Saturday was our last day at Uluru, and each bus group chose their own way to spend it. Most of them visited Kata Tjuta, a neighbouring rock formation that is even more sacred to the Anangu. Meaning ‘many heads’, Kata Tjuta is an important site where the Anangu still perform men’s business and sacred ceremonies. The Anangu women are not allowed to be at Kata Tjuta, but for non-Anangu, men and women are all welcome.
One of our bus groups did the Uluru Base Walk, a 10km trek all around the base of the rock. Even though it wasn’t compulsory, every Pilgrim from WA chose to do the walk, and they felt like they really benefitted from the experience.
After a free afternoon came our final time all together in the Big Top. This time was our own sacred business, as we were invited to reflect on and respond to some of the challenges that we’ve been facing not only on this trip, but in our lives back at home as well. It was a celebration of how far we’ve come, but also a process to prepare us for heading home. For some of the Pilgrims it’s been really emotional, as they grapple with the painful past and see how much they’ve grown in such a small amount of time. So many have called this night the most special part of the Pilgrimage for them.
We gathered back in that sacred space on Sunday morning, as we rose before the dawn for another time of reflection. This time we gathered on a hill overlooking the land, with Uluru and Kata Tjuta changing colour as the sun rose. Sophie sang a song called Red Prickle Beard while a performance artist Steve Bell mimed the story of the song for us. The song is a very Australian story of what it means to follow something greater than ourselves and calls us to care for people and their communities. As we watched the sun rise over the outback, we were invited to take a new path; to identify what we’ve done in our lives that has harmed ourselves and others, and to choose something new instead.
“Come sing a new song, come waltz with me. Come waltz through thicket and through scrub. Waltz with me through lonely towns where the people need to see the way the wind blows songs of freedom through the trees. Come on and waltz in a new song with me. ” – Red Prickle Beard by Tony Williams.