Who are the traditional owners of Uluru?
The Anangu (pronounced arn-ung-oo) people are the traditional owners of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and other regions of the Central Western desert. They have a deep connection to the land (we're talking 60,000 years deep), and are one of the world's oldest living cultures.
The Anangu people are guardians of the land; they cherish, protect and respect it in line with traditional laws. Culture is strong and they continue to pass ancient stories and customs down through the generations, and hold traditional ceremonies at Uluru (which are closed to the public). They also do guided ranger walks around the park to share the significance of the land with travellers keen to learn.
Why is Uluru so important to the Anangu people?
Uluru and Kata-Tjuta are two of Australia’s most famous natural landmarks—but they’re so much more than remarkable rocks. For the Anangu people, they’re a place of deep spiritual connection. They believe the formations are physical evidence of Tjukurpa (the creation period) and the ancestral spirits who reside in the land. Tjukurpa ultimately guides Anangu belief systems, societal behaviours, and outlook on the world and life itself.
While most elements of Tjukurpa are only known by the Anangu and people who have inherited the right to sacred cultural knowledge, there are many stories attached to certain fissures, cliffs and caves to learn about.
What is the Uluru creation story?
The Anangu story of Uluru’s creation revolves around ten ancestral spirits. On the Mala Walk, you can listen to the story of the Mala (rufous hare-wallaby) people. The Mala travelled from the north to hold a ceremony at Uluru; the Wintalka men then came from the west and asked the Mala to join their ceremony instead. When they refused, the Wintalka men were angry and created a devil-dog spirit called Kurpany to destroy their ceremony. Look out for Kurpany’s footprints imprinted on the rock.
On the Mutitjulu Waterhole walk, you can learn about the story of Kuniya (a woma python) and Liru (a poisonous brown snake). The Kuniya travelled from the south east to leave her eggs at the base of Uluru. She then discovered that a Liru warrior killed her nephew while she’d been gone, so she went to the waterhole to avenge him with her digging stick. Keep an eye out for two deep cracks on the western wall where Kuniya struck and a large boulder which was Liru’s shield.
There are many more stories of ancestral entities who shaped the Uluru we love and know today. If you’re curious about visiting this incredible landscape to learn more about why it’s so sacred to the Anangu people, join us on an Uluru tour.