Today was the day we had all been waiting for. We finally got to see the much anticipated Uluru up close!! The excitement was building as we embarked on the Mala Walk around the base of Uluru. Our tour guide Steve (Also a member of our Basecamp team) took us through different sacred sites around the rock and shared creation stories with us.
We spoke of respecting the culture and this involved us not taking pictures in sacred sites, bypassing the climbing of the rock and the young men not laying eyes upon women’s areas. This was followed by a powerful reflection time at Kantju Gorge to connect with the land and its creator.
Our walk was followed by a trip to the cultural centre where we learnt more about the customs of the traditional owners of this land, meet some Anangu women completing dot paintings and purchase some special souvenirs.
After returning to camp to find a delicious lunch from our cook Joan, we set off across the sand dunes to the local footy ground for the festival the pilgrims hold for the local Aboriginal community. This festival was about bringing different communities together and had such a strong impact on us as pilgrims. We connected through games, face painting, nail art, dot painting, ballooning and footy. The local fire brigade also came down to provide us with a slip and slide which had the pilgrims and Anangu kids slipping and sliding together to stay cool.
After all the fun began to wind down it was time for the water ceremony, a real symbol of reconciliation between the Anangu and us as white Australians. The water ceremony was a show of hope that the past will not be repeated and we will accept the water gracefully from the traditional owners of the land with love and respect as opposed to the hatred that was used in the giving of water by our ancestors during colonisation.
Our long day was not yet over as we returned from the festival with the option of attending a prayer vigil with the WA and SA pilgrims. This was a safe space for us to reflect upon our journey and embrace our faith together.