Uluru - a hypnotic presence
by Friederike Standhartinger
On our first trip to Australia in August 2002 we drove from Darwin to Uluru in a campervan. Usually, before I leave home, I like to read books about the place I want to go to. Among others I had read Bill Bryson's "Down Under".
Anyway, driving hundreds of miles to see a rock which we had seen on postcards, calendars, T-shirts and on the internet a thousand times already, at some stage seemed a stupid thing to do. There is an abundance of striking rocks in our home country Austria.
And yet, when we were finally looking at Uluru in the light of the setting sun, I remembered what Bryson had written:
"And then you see it, and you are instantly transfixed. There, in the middle of a memorable and imposing emptiness, stands an eminence of exceptional nobility and grandeur... Uluru is, no matter how you approach it, totally arresting. You cannot stop looking at it; you don't want to stop looking at it."
Well, of course, there were many tourists there, but I didn't mind their presence. It was a similar experience to when I first saw Leonardo da Vinci's "La Gioconda" in the middle of a crowd of tourists in the Louvre in Paris or the famous sunset at Cable Beach: When I finally turned my eyes from the spectacular sight I noticed that the beauty and serenity of Uluru (like that of Mona Lisa and the sunset at the Indian Ocean) was reflected on the peaceful faces of the people around me.
On the following day we walked around Uluru, which was an experience not to forget. As you draw closer it becomes even more interesting. The monolith is pitted, there are wavelike ribs, it's more irregular in shape than you would think from the distance. It's an awesome site, and we could understand that it is sacred to many people.
Why there is a chain handhold inviting people to climb the rock is completely beyond my comprehension. I guess in Europe there would be a public outcry, if some tourist board made it possible for tourists to climb cathedrals, churches or chapels.
Photo by Ernieski
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