eNewsletter | 4 | Itjanu
Greetings from all the staff at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Itjanu is the time of year where the country is very green after summer rain. This year itjanu has been very hot, with the park experiencing two weeks with temperatures over 40 degrees.
Message from Harry Wilson, Board Chairman
Australian Government Parliamentary Secretary Don Farrell and board chairman Harry Wilson exchange artworks to symbolise the handback of Uluru and Kata Tjuta to Anangu.
This year got off to a wet start at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park - our desert landscape is lush and green after so much rain! We're looking forward to our work managing feral animals, removing invasive buffel grass, conducting a burning program and looking after the cultural heritage and natural landscape of our park.
Our focus this year is also on improving the experience of visitors like you to our park. From April 1, all guides working in the park must have completed a Knowledge for Tour Guides course. We're also working on brand new signs to help our visitors better understand the people, culture, plants and animals of our World Heritage listed national park.
Anangu and park staff are working hard together to increase job opportunities for the local community, help our rangers achieve their conservation and land management qualifications and further the development of the Mutitjulu Community Rangers program.
I look forward to seeing you all in the park this year!
Chair, Board of Management
Handback festival | 26 October 2010
Tjukurpa munu manta kunpungku kanyintjaku | Keeping culture and country strong together.
On 26 October we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the handback of Uluru and Kata Tjuta to their Anangu traditional owners with a community festival. The day was an outstanding success. Locals, neighbouring communities, tour operators and visitors gathered at Talinguru Nyakunytjaku viewing area to enjoy a variety of exciting activities including Indigenous bands, inma (traditional dance), junior ranger crafts and market stalls.
But for many of us, the important part of the celebrations was taking the time to recognise our achievements over the last 25 years. We now look forward to continuing to work together for future generations.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta park staff and Anangu celebrate 25 years since handback.
Oprah visits Uluru
Global superstar Oprah Winfrey visited our park in December, meeting with senior traditional owners. She later told her millions of fans worldwide about her awe-inspiring experience watching the sunset at Uluru and her respect for local Aboriginal culture.
Photo: Oprah enjoys the sunset at Uluru | SDP Media
The sneaky appearance of a liru (snake) at the Cultural Centre sometimes surprises our visitors. To keep everyone safe from these beautiful but potentially dangerous reptiles, park staff have completed a snake handling training course. Joined by Ayers Rock Resort staff, we learned all about snake behaviour and how to handle snakes safely when removing them out of harm's way. Here rangers Mel and Macca handle a mulga (Pseudechis australis) snake.
Knowledge for Tour Guides
It has been two years since the Knowledge for Tour Guides course started and we've been very impressed by the many tour companies who have embraced this professional development opportunity.
From 1 April all guides working at the park must have completed this course. It's part of our goal to improve the experience of all visitors to the park.
If there are guides out there who still need to complete the training, there are more training sessions coming up. We're organising further training courses for Alice Springs or Yulara once a month subject to demand.
For further information on the course email email@example.com
Knowledge for Tour Guides - Anangu
We are very proud of two park employees, Vicky Jingo and David Rogers who are the first Anangu to complete the Knowledge for Tour Guides course. Vicky and David worked very hard to complete their certification.
They are now looking forward to helping other Anangu to complete the course. If you are in the park, look out for Vicky and David on the ranger guided mala walk or at the Cultural Centre.
Indigenous employees' conference
On 10 and 11 March our Indigenous employees travelled to Canberra to participate in an Indigenous employees' conference. At the conference the trainees met with Indigenous staff from across the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities and discussed mentoring, career development, recruitment and retention of Indigenous staff. For some of the trainees it was their first time on a plane! Our trainees made the most of their visit by sightseeing trips to the tent embassy, Old Parliament House and the National Museum.
Uluru's Indigenous staff joined other Parks Australia staff members at the Indigenous employees' conference in Canberra. They are pictured here with Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Secretary Dr Paul Grimes.
Rangers were out in the park tracking tjakura (great desert skinks, Egernia kintorei) in February. Tjakura are large lizards that live in underground burrows in family groups. They look similar to a blue-tongued lizard but have smooth pink skin.
Tjakura are a culturally important animal to Anangu under Tjukurpa (Anangu law). They were an important food source in traditional times and there are a number of dreaming sites dedicated to Tjakura across the Western Desert.
Tjakura are a threatened species so every two years the rangers monitor their population size. We are happy to announce that this year's survey showed the highest numbers of breeding burrows ever recorded! Rangers will now focus on protecting tjakura from predators and protecting habitat through controlled burning.
Maku (witchetty grub) at the Cultural Centre!
Visitors had the rare culinary delight of tasting a protein-rich maku (witchetty grub) when they attended a presentation at the park's Cultural Centre. Minyma pampas (senior women) went out to dig these grubs especially for visitors. Park staff then talked about the maku's lifecycle and how the senior women taught them how to look and dig for maku.
Millie Okai, the park's senior Anangu education officer, showed visitors how to prepare and cook maku on the coals of an open fire. Tjilpi (senior man) Hezekial Jingoona shared his story of growing up eating maku and how important witchetty grubs were as a staple and favourite food in a traditional diet. Maku are described as tasting similar to a nutty oily scrambled egg.
Our staff participate in regular Pitjantjatjara language lessons, as this is one of the languages Anangu speak. Assisted by our teacher Kathy Tozer and Anangu community teachers, park staff recently completed a nine-week introductory Pitjantjatjara course. Speaking Pitjantjatjara helps them to work side by side with
Anangu in the daily joint management of the park.
Pictured here, park manager Christine Burke delivers her final presentation in Pitjantjatjara, before everyone enjoyed a community barbecue.