Australasia | Australia | Northern Territory | Pitjantjatjara Lands – Cave Hill Tour – A long drive to a small cave
I had signed us up for a tour to Cave Hill because it had the description of “Your Aboriginal guides will introduce you to their chapter of the Seven Sisters epic and the deep, spiritual bond they have nurtured with the land. After lunch under a wiltja you’ll embark on your tour of the cave. The Yankunytjatjara Seven Sisters story is translated into English, and brought to life through the resonating artwork inscribed on the rock face walls.” I thought this was all going to be around the base of Uluru. Somehow, I missed the part that said “You’ll travel from Uluru through the Central Australian Desert in a custom-built four-wheel drive across the border into South Australia, stopping along the way for morning tea overlooking Mount Connor, the ancient flat-topped monolith which rises like an island from the depths of the desert floor.” This meant it was actually three to four hour drive, one way, to get there. NOT what I was expecting!
When the driver turned AWAY from the national Park, down the road that the driver from the airport told us was “two hours to the next intersection”, we knew we were in for a long day. We will not be seeing Uluru today, but we still have tomorrow.
That being said, it was not as bad as it could have been. Yes, it was two hours to an intersection. That intersection happened at Curtain Springs. We stopped for a restroom break, then we drove some more. Mid-morning we stopped and had tea outside the back of our four-wheeler at a spot with a view of Mt. Connor. Mount Connor, or Atila, is the third in a direct line with Kata Tjuta, and Uluru. From East to West it is Kata Tjuda, Uluru, and Mt. Connor. Too much vegetation for us to see the line from where we were, but I am sure from the air it would have been a sight.
We drove some more and saw lots of red dust. I saw three camels sitting on the side of the road. They roam free in the Outback, and fences don’t stop them. They go straight through the fences.
We finally reached an intersection with a sign on a car hood pointing towards Cave Hill. Our guide says the locals don’t have the same ideas about trash, waste and recycling that the white man does. This is proven to us by the numbers of cars on the side of the road, just left there. People strip off what they need as they pass by. This hood is being recycled in its own way as a sign.
There is no gasoline allowed in the Aboriginal town we are going to, only diesel. This is because they were having a problem with Aboriginals sniffing the gasoline fumes.
Our guide drops us off in a shelter near the caves, and he goes into the village to see if he can find us a guide. I guess they don’t plan this part, he just goes in and sees who he can get. He comes back with an older female. He speaks to her in a native dialect. I found out later if I asked her questions in English, she would answer in English. I guess him having to translate is for effect.
She leads us up one path, across a bunch of rocks, and finally to the cave. The main rock appears to be layers of a red shale like rock, instead of one big smooth rock. On the way to the cave she tells us her version of this song line. This story is filled with her teaching us native plants. Her story is that there were seven sisters, the Pleiades, and they were out gathering fruits together. There was a man, Orion, who liked the seven sisters, especially the youngest, and wanted to take one, or more, as a bride. Orion could freeze himself as different objects (mostly rocks) to sneak up on the sisters. This man has a belt around his waist, and an object hanging on his belt. In this storyline, the object on the belt is an extra penis. Rightfully, the sisters are scared. The extra penis has a history of getting him into trouble. As the girls run into the cave to hide, he takes the penis off his belt so that it wont get him into trouble with the sisters. The penis runs into the cave without him and scares the girls out the back of the cave before he can get into the cave.
I was not permitted to take pictures of the inside of the cave, but I found some here on Worldsurface with one of the guided tours. If you scroll down to painted circles (representing waterholes) on stone (the cave ceiling), that is what we saw:
So after our tour of the cave we walked back down to the shelter and had lunch, once again supplied out of the back of the jeep. After lunch the guide showed us some of her artwork to offer up for us to purchase (are all Aborigines artists?). Then a long drive back to the resort, with lots of dust to view.
When we got back to the resort we took showers and then went to a buffet dinner. The multi-culturalism of the guests is apparent at the buffet. Both the guests are multi-cultural, and the food. The guests seemed to consist of Japanese, Americans/English speakers and (what we thought were) Germans. [A couple of days later we decided the big group of them were from the Netherlands.] The food on the buffet started with a wonderful huge cheese tray, then onto the salads, breads, fruit, steamed rice, Thai salad, baby octopuses picked in a bowl, seafood in a shell, curry beef, roast beef, roast pork, kangaroo fillets, some kind of schnitzel, and lamb on a carving tray with mint jelly. The desert buffet had cheesecakes, vanilla ice cream layered with chocolate ice cream, orange poppy seed cake, plain pound cake and unsugared creams in both chocolate and plain. Then off to bed with full bellies for a good night’s sleep.
The tour I signed up for: