place. Visitors are particularly asked not to take photos of sacred sites and these are clearly signposted all the way around Uluru. There are lots of other places to take great photos.
The shape of the Cultural Centre buildings represent the two ancestral snakes, Kunyiya, the woma python woman and Liru, the poisonous snake man. Aṉangu creation stories tell the battles between these two helped create Uluru. Walking through the tunnel are displays that tell the story.
Once through the tunnel you can visit the Information Centre where there are further displays of the history of the National Park and how it came to be a national park, the flora and fauna of the area and a great video presentation about bush tucker, where to find it and what to do with it.
The Aṉangu owned and run Maruku Arts Store is next to that with a large area in front of it with picnic tables and chairs. Opposite is the Ininti Cafe and Souvenir Shop and next to that is the Walkatjara Art Gallery. This fascinating art gallery is also a workshop for local artists and there are often three or four artists at work at any one time. Both times we’ve visited there have been four women artists working.
I am fascinated with the style of painting using the tiny dots. It is painstakingly slow to create the paintings. Each painting tells a story and no two paintings are the same. The artists at work are more than happy to discuss their work with visitors and explain the story behind what they are working on.
There was a real difference between the quality of the art in the two stores at the Cultural Centre. The artworks in the Walkatjara Art Gallery are world class. This is, of course, reflected in the prices with paintings selling for $700-$1000 and anywhere up to $23,000.
Katie met one of the artists, Valerie Brumby, and was very taken with her work. Valerie even agreed to have her photo taken showing of her just completed works. This was quite an honour.
We bought delicious hot pies from the cafe for lunch and ate outside at one of the picnic tables. I had an emu, saltbush and sun-dried tomato pie. It was delicious.
Back in Yulara we stopped off to visit GOCA, the Gallery of Central Australia. This gallery located near the Emu Walk Apartments and Arkani Theatre showcases art from a huge area of central Australia and includes paintings, wooden objects, baskets, and pottery.
A quick visit to the IGA and the Uluru Store and we set off back to the campground. Once we drove in past reception I asked Katie to take a right turn and we drove up through the powered sites section of the park. This area is like a traditional caravan park with streets in rows. Some sites have concrete slabs and all have power and water. There are two amenities blocks and a laundry to service this area.
Between one amenities block and the laundry is a large flat are that is used by bus groups and there were two such groups set up with lots of kids eating their lunches at the many picnic tables. Behind them were rows and rows of little tents that they sleep in.
Back in the section where we are camped there are large lawn areas where people camp in a variety of tents, swags and we even saw a hammock strung up between two trees.
There are also powered sites in this area but not all of them have water. This area is more organic in shape and not in rows like the traditional area. If you drive right through this area you arrive at the overflow area which is just a big oval of red sand where you can camp with no power or water for $46 per night.
We really like our camp spot. We are tucked in with a big bush on one side so no one can camp on that side and we are backed up to the fence and, beyond that is bush, so no one is behind us either.
There are three amenities blocks in this area and each one has a washer and dryer. There is also a large camp kitchen close to where the tent sites are.
My only suggestions for improvements to the Campgound would be a couple of dump points. There is no dump point at all. The only dump point is 5km away.
The park could also do with a couple of playgrounds for the children. There are none. A bonus would be solar heating for the swimming pool. It would definitely get more use if it was heated.