All Under The Place, 14 August, Uluru
Up at the crack of dawn to film Johny and I camel treking (you’ll be pleased to hear that Chris the camel herder voted me best rider, resulting in Johny having to end the item shovelling camel poo as a forfeit). Then after that we spent the rest of the day in Uluru conservation area with Sammy, an Aboriginal traditional owner, who talked us through spear throwing and one of the 50,000 year old stories that make the site so important to Aborigines. We were closely followed by Grace, whose job it is to make sure that we don’t film any of the sacred sites at the base of the rock. These are caves and enclaves where male and female initiation rites take place, and since the site was handed back to the Aborigines a few years back they work very hard to stop these being shown on television or the Internet.
As Sammy drew diagrams in the sand to help explain the story of how the Blue Tongued Lizard Man formed one of the caves above us it began to sink in how this is by far the longest lasting culture on the planet, and I now realise how offensive the colonial name of Ayers Rock must be to them. Tens of thousands of years of songs and storytelling based around this rock and some European bloke turns up in the 19th Century, cops a look at it, and it gets popped down on the map and being in some way associated with him. It would be like an Aborigine visiting London and insisting we change the name of Westminster Abbey to “Barry’s Place”.