During the April school holidays Year 10 students from Ellenbrook Christian College embarked on a yearly pilgrimage with Fusion Australia to Uluru. Here are some of their thoughts on the trip:
As you reflect on the pilgrimage, what would you say was highlight from your experiences.
My favourite reflection was Rock and Stream, the stream is someone who is more inclined to avoid conflict, whereas the rock is the opposite. I liked this reflection because it was interesting and it informed me of ways indigenous children were taught certain things. Indigenous people used many things around them to explain and teach, the rock and stream being one of those things. This reflection opened my eyes and basically told me there is more than one way to look at things, like its not just a rock there is more behind it, the rock can show you many things form different perspectives.
What did you learn about Aboriginal culture or Australia's history that you didn't already know?
During the pilgrimage I was constantly learning about myself, others and also the Aboriginal culture that we were consistently exploring. One thing that I learnt about Australian history that really stuck out to me was the fact that at one stage, the Aboriginal community used Uluru in many ways. The rock provided shelter, water, food, animals and community. It was so amazing to see where in the rock they took shelter and which places they learnt in. There were different caves in Uluru, each having their own purpose: the old people, the women, the men and the children all had separate caves which were all looked upon as sacred to that specific group.
During the pilgrimage to Uluru, I learnt many things about the Aboriginal culture, one of these being what Uluru actually was to the Aboriginal people. I never realised that Uluru had a meaning - I knew it was a rock that seemed quite important to the indigenous Australians, but didn't really know anything else. Through the Mala walk that we went on, I learnt about the different sections of the rock, the women, men and children's sections - and how it was rude for men to look at the women's section, and vice versa. Many people climb Uluru, and although it is not prohibited - the Aboriginals are not only upset about your choices of climbing the rock; but also are very sad when someone dies while climbing the rock, as they feel a great responsibility. An example that the leader of the walk gave us, was if someone comes to your house and goes outside and dies, you would obviously feel very sad for the family and for the person. This is the same way the Aboriginal people feel when many people die on Uluru.
On the last night in Yulara we took part in a water ceremony with the local Aboriginal people from the Mutitjulu community. What were your thoughts on this ceremony and how did it affect you?
The ceremony was significant because we were pretty much making a promise to the Aboriginal community that we will look after their land and treat it with more respect than the first white settlers did.
This was a very significant ceremony not only for us to see, but also significant in acknowledging the ingenious people and how they view water.
Tell us a little about your experiences at the Aboriginal communities that we went to in Mt Margaret and Warburton.
Both Aboriginal communities that we went to visit, were very different. It was interesting to note that the children at Mt Margaret all of them were cousins or family related somehow, and they all were such close friends and looked out for each other. No one was left out of the group, and they all were so good at sharing with each other. It was quite a rewarding experience, building relationships with people you don't normally meet. At first I thought the community looked scary, but after this it gave me more trust, and I thought that it was the nicest and friendliest place you could be. Once we got playing with the kids, they loved having us, and really enjoyed it. It was great for us to see them having so much fun, and playing together as one.
Why is do your think community so important?
As I learnt throughout the trip, community is such an important aspect of life. People can have all the willingness and talent in the world but they would never get anywhere without relationships and interactions with other people. The trip was absolutely amazing although it would not have been anywhere near as good if everyone didn’t form such a strong bond with each other. The people I shared the experience with, was equally as good as the experience itself.
What is the most important thing you will take away with you from this Pilgrimage?
I will remember and take away from the camp how the Aboriginals were treated when we first came and I will remember the water ceremony that we all participated in.
The most important thing I will take away from this pilgrimage will be to appreciate everything as not everyone is as lucky as we are to have nice houses to live in or comfy beds or access to clean water and toilets.
The pilgrimage has taught me a lot although the thing I will mostly take away is just the general outlook on life that has developed since the trip. I feel so grateful for everything I have and I am incredibly humbled by this life changing experience.
Share with us your favourite memory from the Pilgrimage.
It is hard to choose just one memory as I have so many. I really enjoyed the Prayer Vigil in Yulara (not just because we got to stay up to 12am) because we got to reflect on the past few days and also things that have happened in our past, and we just got to open up. I also enjoyed going to Docker River on day four.
This trip has been the best trip I have ever been on. I have many amazing memories from this trip but a few of my favourite ones would have to be Docker River as I thought we all connected there and really got to know each other and just bonded as a group - sitting around the campfire telling stories and roasting marshmallows and had no other distractions. The sunset at Uluru was definitely another highlight of mine as it was just amazing to see the rock change its colours and we just overall had a goodnight together. My last highlight for me was the first community; seeing the kids and when we brought all the circus stuff, balloons and face painting their faces just lit up and I had a blast hanging out with them.
My favourite memory from the camp is playing with the Aboriginal children in Warburton because it's amazing to see what little they have but when you bring something they haven't seen before its special how happy they become and how they welcome you into their tribe even if it is only for a little stay like us.