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Rock Tour! Part 2!

Kata Tjuta

We were up with the sun and those who had been awake in the early hours shared how they marvelled at how many stars had come out.


Unfortunately for me once the glasses are off I can't see anything so even if I had been awake I wouldn't have seen them. This also meant I didn't have to worry about seeing any ghostly apparitions during the night either.

Today we would be walking through the Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuta. The indigenous method of counting was only from 1 to 5 and then anything other that was called 'Tjuta' which means 'many'. So Kata Tjuta means 'Many Heads', and you can see why the Anagu people named it so when you look at the rock formation.


Kata Tjuta is a sacred mens area and indigenous women are not allowed to visit here. So why is it that female tourists are able to? The reason for this is because to indigenous eyes, non indigenous people are still considered 'children, no matter what their age. This is because they have not gained the knowledge and passed the relevant initiations into adulthood. So as I am considered to be a child and not a woman I am able to visit here. Women also have their sacred areas too which men are not allowed to go, such as areas for childbirth etc... One theory behind the separate women's and mens areas was a way of controlling the population. If there were too many mouths to be sustained by the land then the men and women would be separated until a time when the population could expand again.

This is amazing landscape to walk through and we were all keen to know more about how this area was formed.


We had another great lesson from Myles who used the sand, rocks and water to demonstrate the different stages.


Here's a little diagram and I ll try as best I can to remember how it went...


1) Millions of years ago tectonic plates pushed together to create mountain ranges, I forget the name but these were bigger than Everest so they were massive!

2) Over time these eroded away and the alluvial flow brought rocks and sediment down the mountain, depositing the heavier rocks first.

3) The alluvial flow would continue to carry the lighter sediment further away until settled in another depression in the land.

4) Then a sea encroached on the land, flooding the whole area and bringing with it more deposits. This created intense pressure and forming rock. When rocks are compressed together this creates conglomerate rock, and this is what Kata Tjuta is made of. When sediment is compressed together it creates sedimentary rock which is what Uluru is made of.

5) Over the years the sea retracted from the land after more tectonic movement pushed up the land creating the McDonald Ranges. This exposed the top of the rocks and over time the ground around them eroded to create Kata Tjuta and Uluru!

The movement of the ranges being made had a ripple effect on the surrounding land. As Uluru was closest to this activity it moved most and so the lines of sediment in the rock are at 90 degrees. As Kata Tjuta was further away from the activity it only turned slightly with its lines at 15 degrees, as you can see in this pic.


Lesson time over we stocked up on water again and Myles pointed out the Zebra Finches which you only find living in flocks near a water source.


So if you are lost in the outback keep an eye out for these guys as they could save your life!

We were then ready to tackle the rest of the Valley of the Winds walk...



Myles advised us to take the route where you climb up to Karingana lookout point, with the view behind us. It took a lot of will power to not turn round to take in the view before we got to the top...


....and it was worth it!


Tacking a well deserved break and snacking on some biscuits, we all took a seat as Myles explained to us about Ocre stone which can be found in various colours, green, white, yellow, red, even blue. When crushed up and mixed with water it creates a paste that was used as paint in the artwork that can be found in this area. Unfortunately when the artwork was first found tour guides would throw water at them to make the colours brighter but over time this has worn them away more, particulalry the lighter colours. We would see these paintings later around Uluru.



The bowl like object that Myles is holding is called a Piti, and is every woman's must have item. It can be used for collecting food, digging, scooping water, some were made big enough to hold a baby. Either carried on the arm or attached to a head piece and carried on the top of the head, it would always be to hand, much like an early form of handbag.

As we continued the walk you could see evidence from where spears would have been sharpened on the ground in this sacred area.


We learnt more about the hunting methods used here. The boomerang shape we are all familiar with would not have been used for hunting here, as this was used to hunt water birds. The returning Boomerang would move through the sky mimicking the way a bird of prey would fly, this would scare the water birds to fly lower into nets that had been set out for them. In this area the boomerang that is used is shaped like a big number 7, this version is not intended to return to the thrower but to tackle, break the legs or knock out the animal that is being hunted.

Another method would be to use a spear thrower to help throw the spear further and faster. The spears themselves are comprised of a long straight stick and a spear head made out of the poisonous mulga tree. The spear head is attached to the stick by using the long tendon which kangaroos have running down the back of their legs. This would be chewed to turn the tendon into a string that would be used to tie the spearhead on. During hunting the spear would get stuck in the animal such as a kangaroo who would hop away and the hunter would track it. The warmth of the animals body would loosen the tendon string releasing the stick part of the spear so it can be used again but leaving behind inside the poisonous spearhead. This would cause blood poisoning. Once the animal had died the hunter would need to cut out the poisonous wood and cook the meat so it was safe to eat.


Here are some of the symbols used to tell other hunters about the animals in the area and where they are...


The dark lines on the rocks in the above pic show where water would run down after it rains. It would be stunning to see these rocks when there is water running down them.

Can you make out the elephant?


After we had completed the Valley of the Winds Walk, we went to a great look out point where you could really get a feel for the size of Kata Tjuta.


And in the distance we caught her first glimpse of Uluru!


But more about that in the next post!


Posted by doyledan 23:07 Archived in Australia

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