Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Mala the hare-wallabies and Kurpannga the spirit dingo Pitjantjatjara-Yankuntjatjara, of central Australia 

A party of Mala, hare-wallabies, travelled from their country to the northwest of Mt Liebig to Uluru for an initiation ceremony. The route they followed became a line of bare rock on the northwest corner or Uluru. The women set up a separate camp with their children and foraged from it every day. As the ceremonies were taking place an old man was sent to make sure the women didn't see the secret, sacred, ceremonies, that were 'men's business'. It was believed that if the women saw the rituals it would break the power of the Ancestral Spirits.

The rituals were performed on a bare patch of ground, this ground had been transformed into the back wall of a deep, cylindrical cave on the side of the rock. The cave is considered so sacred that women are not allowed to even look in the direction of the cave when they pass. The  Wintalyka, Mulga-seed men, from the Petermann Ranges sent the messenger Panpanpanala to Uluru while the rituals were in progress to invite the Mala people to a ceremony. The Mala were asked to bring some decoration materials so they could use some of them. This made the Mala men so angry they sent back some white ash and a discourteous reply.

This made the Wintalyka very angry, so they asked their sorcerers to devise a revenge for the insult. Kurpannga, a giant, malevolent Spirit dingo was conjured and they sent him to Uluru. He looked like a dingo with not much hair and had very sharp teeth, and the singing of the sorcerers made him want to fight and kill strangers.

Kurpannga arrived at the Mala men's camp at midday when they were all asleep, except for Lumba, the old kingfisher woman, who was on watch. She warned them of the the approach of Kurpannga but he killed 2 men before they rest of the Mala escaped to the east with their sacred emblems. The camps of the participants in these events, the sites of their battles and deeds were transformed into boulders and natural features of the rock at the close of the Thjukurpa, the Dreamtime. The main camp of the women and children is a large cave on the northwest corner of Uluru. The erosion patterns are the transformed features of the women.

A long, curved line of caves in an eroded section of the northern and northwestern walls of the rock was the young men lying on the ground as the older men decorated them for the ritual. The bark brush used to apply paint in ceremonial designs is a now a dark water stain on the rock face.

The use of Ayer's rock as a tourist attraction has caused a lot of stress to the local people who still regard it as sacred.

Sources & Further reading

  1. Jennifer Isaacs, Australian Dreaming: 40,000 Years of Aboriginal History, Ed.  New Holland Publishers


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated: 30/09/2011
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