1 September 2008

Sorry Rocks of Uluru

Deep in the heart of the vast desert lands of central Australia stand two massive rock giants known among the Aboriginals as Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

They are both geological enigmas since they appear like giant red rock mountains standing in the middle of a massive flat desert. Uluru rises to a height of 1,114 feet and measures 5.6 miles around the base. The red sandstone rock is better known to the Australians as Ayers Rock.

Only 18 miles to the west stands Kata Tjuta, a series of massive rounded rocky domes. The highest dome, called Mount Olga, towers 1,970 feet above the desert floor. Separated by narrow gorges, the domes cover an area of about five miles long and three miles in width.

Naturally, both monuments are considered sacred to the Aboriginal people. They also are an attraction to tourists who enjoy climbing the rocks, especially Uluru. The area has been declared a national park by the Australian government.

So much for the geography lesson.

Park employees say that something very odd is happening at Uluru. Many tourists that climb and peak have had a tendency to pick up pieces of the red rock, or even chip away a piece of the monument for souvenirs. After a period of time, the stolen stones are returned, sometimes with letters explaining the bad luck they are believed to have caused.

They say most of the pieces come in the mail. Some are only small stones while others weigh as much as 75 pounds. The park receives an average of one rock a day.

The stones are cluttering the park offices and officials say they dont know what to do with them. The natives are calling them "sorry rocks."

One article said the letters indicate a variety of reasons for the strange mailings. One mans note said that "six years' bad luck is enough." Others say they have repented for stealing from a sacred monument and are returning the stone out of respect for the Aborigines. Writers even suggest that the pieces of Uluru are returned "out of sadness and guilt."

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