On Nov 18, we set out for a rock that rose from the earth as a bridge to ancestral realms. Uluru was a 5 hour car ride through the Australian Outback. This adventure had been a dream of mine since I was young and first learned of the sacred site. Much of the road trip was through remote ranch land with cattle, desert shrubs, dried creek beds, and puffy titanium white clouds for miles. The car ride grew hot as the Australian center reached 30 degree Celcius in mid November 2018. The extreme environment and remoteness kept towns to a minimum however truck stops, known as road houses, offered everything from snacks tourist gifts and gasoline, to camel rides and accomodations. Every road house we stopped at along the way had a farm with emus, camels, and stock, classically Australian. All sorts of travelers caravaning around the desert stopping at each oasis. HWY 87 connects Darwin (north) to Adelaide (south), and coast to coast.
Along our road trip, we saw the other landmarks surrounding Uluru. The first prominent feature was Mt. Collins which fooled all of us into thinking it was Uluru. Uncle Ned and I kept our minds occupied betting nickels and dimes on various math games gauging distances and applying the conversions from imperial to metric measurements. Mom got into the games too so we ended up passing nickels and dimes around the car until we reached our destination. We checked into the Emu Walk Apartments at the Ayers Rock Resort. You can imagine this being the only resource in hundreds of kilometers of the Australian bush, its incredible the Aboriginal people found a way to survive and thrive in the Australian Outback for many generations.
Uluru (Ayers Rock) is on Aboriginal land and owned by the Aboriginal people. The resort offers artist in residence programs to continue the cultural celebration of the monolith and magical mystical desert landscape. It is tradition to respect Uluru as a sacred site and feel the spirit of the place. This spirit speaks soothingly during dawn and dusk when the monolith glows a vibrant red for 15 minutes. We watched the rock change from orange, to vibrant desert rose, then deep burnt sienna red and finally purple with a desert backdrop, while a deep blue night sky curtain fell trimmed by a vibrant ocher horizon eager for the coolness of night.
Visiting the site and learning the ways of the aborigines was beyond magical. I felt connected to the land and culture on a deep level, I felt nothing other than humbled and grateful for the experience. As I learned the way of life of the native people, I was amazed how similar it was to the native ancestors of Colorado, North America, and the Pacific. The roles of men and women, tools used, stories told, all had a familiar to my own family. Of course, we are all made of sunshine. Sunshine makes the plants grow, the water flow, and the wind blow. Now it is time to go, on a magical journey through the rainbow. I have been amazed by the similarities and differences on the adventure. There seems to be a foundation for life to root and as it grows, the rainbow of diversity unfolds to sustain and provide a platform for the cycle to reside.
Point of reflection: Balance maintains the exchange of energy and growth providing boundaries, highs and lows while focus provides longevity. This beauty is cosmic yet common, and that’s what makes life extraordinary.
The soundtrack for the morning of Nov 19, was Bob Marley’s Legend to celebrate the world and all its beauty. The beauty of family and unity through love provides the endurance to experience the wonders of our elegant Earth. We burned the candle at both ends, waking up in the early morning sweet dew desert perfume and enjoyed the sunrise on Uluru’s east face. A lavish buffet for breakfast and then back to take a closer marvel at the cave paintings of the ancestors on the delicate sacred sandstone of Uluru. We took a short walk to a watering hole at the base of a waterfall that flows from the top of Uluru during heavy rains. Dry water lines were marked by a black iron oxide stripe flowing from above to a pool were saw crustaceans swimming and doing daily chores in their exotic home. These creatures looked like scorpions and must be ancient ancestors given their isolation and unique habitat.
As we departed for the car, there was a folk tale on plaques of a rainbow serpent who graces the watering hole. The story is as follows with credit to the Uluru National Park exhibit at the Mutitjulu Waterhole:
(Story on plaques)
“Wherever you walk around Mutitjulu Waterhole you are surrounded by the presence of two ancestral beings - Kuniya the woma python woman and Liru the poisonous snake man.
Minyma Kuniya the woma python woman came from the east near Erldunda. A bad feeling grew in her stomach - something was wrong. She had to go to Uluru. Kuniya created inma (ceremony) to connect her eggs together. She carries them to Uluru in a ring around her neck and placed them in Kuniya Piti.
Meanwhile, Kuniya’s nephew arrived on the other side of Uluru. He was being chased by a war party of Liru (poisonous snake) men from near Kata Tjuta. He had broken the law in their land and they were sent to punish him.
The Liru men threw spears at Kuniya’s nephew. One pierced his thigh and many others hit the side of Uluru. One Liru warrior, Wati Liru, was left to care for the injured python man. But he did not do his duty and left the injured man on his own.
Minyma Kuniya realized that her nephew had been injured and was not being cared for properly. She raced to Mutitjulu Waterhole and saw Wati Liru high up on the cliff. She called out to him about her nephew, but he only laughed.
Minyma Kuniya placed her wana (digging stick) upright in the ground in front of her. Kneeling down, she picked up handfuls of sand and threw it over her body singing and making herself stronger. She was creating inma (ceremony) to help her confront Wati Liru.
Kuniya moved towards Liru singing and dancing akuta - a dance step used by women ready to fight. Kuniya hit him once over the head with he wana. He fell down but got back up. She hit him a second time and killed him.
Kuniya then went and found her injured nephew. She picked him up and dusted him off and carried him to Mutitjulu Waterhole. She created inma and combined their two spirits into one. They became Wanampi, the rainbow serpent, who lives and protects the waterhole today.
This story teaches a traditional form of payback punishment - a spear to the thigh. The punisher, must then look after the injured person until they are well enough to care for themselves. It also teaches about women’s intuition and that a woman may use force to protect her children. This is a powerful story, Kuniya is a powerful woman.”
In less than 24 hours at Uluru, we had to turned around and go back to Alice Springs. Nothing other than poor planning contributed to such a short stay. For next time, a direct flight to Uluru would provide more time at the monument, Retracing our steps on the car ride home we grew closer telling jokes, conversation and taking care of one another on a 6 hour car ride. We stayed one more night at the Desert Palms hotel which had a lovely swimming pool to escape the heat. Reflecting on the three day journey through the outback, the local culture of Alice Springs, roadhouses, and Uluru brought a unique perspective to the Australian experience.
The next morning, Nov 20, Mom and I flew to Perth. We stayed at the Indian Ocean Hotel, a place mom had romanticized over for months. She liked the rosewood in the photo of the lobby. The Indian Ocean Hotel was in Scarborough, a seaside town with a hip sister city called Fremantle. These towns served as ports for trade in the Indian Ocean and had long sandy beaches with waves great for getting back to surfing. Unfortunately, the spring time winds encouraged us to explore the surrounding areas more than the beach, the water was too choppy for any rides or paddling out. We explored Scarborough and Fremantle where we made friends with Jason and Jessie. We were grateful to have their local prospective and they showed us around Perth and Fremantle. Our last full day in Scarborough, mom treated me to a two hour surfboard rental at Scarborough beach. I surfed the full time because it had been two years since I had been surfing and I wanted to make the most of a beautiful day and waves. Truthfully this tour was inspired by a dream of doing a surf tour in Australia and seeing my family. I enjoyed tumbling in the beginner sized ways and sandy beach with no sharks and the perfect Hurly 3 ml wetsuit.
The morning of Nov 22, mom and I moved to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Perth CBD (Central Business District). That afternoon, we installed for the RAW Oasis showcase at the Rosemount Hotel. To my suprise, I met Kristen Wehlow, RAW’s producer who helped organize Grace Noel Art’s Australian Art Tour. I was so excited to meet her in person and Perth’s showcase was a blast. Perth has amazing artists who impressed me with their talent and the guests were hot for the Chinese Zodiac and Dakota limited edition leggings. I will remember the Rosemount Hotel as one of my favorite venues of the world. First, there was free WiFi, crucial while traveling in a foreign country, there as food, an outdoor patio, and coves with beaded curtains to play video games, eat snacks, and chill. The art patrons of Perth were generous and encouraging of my artwork. Perth felt like the a version of Boulder the Southern Hemisphere, again it felt like home. Thank you to Barry Anderson and family for your sponsorship of Grace Noel Art’s Australian Art Tour!
The next morning, Mom and I shared our last breakfast before sending her to the airport. This is the point in the tour when we split ways and mom went to visit my cousin Julia and her husband in Melbourne before flying to the USA on Nov 25. Mom was so happy to be on holiday and relax in the wonderful Australian Spring weather. Together we saw things we could only image and read about. She was an excellent helper at shows, finding “S” hooks in Brisbane and taking enormous pride in her daughter’s hard work helped with sales.
Gratitude & Acknowledgment
This is the beginning of Grace Noel Art’s Australian Art Tour with RAW Artists and the production was called Oasis: RAW Australia Oasis. The tour was made possible by so many patrons around the world and RAW Artists. Thank you to those who made Grace Noel Art’s Australian Tour unite the world through a magical rainbow journey or art. Production of this tour began in Jan 2018, when I was preparing for my first RAW Denver show. During that time, I was preparing for exhibition also at My Hair Trip Salon, Spectra Art Space, Englewood Library, and Denver Art Society. RAW shows are ticketed at $22 and the artist must sell 20 tickets to reserve a spot at RAW. Once the Artist sells enough tickets, they receive one free RAW showcase nationally or internationally. Thank you to those who purchased tickets and art for the Feb 2018 RAW Denver Show which led to a successful March booking dates in Australia. Thanks to Kristen Wehlow of RAW for helping me book show dates. April onward meant airplane tickets, logistics, and promotion until a launch date on Nov 10, 2018. This tour premiered the Chinese Zodiac Four Element Series (metal prints) while the originals premiered in Denver Nov 1, 2018 with RAW Denver.
Thank you to my family for the foundation your provide, so much is made possible because of you.