At the beginning of October 2017 we headed off an adventure like no other. My husband, daughter, 2 of Richard’s grand daughters and myself boarded the plane destined for Uluru. Flying into Uluru airport the squeals of delight from the children and a few from me, filled the plane. Straight away we noticed the change in the terrain, red soil, dry scrubs…such a change for us city slickers. WE couldn’t believe we were actually here!!!
We had a number of visits to Uluru, some words that came to mind “majestic, spiritual, ammmmaaazzzing.”We had a discussion about whether to climb Uluru, read what it meant to the Anangu people and made the decision not to climb it. We learnt about the caves, the art work, why some places were sacred and others weren’t.
It is truly a place of connectivity, where we felt “more Australian”. We spent our mornings out and about and our afternoons swimming, we visited the cultural centre where the girls assisted the artists in residence, chased ta ta lizards, attended bush tucker cooking classes, camel riding, visited Kata Tjuta/The Olgas. In the evening we would watch the sun set and observe the changes in the sky and the colours of Uluru, the stars, enjoying the silence..which with 3 kids is an experience in itself! We went to an Indigenous story time play about the Eagle and the Crow and their relationship. We were lucky enough to see Uluru with waterfalls, rivulets, the water holes full and brimming, we were ran around in our garbage bag raincoats, shoes off covered in mud, so excited that we were lucky enough to experience something that only 1% of tourists get to experience.
After all of our experiences it was time to meet up with Richard and his merry men (Les, Peter and Martyn) who had been following the Solar Car Challenge from Darwin, in Marla (at the 2016 census, Marla had a population of 100).
The traditional way we would organise a launch would be to book a venue, email out an invitation, make sure we have visual/audio presentations, have some champagne and canapés…not so in Marla. After being encouraged to see who was around, just knock on the doors, pop in and have a chat. We met a number of the locals, prominent business people, the Marla progress association and the regional disabilities and aged worker, the old fashioned way – face to face and a beer at the pub.
The locals in Marla also told us of a few sights we had to see and key people to talk to (Dave the TAFE teacher and former youth worker in Indulkana, Mimili school and Mintabie – a historic opal mining town that is being forced to shut down in 2019). While giving us a history of Marla, we discovered that the police, the local businesses, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the school of the air all use the Indulkana weather station. Unbeknownst to us the Bureau of Meteorology dismantled the original weather station in Marla, leaving no way for the locals to get an accurate reading of the weather, while this was not our original aim of the project we are more than happy that the data is being used and the weather station is somewhere that it is needed..a great investment in local community and services.
We stumbled across a herd of camels well they almost stumbled into us, wild brumbies, packs of remote dogs, wedge tailed eagles, goannas, stopping the car for a closer look. The children couldn’t believe their eyes and nor could we! The children will carry the feeling of the red sand beneath their feet, the Indigenous kids they played with, how the air feels in the outback, listening to what it is like to be the only 2 kids in town, learning about culture from the Indigenous artists, watching the sun set over Uluru, hearing the Indigenous people speak their language and trying to speak it back, understanding how far food has to travel, the red dust that you just can’t get out of your hair, walking around with no shoes on in the mud, creating a bond not just with each other, but our country too.
It is Richard’s intention that this project become inter-generational, that his grandchildren and great grandchildren will come here for these experiences…
I believe he has definitely laid a solid foundation.