Friday, April 20, 2012

Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park Aboriginal Cultural Landscape

Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park is part of an extensive Aboriginal cultural landscape that stretches across the Australian continent. The park represents the work of Anangu and nature during thousands of years. Its landscape has been managed using traditional Anangu methods governed by Tjukurpa, Anangu Law. Within Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park is Uluru, arguably the most distinctive landscape symbol of Australia, nationally and internationally. It conveys a powerful sense of the very long time during which the landscape of the Australian continent has evolved. Far from the coastal cities, and with its rich red tones, for some it epitomises the isolation and starkness of Australia’s desert environment.

When coupled with the profound spiritual importance of many parts of Uluru to Anangu, these natural qualities have resulted in the use of Uluru in Australia and elsewhere as the symbolic embodiment of the Australian landscape. As a consequence, Uluru has become the focus of visitors’ attention in the Central Australian region, while other parks offer a complementary range of experiences.

The park is owned by the Uluru–Kata Tjuta Aboriginal Land Trust. It covers about 1,325 square kilometres and is 335 kilometres by air and about 470 kilometres by road to the south-west of Alice Springs. The Ayers Rock Resort at Yulara adjoins the park’s northern boundary. Both the park and the resort are surrounded by Aboriginal freehold land held by the Petermann and Katiti Land Trusts.

Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park is a cultural landscape representing the combined works of Anangu and nature over millennia. The importance of Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park’s cultural landscape is reinforced by the inscription of cultural and natural values for the park on the World Heritage List and also on the Australian Government’s Commonwealth and National Heritage Lists. The listed World Heritage values for the park are described in Appendix B to this plan, National Heritage values in Appendix C and Commonwealth Heritage values in Appendix D.

Cultural Values Aboriginal People of The Park
Anangu is the term that Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Aboriginal people, from the Western Desert region of Australia, use to refer to themselves. Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara are the two principal dialects spoken in Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park. Aboriginal people and their culture have always been associated with Uluru. According to Anangu, the landscape was created at the beginning of time by ancestral beings. Anangu are the direct descendants of these beings and they are responsible for the protection and appropriate management of these lands. The knowledge necessary to fulfil these responsibilities has been passed down from generation to generation through Tjukurpa, the Law.

There is strong and powerful Aboriginal Law in this Place. There are important songs and stories that we hear from our elders, and we must protect and support this important Law. There are sacred things here, and this sacred Law is very important. It was given to us by our grandfathers and grandmothers, our fathers and mothers, to hold onto in our heads and in our hearts.

Tjukurpa unites Anangu with each other and with the landscape. It embodies the principles of religion, philosophy and human behaviour that are to be observed in order to live harmoniously with one another and with the natural landscape. Humans and every aspect of the landscape are inextricably one. According to Tjukurpa, there was a time when ancestral beings, in the forms of humans, animals and plants, travelled widely across the land and performed remarkable feats of creation and destruction. The journeys of these beings are remembered and celebrated and the record of their activities exists today in the features of the land itself. For Anangu, this record provides an account, and the meaning, of the cosmos for the past and the present.

When Anangu speak of the many natural features within Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park their interpretations and explanations are expressed in terms of the activities of particular Tjukurpa beings, rather than by reference to geological or other explanations. Primarily, Anangu have a spiritual interpretation of the park’s landscape. In traditional terms, therefore, they speak of the park’s spiritual meaning, not just of the shape its surface features take.

Tjukurpa prescribes the nature of the relationships between those responsible for the maintenance of Tjukurpa and the associated landscape, their obligations, and the obligations of those who visit that land. The central attributes of these relationships are integrity, respect, honesty, trust, sharing, learning, and working together as equals.


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