I spent a week recently amongst the red soil of central Australia around Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Watarrka feeling very small and insignificant amongst the expansive desert and these ancient and sacred monoliths.
Flying into the tiny single building airport and Yulara, the domes of Kata Tjuta and single expanse of Uluru can be seen rising from the earth and it is possible to get a sense of sheer size, but it isn’t until you stand in their shadow and see the texture worn into these rocks over thousands and thousands of years that you feel their power and immutability. At dawn, the rising sun lifts a blanket to reveal Uluru as a charcoal shape, which soon lightens to tones of reds and burnished orange as the light contours and pock marks the rock wall. The only sound to be heard is that of birds awakening with the dawn, and the near silence in such a desolate place only ads to the awe of watching the day begin just as the ancient Anangu did 60,000 years ago.
This colour will change throughout the day as the hot desert sun moves overhead, the air still and dry. Looking around, at first it seems like there is nothing there, but everything is moving, everything is alive. It takes a lot to survive out here, but plants, animals and people call this desert their home. Hidden amongst the shrubs and trees that dot the landscape are kangaroos, dingoes, birds, snakes and lizards and many varieties of desert dwelling mammals who have learned how to adapt to this harsh land. Dotted around the area, and mostly hidden from the view of the casual visitor, are communities of Anangu people, the traditional land owners who’s nomadic lifestyle has also adapted over the years to meet the demands of a modern world, but still live by the ancient laws of Tjurkurpa. These laws are told to new generations through stories of the creation time, of which the Anangu believe Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Watarrka are physical proof. It still surprises many people that there is such a huge part of this huge country that has English as a second language, or does not speak English at all.
There is a sense of permanence in this place, like nothing, not an asteroid, not even hoards of tourists, could destroy these landmarks. A sense that everything around them, the trees, plants and humans will all eventually wither and disappear, but the rock will remain.
For more images from this series, head on over to the main website.