The Mysterious And Spiritual Kata Tjuta
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Kata Tjuta will blow you away. It’s almost like it’s cocooned in a giant mood bubble. As you pass into this “bubble”, a brooding mysterious atmosphere envelopes everything within it.
Enormous rocky domes peer down sternly, watching over Country and commanding respect. Kata Tjuta is spiritual, a living breathing soul. When you open your mind to the power of this place, it will take you in and fill you with awe.
A Tale Of Two Visits
We first experienced Kata Tjuta in 2006. Now, 12 years later we were back… although we had driven past here in 2010 on our way across the Great Central Road to the WA Goldfields.
In 2006 we arrived during a particularly hot October, with temperatures hovering in the low to mid 40s. Understandably, tourists were thin on the ground. We wisely chose to take on the Valley Of The Winds Walk early, before the sun had a chance to melt us.
This time around, we were visiting in cooler conditions. While it made the experience more comfortable, the downside was the absolute hoards of tourists. We emerged out of the Great Victoria Desert, having taken the Great Central Road from Laverton in WA across to the Red Centre. After days of being by ourselves, the full carparks and masses of people were quite a shock!
While the crowds changed the feel of Kata Tjuta somewhat, this is still an incredibly beautiful place to experience.
The Valley Of The Winds Walk
Walking up the slope from the carpark, we felt like this place was wrapping itself around us and drawing us in. You don’t so much walk through here as become surrounded by the atmosphere.
With virtually no one else around during our visit in 2006, the vibe was so peaceful and intense. It’s a feeling I’ll never forget. This time we re-traced our steps, resigned to sharing our experience with many other people from all over the world. The overwhelming mood amongst all visitors was one of respect. I think everyone was slightly over-awed by the majesty and power of Kata Tjuta.
These rocks are over 500 million years old, and ooze wisdom and serenity. The Anangu people live by Tjukurpa… the binding force, the laws, the creation stories, the moral and social code, their very identity, and so much more. It defines who they are.
One of the best explanations I’ve yet seen of what defines Aboriginal people can be found here. The Anangu people call it Tjukurpa, others have different names depending on where you are in Australia.
You need to understand this before you can fully appreciate why so little information exists on the cultural significance of Kata Tjuta. For example, the name means “Many Heads”, but there’s no explanation why. This entire site is an important men’s business site, so most of the creation stories are known only to those who have been initiated.
Further, the Anangu ask that any photos taken along this walk not be used for commercial purposes or shared on social media. Hence the lack of photos in this article.
On the walk, you’re surrounded by massive red rock domes. As you snake your way along, there’s bare and exposed valley floors covered in stones worn down over time… thickets of quite dense scrub clinging to unreliable waterways… steep climbs up beside enormous towering walls of rock… surreal views of rock domes from both lookouts… chains of small caves up the rock walls looking like footholds for giants.
And all the time massive rock walls surround you, pock-marked and lined with ribbons of grey and stains from watercourses which run down the domes when the rains come.
The Valley Of The Winds walk is one of those walks where you just have to find a shady spot, sit down for a while and take it all in.
Walpa Gorge Walk
Walpa Gorge walk is less popular than the Valley Of The Winds walk. This is a shame because it’s equally as good, just different.
This walk is the easier of the two. In some ways it’s even more overwhelming to the senses. The gorge lies between two almost vertical rock faces and gradually climbs, closing in as you go.
Again this is an important men’s business site. So be respectful of an ancient and complex culture.
The gorge walls seem impossibly tall, providing welcome shade and protecting rare plant species in this micro-climate. Keep an eye out for rock wallabies, who call the cliff walls home.
When you reach the end of the walk, a platform allows you to sit and take in the surroundings. Further on from the platform, green spearwood makes a perfect contrast to the deep red rock. The combination of the walls closing in and the dense vegetation gives this a slightly intimidating feel.
In the other direction, the gorge falls away and opens out to the desert beyond. You get a feel for the scale of Kata Tjuta here.
The platform is a great place to sit quietly for a while. The silence will overpower you. And when a gentle breeze makes its way along the gorge, you can almost hear the rock walls whispering.
Just like on the Valley Of The Winds walk, you get a strong sense of just how insignificant we are.
Kata Tjuta is less visited than Uluru. But in some ways, it feels more powerful. It has a presence and spiritual feel about it, something undefined yet clearly palpable.
Before you get there, take time to read some of the information on this website about Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. You’ll arrive with a better understanding of the beliefs and spiritual importance of this region from an Anangu perspective.
And while you’re there, spend some time just sitting quietly and taking it all in.
If you’re looking for ideas on tours or places to stay at Kata Tjuta and Uluru, TourRadar have a good selection.
Kata Tjuka is on Anangu Country.
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Any errors or omissions are mine alone.