The Australian Adventure
Across Australia on a bicycle
October – December 2014
Exposed to the elements
I’m on the road towards Uluru. The red rock is also known as Ayers Rock. Two days ago I left the Stuart Highway to the west and have fought my way forward, against a strong headwind and in temperatures above 40 ° C.
There are only 30 km to go but dark clouds have formed at the horizon and the wind pushes them directly in my direction. First lightning flashes in the sky then then you hear the thunder. Single heavy raindrops fall and dry immediately as soon as they hit the road, so hot is it.
I decide to go into a small side track and pitch my tent in the bushes. It can´t protect me from the lightning but I feel safer and won´t get wet. The storm is now directly above me. Lighning is immidiatly followed by the crack of thunder. The wind shakes the tent, somewhere water comes in.
I’m scared but there is no more to do then waiting for the end. Finally the storm moves on, the rain decreases and I crawl out of my tent. I decide to climb a sand dune while the sun comes out again and bathes everything in golden light. In the distance I see the first glimpse of Uluru. It doesn´t look very big but clearly red and the departing storm makes for a dramatic sight.
Uluru and Kata Tjuta
“The tourist comes here with the camera taking pictures all over. What has he got? Another photo to take home, keep part of Uluru. He should get another lens – see straight inside. Wouldn’t see big rock then. He would see that Kunija living right inside there as from the beginning. He might throw his camera away then. “
Tony Tjamiran of the Anandu people
The closer I get to the rock the more I can understand its importance for the First People, the aborigines. It is a miracle of nature. Huge and red it rises vertically from the ground, the surface broken by millions of years of wind and water. I cycle around it, find a waterhole, touch the warm rock with my hands and take a break in a cave which has served humans as a shelter for thousands of years.
With no doubt a special energy can be felt at this location and I’m sure that even the tourists with the cameras in the busses can perceive it. It is the energy of the cosmos, which is in all things, connecting everything, and manifests itself particularly strongly here. For this you don´t need to be an Anandu, you just have to look carefully, or better, feel and be aware of what is. After taking a picture close your eyes and perceive the place with your other senses.
Although we modern people live in cities of concrete and glass and modern technology is deeply intertwined with our lives – at places like this it becomes clear how much we are part of nature, part of the phenomenon of life. The longest period of our history we humans have lived in harmony and respect with nature and were deeply connected to our environment.
“Our spirituality is a oneness and of interconnectedness with all that lives and breathes, even with all that does not live or breathe.”
Mudrooroo, Aboriginal writer
The first people have been (and some still are) deeply connected until white men reached Australia. They lived as hunters and gatherers, were experts of the desert. They knew how to find water, knew every plant and animal, made predictions about the weather through watching the behavior of animals. But what is especially important: They had a deeper understanding of the world. Like many other indigenous people in the world they see the world differently than we modern humans. What is only an object for us, like a stone or a tree, for them it is filled with life, with this all-flowing energy.
That’s what they call dreamtime. It is not a dream or the past but in fact an extended reality through more sensitive perception, by a higher consciousness. Not many first people live the traditional way of life anymore. Much knowledge has already been lost, many languages and traditions of individual tribes are already extinct, not all knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation.
“We do not own the land, the land owns us. The land is my mother, my mother is the land. Country is the starting point to where it all began. It’s like picking up a piece of dirt and saying this is where I started and this is where I’ll go. The land is our food, our culture, our spirit and identity. “
I want to spend the night at Sunrise Lookout Talinguru Nyakunytjaku. Later in the evening, after the tourists are gone, the atmosphere becomes special. I´m alone with the rocks, the trees and the stars but I don’t feel lonely at all. It’s one of those moments in which the illusion of being an inividual, the illusion of separation fades.
Normally we see ourselves and the world around us as two different things, we look out of our bodies like out of a window. But at this moment I feel connected to all that is. I just sit there and observe with all senses and I feel like a part of the whole, and that I belong to this place right now.
It is a spiritual experience and the effects last even the next day when I cycle to Kata Tjuta. It means many heads and they are large rock formations similar to Uluru. I do a walk through the Valley of the Wind and cycle back to Yulara the next day.
Yulara is the tourist village full of hotels, apartments, a huge camping area and a supermarket. 250,000 people a year visit Uluru. To save time many come by plane.
Sometimes I like to save time (and energy) too and so I ask two people in a car to take me and my bike back to the Stuart Highway. In three hours we race the track back for which I had taken three days.
My next destination is Coober Pedy, about 500 km away.