All I could hear was damn drums! My head was filled with the sound of drums and a lone and hypnotic didgeridoo! Then the bass sounded just two simple notes……..boom……boom. I was hearing the sound of my youth and those two simple notes I played and many more every night for seven weeks with “Shane Howard and the Big Heart Band” back in late 1990’s as his bass player.
“Out here nothing changes, not in a hurry anyway. You feel the endlessness, with the coming of the light ‘o’ day…….Ya’ know that it’s a chosen place….Ya’ wanna sell it in a marketplace …….Well! Now wait a minute now!”
These were the lyrics that Shane Howard penned in 1981 or earlier now echoed in my head. Goanna’s frontman Shane Howard was truly inspired and now I understand this even more.
All I could feel was an overwhelming sense of awe. It didn’t make me feel insignificant, nor did I feel an immediate spiritual affinity. This is a place of great depth and beauty………of a history that is only spoken. There are only a few pictures left, the remnants of by-gone educators and the stories they paint to teach the young.
I have always wanted to walk through the desert in central Australia……it always appealed to me. I knew it was dangerous and I knew the environment was one of the most unforgiving. I wanted to understand how incredibly resilient and well adapted the local Anungu people really are.
Starting out early heading to the trailhead of the Mala Gorge walk arriving at approx. 8:30am. Allowing 3.5-4 hours for the walk, the Mala Gorge walk wasn’t part of the base walk. We decided to include it anyway……We were so glad we did too. As we exited the gorge trail and headed out, it already felt like it was above 30 degrees celsius. We had 10.6 kilometres (6.58 miles) to walk with minimal shade, however we were well prepared, so off we went into the rising heat.
The walk took us out into the desert a little way aways from the base of “The Rock”. It allowed us to see just how incredible this formation really was. The detail was just amazing. It didn’t matter how far you walked, you still felt like you weren’t moving at all…….and the caves….OMG the caves! The caves weren’t just little caves, they were twice the size of The Grande Grotto cave on the Island of Kalymnos……and we thought that was a big cave.
Occasionally we would come into a little oasis area where the foliage was thicker and the ground was greener. The rainy season had been good this year and the “Red Centre” was a little greener and better for it. You could see where the waterfalls ran as they left a black algae on the beautiful ochre coloured rock surface.
Walking here kept me thinking that as a young man 22 years of age, my father took his then fiancé on a hike on this beautiful and inspiring monolith. In 1959 they walked all the way to the top of what was then known as Ayers Rock. Frankie married Gwennie in 1962.
I am happy to say we have progressed somewhat in this nation and hiking to the summit is not frowned upon, but it is preferred that it not be summited. Back in 1959 it was not seen as disrespectful to the local Anungu people to do this.
I was now standing at the base of the path that leads to the summit of Uluru, our walk now complete, reflecting on a by gone era now defunct for some 41 years……but thats a whole other story.
To be able to see this remarkable place not only humbles you, it gives you a real connection with the land and with what I believe to be the “True Heart” of my country.