Tag Archives: local culture

Sacred rocks and pebbles

If you have ever gone to Australia and you missed visiting Uluru then you need to go back. For me it was the best – people rave about the Opera House – meh! It’s a building – and a pretty nice one at that – but nature is the most amazing architect. It is a hassle getting out to Uluru – or Ayers Rock as it used to be called. You have to fly there because – guess what? – it’s in the middle of nowhere.

You have seen the pictures I am sure – as had I. Nothing prepared me for the “feel” of the place. No wonder the aboriginal people of the area regard it as extremely sacred. I felt like I had to whisper when walking around the base of the mountain. And as you can imagine legends and stories abound about this place. Australians refer to it as “The Rock” – no not Dwayne Johnson, The Rock – this is the real Rock!

I had seen the tourism pictures of Uluru at sunrise and sunset – yes they were pretty impressive but in this day of photoshop do you ever really believe anything you see on a tourism website? Wow – all I can say is it was one of the most amazing sights I had seen – the rock seemed to almost glow. It is definitely magical and spiritual.

It is sometimes reported that those who take rocks from the formation will be cursed and suffer misfortune. There have been many instances where people who removed such rocks attempted to mail them back to various agencies in an attempt to remove the perceived curse.

The rangers at the National Park there receive stones, pebbles, rocks and twigs on a daily basis from tourists who are worried about being cursed. They call them “sorry rocks” and place them back in the area. Some of the letters are fascinating – As reported in an Autralian news site –

“One traveller from Hong Kong posted a 300-gram piece of Uluru with the note: “When I received the rock I was so worried that I want to return it as soon as possible. [In] just one week, my brother broke up with his girlfriend, my father went to hospital and he will do heart surgery on the 20 January. Anyway I just want to return the rock to its rightful place and say good bye to the bad luck!”

The returned rocks are placed in a neutral space and are used to assist in repairing areas of erosion in the park. Some raw material has even been geologically identified as coming from another region and recently the park received a package of seashells. Tourists caught trying to take rocks or sand from the park can face hefty fines of up to $8500.

So those of you out there who have this habit of collecting little rocks, pebbles or shells when they travel – beware! I have to confess guilt here. My daughter loves to have a special stone or shell from anywhere I visit. My favourite one is a stone found on a muddy country road in Co. Cavan, Ireland, outside the now crumbled little farmhouse where my mother was born.

But if I go back to Uluru – I won’t be bringing any rocks or curses home with me!