eNewsletter | 2 | Wariringanyi
Greetings from all the staff at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Wariringanyi is yet another busy season for park staff with numerous projects underway and a change in the weather patterns. The Anangu name, wariringanyi, for this time means cooling down, getting colder.
Message from Harry Wilson, Board Chairman
I want to tell you that the Board of Management has been extremely busy in the months since our new management plan was released.
We are working closely with tourism consultants Rick Murray and John Morse. We've had some great talks - with plenty more to come! Traditional owners are extremely positive about moving forward with new tourism experiences.
We also want to work closely with the tourism industry on your ideas. We hope for more interaction between local Anangu and the tourism industry.
The management plan creates a new era for Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. We're looking forward to great things in the years to come.
See you in the park!
Many of you will already know about the sad death of a man on the Uluru climb on Saturday 24 April. The 54 year old Australian suffered a suspected heart attack while descending the climb and despite the quick response of Uluru park staff could not be revived. Our deepest sympathies go to the man's wife and family. As always, safety remains a top priority for us. The rangers involved did an outstanding job in difficult circumstances - the man's wife was at the scene and has conveyed her thanks to Uluru staff for their quick response and subsequent offers of support.
Catch the new display at the Cultural Centre
A series of batik banners telling one of Uluru's most important Tjukurpa teachings - the story of Kuniya and Liru - is on display in the Tjukurpa Tunnel at the Cultural Centre until June.
It's all thanks to the Junior Rangers from the Mutitjulu primary school, who painted the story to share with children visiting the park. It's also part of the park's program to encourage the transfer of traditional knowledge to future generations.
To help transfer traditional skills and knowledge of Nguraritja (traditional owners) to future generations, upper school students wrote the Kuniya and Liru story on a series of batik banners so they could share it with children visiting the park.
To get started, the Junior Rangers gathered at Mutitjulu waterhole to hear minyma pampa (senior women) tell the Kuniya and Liru story in Pitjantjatjara. Back at school the Junior Rangers painted the story templates. With the guidance of senior women and Mission Australia staff at the Mutitjulu Respite Centre, they then painted the batik banners and translated the stories into English.
The story tells of Kuniya the woman python and Liru the poisonous snake. Kuniya's nephew was speared in the leg by a Liru warrior. When Kuniya came to Uluru and found her nephew she killed the Liru warrior. The main message is responsibility for your actions - in Anangu culture if you injure someone then you are responsible for looking after them and bringing them back to health.
Following the new-look interpretive signage at Talinguru Nyakunytjaku, we are about to update all our interpretive signs and maps. New signs at the Mala and Kuniya walks, the Kata Tjuta dune viewing platform, the Uluru base walk, and new plant identification signs will provide visitors with more information than ever before. We are working closely with Anangu to develop the concepts, text and design.
We have had more than 20 school groups visit the Cultural Centre park over March and April, with plenty more coming in May.
One lucky group experienced one of our bush tucker presentations, with the opportunity to try malu wipu (kangaroo tail), maku (witchetty grub) and tjala (honey ant) collected by Anangu women. Traditional owner Barbara Tjikatu demonstrated how to grind wangu nu for seed cakes and many of the students joined in to have a go. The students had a great time and said it was the highlight of their trip!
We're hoping to make bush tucker a regular activity at the Cultural Centre.
If you are bringing in a school group, please ring the Cultural Centre on 09 8956 1128 and book yourselves a free presentation.
And please come to the Cultural Centre at the beginning of your visit - you will enjoy the park so much more when you see it through Anangu eyes.
Anangu work projects
Our two workplace development officers, Terri Fallows and Josh Quarmby are working closely with Anangu to develop work projects that support the conservation of cultural heritage.
Bush tucker is just one - visitors of all ages have been delighted to connect with Anangu and try traditional Uluru foods. Other projects include rock art conservation, a native plants nursery, recording oral history, development of bush gardens and the Junior Rangers program.
Lots of work is afoot to upgrade facilities around the park.
Work has just started on the park's road network, expected to be completed by mid-May. We are resurfacing up to 20 kilometres of bitumen, rehabilitating the road shoulders, widening in some areas, marking the roads and installing new guide posts, road signs and fencing.
Other upcoming projects include rehabilitation work on some three kilometres of the north east walking track, an upgrade to the Cultural Centre and new safety signage at the base of the climb.
Talinguru Nyakunytjaku is receiving much needed walkway fencing, the Uluru ring road and bus sunset area have had fencing works completed and rangers and Anangu staff have installed bench seats at the car sunset area (see picture).
Marsupial mole survey
Senior Ranger Melinda Wilson, the Mutitjulu Community Rangers and Operational Rangers have just completed a yearly monitoring project for itjaritjari or marsupial moles.
This small, elusive marsupial is nationally endangered. Until now very little has been known about its abundance and distribution within the park, although scientists have long suspected that the park may be a 'hot spot' for the species. Using monthly tracking surveys to collect data in eight potential habitat sites, we're hoping to find out what habitat the moles prefer, how their behaviour changes in different seasons, and how many of them are living in the park.
We will now analyse the survey results and use the data to develop an ongoing methodology for monitoring the species.
Shield shrimp survey
Increased rainfall this year has made it possible for Senior Ranger Vince Wright and the team to find out more about the shield shrimp that survive in ephemeral puddles on the top of Uluru.
Shield shrimp are resilient invertebrates whose eggs are able to survive long term desiccation and exposure to the high temperatures at the summit. Once rain fills the puddles the eggs hatch and begin a new breeding cycle which needs to be finished before the water completely dries up.
Rangers gathered specimens of shield shrimp to send to universities for identification. They also surveyed the distribution and abundance, discovering good populations in all waterholes on the top of Uluru, with the exception of one large waterhole that contained a healthy frog population.
Tjakura (great desert skink) surveys are undertaken in February and March each year. Rangers count the number of burrows to get an idea of the number of skinks in the park. This year we saw a big increase in breeding burrows - up from 62 last year to 90 in 2010 in the survey area. This indicates that we have a healthy breeding population in the park and the existing habitat supports this species - great information to feed into our management planning work.
The e-ticketing system for the park has been postponed for a period of 12 months, but visitors can still purchase tickets at the entry station and through tour operators. We had hoped to roll out an online ticketing system early this year, however because of the technical complexities of the e-ticketing interface we were unable to guarantee perfect operation by 1 April. We have delayed implementation until the online system is ready for users - we will keep you posted as development continues.
News for commercial tour operators
The park is working with commercial tour operators on a number of changes at the moment.
The bulk ticket discount has changed to five per cent from 1st April 2010. This applies to all tour operators purchasing more than 100 passes at a time.
Commercial Tour Operator permits are currently being renewed by approximately 100 tour operators working in the park. Lots of tour operators are taking this opportunity to book in their guides for the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Knowledge for Tour Guides accreditation - an online course run by Charles Darwin University on our behalf. The training course helps tour guides understand the cultural and natural significance of the park so they can give visitors the best experience possible. It also contains important safety information, helping guides provide consistent and accurate safety advice.
From April 2011, the Knowledge for Tour Guides accreditation will be compulsory for all tour operators, tour guides and drivers working in the park. For more information on the course please contact us on 08 8956 1100 or go to learnline.cdu.edu.au/tourism/uluru. A handbook is available to help - you can buy a copy for $10 from the information desk at the Cultural Centre. It contains a huge range of information about the park and is a great resource for tour guides.