Photograhs of Uluru and Kata Tjuta from the collection of Jan and Bob Wright
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors are warned that this page may contain images of deceased persons.
Jan has very kindly allowed me to upload many of her photo slides and has kindly added more of their amazing story in the comments underneath the photos. All photographs are copyright Jan Wright. A small bio and contact information is found at the foot of this page. (If you wish to use any of these photographs, you are required under copyright law to contact and obtain permission.)
This is a photo of sunrise taken from Ansett Lodge. The rock looks a little like an elephant. View larger version
Glen Helen Lodge
Bob was running a race meeting for the Tourists at Glen Helen Lodge- like a mini Melbourne Cup. We made our own ‘Cup’ out of outside lightshades. And then we raced all the horses (which were all owned by Mick Whaggo). Long Tall Harry started the race with the soud of a whip crack. Naturally one of Mick’s horses won, because they were all his. Then they all shared the booty which included some money. View larger version
This is a photo of Mick Whaggo, Long Tall Harry, the Kadaichi Man, and Mick’s uncle, sitting in front of the Glen Helen Tourist Lodge – looking at the sorry stone
. They said it came from outer space. This sorry stone
is used as a communal grave stone for the Aborigine. The Stone was taken by Frank Clune, the writer, and he had to return it.
These men were stockmen for Brian Bowman, who owned Glen Helen cattle Station. Some of these cattle stations in the ‘outback’ of Australia are bigger than the state of Texas in U.S.A. Neighbours can be up to 200 miles apart, and still travel to parties. Dawn Severin came from Curtin Springs, near Ayers Rock, to Alice Springs Drive-in theatre, in the evening, to see Jesus Christ Superstar and then went home on the same corrugated red sand road, after it finished. Distance was 283 miles one way, but distance was measured in time not length, and this was quite normal for most of these Centralians.
Curtin Springs is a Road House with shade, home made cakes, petrol stop, mail collection, toilets and bore water – 45 miles east of Ayers Rock. Dawn and Peter Severin ran the Road House at Curtin Springs which every traveller had to stop and refresh before continuing to Ayers Rock. Before that they had travelled 4 hours on the rough road in the middle of nowhere. Curtin Springs cattle station supplied the meat to all the Resort Lodges at Uluru.
There was no telephones, and certainly no mobile phone connection then, only a 2-way crystal radio. When anyone talked on the radio phone, it was linked with the whole of the Territory and people used to listen in to each others’ conversations. No secrets here! View larger version
Early Days at Ayers Rock (Uluru)
This is a photo of the old aiport at Ayers Rock – Uluru. This plane was used for joy-rides. Here are Bob, Jan and their little three year old daugher. View larger version
If you select “view larger version”, you can see an image of “Maggie” over Maggie Springs. In this photo you can also see the original road that circumnavigated the Rock. It was seven miles long. View larger version
This photo is a formation up high on the North Western side of Ayers Rock, near the old women’s cave. View larger version
Photo of the Southern end of The Olgas not long after rain when the flowers have burst to life. View larger version
Kanjie Gorge, Ayers Rock taken at sunset. The climb is out of sight on the right. View larger version
The Olgas – now known as Kata Tjuta
The Desert Banksia (Banksia ornata
) is a species of shrub in the plant genus Banksia which grows up to 3 m tall. It occurs in western Victoria, and in South Australia, where it is common on the Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island and east of Adelaide, but is apparently absent from Yorke Peninsula.
It tends to grow in mallee and heathland environments in sandy well drained soils.
Its flowers exist as cylindrical spikes which are initially yellow/green to yellow, and turn bronze in when aged. The Desert Banksia flowers in late winter to spring. The green leaves are elongated wedge shaped with serrated edges about 20 mm wide and 100 mm long. View larger version
Photo taken from on top of Mt. Olga looking East to Uluru in the far left hand side (near the rocks). Mt. Olga was named after the Queen of Spain. Uluru was named after Sir Henry Ayers
by William Gosse, who was the first explorer to bring the wonderful rock to the attention of the world.
View larger version
This photo is taken looking out from the Valley of the Winds
at Kata Tjuta. View larger version
This is a photo of The Olgas at night. The “V” shaped image under the moon, is Pungalunga Gorge. The Olgas are a female site, and the gorge mentioned is a “deflowering” site for young indigenous girls, as told to us from Lofty, the unofficial mayor of the township. View larger version
I wanted to take a photo of the stars in the night sky, but the moon came out from behind the clouds just as I took it. When I developed the film, it showed a beautiful Orb of Light. The Aborigines say when they perform their sacred ceremonial rituals in a circle, the psychic people can see so many Orbs of Light it looks like they are sitting in a bubble bath. They call them Min Min Lights. Look closely at the larger version and you can see a pale outer Orb of Light in the picture. View larger version
This shows the entrance to the Cathedral Cave. You can see a man in a white shirt to note the size. A whole busload of tourists, between 30 and 38 people can go inside. View larger version
This is further into the Cathedral Cave showing stalactites of mud rock You can hit the stalacites with a rubber hammer and it rings “bong” … like a bell. Depending on the length of the stalactitites you get different sounds. View larger version
The long crack down the left hand side of Uluru is called the Kangaroo Tai. The mythical story is the tail came from Kanjie Gorge, and there is a gap at Kanjie Gorge which matches the shape of the tail which is said to have come from. It is about 3 metres wide and you can crawl between it and the rock it lays on. You can actually see the blue sky through it. View larger version
Maggie Springs (Mutujulu Springs)
This is Maggie Springs, now known as Mutujulu Springs. If you look closely you can see a large female face in the sloping rock who we called “Maggie” although the Aborigines called her Goolagaia, The Black Giantess
The face appears only in the afternoon and only from a certain angle. View larger version
Silver streaks of water cascade down Uluru to Maggie Springs just after rain; if you look at the top of Uluru, you will see how low the clouds are… View larger version
This is Maggie Springs showing the water cascading into the waterhole after rain. The mythical story tells of Goolagaia
living in the rock. The Aborigines say to look at the rock and see through it as energy. They say you do not have to take photos – you can take a photo with your “inner eyes”. View larger version
This is the hidden valley near the top of Ayers Rock where full size trees grow. When it rains, water is caught in the valley and cascades down the valley into Maggie Springs. View larger version
Ayers Rock taken at sunset framed by Bell Fruit Trees, the green flowers hung like a bunch of grapes. They actually looked like a bell hanging upside down. View larger version
An afternoon photo of Ayers Rock looking pink. No trees. It is marvellous how the Rock keeps changing colour. View larger version
This is Ayers Rock in the afternoon. Note there are no trees yet. Taken from sunset strip – where tourists gathered to take photos. Over the years it has become like a meeting of the League of Nations – in the middle of nowhere. View larger version
Bio for Bob and Jan Wright:
I first met Janice Relf in the later part of 1961 on an accidental date – 6 weeks later we married—in North Sydney, Crows Nest Methodist Church—I was in the Navy at the time and had just been drafted to Darwin to be the Captain’s Cook at Admiralty House and Government House where the administrator, Rodger Knott was living. So we began a continuing journey … Jan, (as she likes to be known) was used to leaving for Alice Springs for the winter every 6 months with her grandmother and Uncle Les Campbell, who was an artist of some reknown.
They used to camp in a tent at Uluru as far back as the 1950s.
The humidity of the North was hard to take for Jan. After my time in Darwin was completed and after the birth of our daughter Jane, we returned to 404 Princes Highway, Bomaderry and planned our trip to the Centre of Australia. On arrival I secured a position with Lye Underdown as a chief at his new Alice Springs Hotel and while there, we were offered a position managing a lodge for tourists at what was then known as Ayers Rock.
Soon we were able to be familiar enough to learn the mythology of the area, even conduct tours around the Rock, and be fortunate enough to be there with a camera to catch the many moods of the Rock. We entertained the Ansett Pioneer tourists with slide shows in the evenings at the Lodge. After the season completed we left Australia on a 6 months around–the–world–cruise with the Sitmar Line and while away, we were asked if we would come back. We said, “Yes, if we could manage Glen Helen Lodge, west of Alice Springs” and that was all O.K.
There we were the only 3 whites amongst a community of Aborigines who we soon got to know and depend on for news, they had a wireless and we didn’t – they made damper, had meat, and were a very happy, healthy, thriving group. We were cut off From Alice Springs because of rain. Roads were washed out, no traffic was getting through … we heard stories from Long Tall Harry and Mick Whaggo among others. The South Australian Film Corporation had just finished making the film, The Sundowners.
We went back to the Rock for yet another season managing the Lodge; finally leaving the Centre of Australia in 1980. One, never really leaves—it is now 2010 and we still look at the weather map; check the weather and whenever we meet up with people from the Centre, it is like family. The stories are endless and the mateship is forever – Jan and I are currently living at Nowra, n.s.w. Australia. Phone: (+61) (02) 0481 481 383 or 0410 664 797 email: email@example.com
I took this photo from another Lodge named Red Lion when it was raining and cold. It looks blue white. View larger version