Ayers Rock Ramblings

By Bernie Bell

There’s  a book called ‘Ayers Rock’ by Charles P. Mountford, about…………….. Ayers Rock.

Uluru Ayers Rock

Uluru Ayers Rock

I know it’s properly named Uluru, but the book is called – ‘Ayers Rock’, so it makes sense to stick with that title. The way that the aboriginal people see the rock itself, and associated stones and landscape, puts me in mind of maybe how the ancient peoples in Orkney  viewed Hoy Hills, and the stones and landscape.

Comet stone B Bell

Photo B Bell

I know the sites in Orkney are sometimes separated by water, and the ones in the area of, and including Ayers Rock, aren’t, but there appears, to me, to be some similarities in approach to the landscape.

It would be easiest, if you’re interested, to have a look at the book yourself.

One thing I will ramble about, a bit, is the cave paintings.  In this book, there are some copies of some of the cave paintings.  If you look at them, they’re pretty in-comprehensible.  Not the straight forward, ‘man-with-a-stick-chasing bison’ sort of thing, just loads of squiggles and roundy bits and lines, very like if you look at some of the carved stones at Newgrange and Knowth, at certain sites on Orkney, and elsewhere.  BUT, the difference is, today, there are still Australian aboriginal people around, who can explain the stories on the stones.  Whether those ‘stories’ are creation myths, or calendars of the movements of the sun and moon, or whatever, the stones, whether painted, or carved, are telling ‘stories’ – passing on information, but the Australian aborigines are still there to ‘tell the tale’, and, unfortunately, the ancient peoples, aren’t.  What we need is a ‘Stig’, of the dump, that is, not the strange being from ‘Top Gear’!

Here are a few ‘snippets’ from the book, to catch your interest…

“The mythical stories of the Pitjandjara link them closely to their environment.  They do not consider themselves the “Lords of Creation”, but part of creation itself.  The great creators of the animals, the birds, the plants and the topography of the tribal lands, were also the progenitors of the aborigines who live in that country; the same life essence (kurunba) left behind by those creators to vitalize all living things also provides the aborigines with vitality.  The aborigines believe that they are an integral part of the life around them, no greater and no less than any of its component parts.”

“These great creators of the aborigines’ land, were, at the same time, the forebears of the tribe; so that there are aborigines of the carpet-snake, hare-wallaby, sleepy-lizard, marsupial mole, willy-wagtail totems, and so on, all of whom believe that they are the direct descendants of one or another of the Tukurapa heroes of the long-distant past.  Since everyone claims descent from these mythical beings, and each, in turn, lives in the land created by his immediate progenitor, it follows that every man, woman and child is linked, both by myth and genealogy, with his tribal country.”

“Ollier and Tuddenham also point out that the rock, owing to the spalling of small flakes from its surface, is continually sloughing off skins of equal thickness.”

Shedding its skin, just like we do!  A living rock, indeed.

They have a belief that rubbing or touching certain stones and boulders, ‘awakens’ the life essence, with differing applications; to improve hunting, to help reproduction, both for people and animals.

This is one  of the bits relating to that……

” Other informants claimed that the carpet-snake stones at Kuniapiti were somewhat different from the increase stones elsewhere, for example, those of the sleepy-lizard.  They explained that before the men went out hunting on a hot morning, they rubbed the Kunia stones, chanting a special song.  This ceremony, called luru-bunangi, would wake up the life essence, Kununba, of carpet-snakes in the stone, which, in turn would go out and cause the carpet-snakes to leave their holes and wander about, thus making it easier for the hunters to catch them.”

People still have the impulse to touch and rub the stones, today, at Ayers Rock,  Brodgar/Stenness, and many similar places.  The Australian aborigines, are still living it, in many ways.  Or, they were, when Mr. Mountford wrote his book, as it’s now a Reserve, and a tourist destination – can the people still inter-act with the Rock itself, and the stones and places around it, as they used to?  Consider what often happens in the name of conserving a place – it often loses its original purpose – people aren’t ‘allowed’.

Maybe of interest, maybe nothing new at all.  It was new to me, and ties up so much, I think, with the sites and stones, here.  I believe that the Hoy Hills, over-looking all, were/are very significant indeed.

Hoy through Stenness Stones B Bell

Hoy through Stenness Stones B Bell


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