eNewsletter | 3 | Piriya
Greetings from all the staff at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
"Time of the warm winds" is yet another busy season for park staff with lots of projects underway and a change in the weather patterns. The Anangu name for this time is Piriya. It's been a wet and windy season here at Uluru with exceptionally high rainfall. We have received over 300ml of rain so far. Visitors have been rewarded with numerous waterfalls flowing off the rock and new growth everywhere - a spectacular sight to see!
25th anniversary of handback
Read more about handback and our celebrations on our website
Tuesday 26 October marks the 25th anniversary of the handback of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to the Anangu traditional owners. The park will be celebrating this momentous day by hosting a cultural festival with arts and crafts, live music, inma or ceremonial dance and food stalls. Everyone is invited to attend - visitors, Anangu traditional owners, Mutitjulu residents and surrounding communities.
We hope you can join us for these exciting celebrations. See you in the park!
Tourism directions plan
The Board of Management has just released a plan to guide future tourism development in the park. The plan - Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Tourism Directions: Stage 1 - plots out the sort of experiences that will define Uluru in the future and the steps for developing them. A range of new business ideas are flagged, including the potential for guided overnight walks, an Aboriginal arts and crafts market, bicycle tours and animal tracking lessons for kids.
This new chapter in tourism at the park will be a long-term process. The most important part will be the journey with Anangu, helping them showcase their spectacular country and their living culture, supporting them to build strong and lasting partnerships with the tourism industry.
You can find a copy of the tourism plan on our website.
Controlled burning in the park
If you've come to visit the park in the last few months you might have seen smoke from some of our traditional burning work. Every cold season the park's Mutitjulu community rangers plan a traditional burning program as a way of keeping the country healthy and preventing wildfire. Each year the rangers burn a different section of the park, so there is always a patchwork of healthy habitat in different stages of regrowth. The rangers have just finished burning for 2010, covering the following areas:
- Burning the borefields to protect and enhance great desert skink and mulgara habitat
- Protection burns in the east and south sections of the park
- Burning a fire break through an important mallee habitat in the south of the park
- Burning the mala paddock to promote food sources for the mala and ensure that habitat is not lost in a lightning strike.
Indigenous rangers from around our local area took part in a very successful fire training exercise in July. The training involved 17 Anangu from the Mutitjulu community rangers, Angus Downs Indigenous Protected Area Rangers and Docker River Rangers, and was a great success. Led by trainers Andy Vinter from the Bachelor Institute and Rod Cantley from Bushfires NT, the rangers learnt how to record and assess weather conditions and how fire behaves. They also created rake hoe lines, or mineral earth breaks, as a fire control method. The training helped the rangers work towards a Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management including the 'Reduce Wild Fire Hazards' and 'Plan Burning for Natural And Cultural Resources Management' units.
We saw proof this cold season that our population of mala, or Rufous hare wallaby, is going strong. The critically endangered animals were reintroduced to a special enclosure in the park in 2005 - a fantastic moment for Anangu as the mala is a culturally significant species for them and there have been no wild mala here since the mid 1900s.
At the start of June, rangers returned to the park's specially built mala paddock to conduct the annual mala surveys. After carefully laying out dozens of traps, they crept back after dark to check them, recording the sex, weight and health status of the animals they found ... and there were quite a few of them! 50 mala were caught in the survey - 31 male and 19 female. 13 female mala had young babies in their pouches. All animals were healthy and within normal weight ranges.
Using population analysis, last year we estimated there were 74 mala in the paddock, which has risen to 108 this year. This is a fantastic outcome, thanks to the hard work of the rangers and traditional owners who care for these important animals.
Junior rangers spend a night with mala
Enthusiastic local school kids have been having a ball and learning lots through the
Mutitjulu junior rangers group.
In July, the junior rangers participated in a very special event. They listened to mala Tjukurpa told by Tjilpi, Heziekal Jungoonya, in Pitjantjatjara language. They then listened to ranger Jim Clayton tell the joint management story of how traditional owners and park staff worked together to save the mala. The students practised setting up the traps used by park staff in the annual mala survey.
Rugged up against the cool night air the junior rangers completed the night with a very special visit to the mala paddock. They bubbled with excitement as they gently touched a mala's shaggy fur before it was released back into the protected enclosure.
Learning about endangered animals
With the help of park staff and senior traditional owners, the junior rangers have just learnt about the threats that cause animals to become endangered, including how introduced species compete with native species for habitat. They have also learnt about the work park rangers do to take the pressure off endangered species, such as controlling feral animals. The kids produced a poster to help educate visitors on ways to protect endangered species in the park - it's a great addition to the Cultural Centre.
News for commercial tour operators
To help us keep the tourism industry up to date with life in the park, we have recently started sending out a regular Tourism Industry Update. These updates include information on seasonal attractions, any work we're planning or tourism policy issues that might affect visitors and local tour operators. If you would like to be added to the distribution list for these updates, please contact the Assistant Manager, Visitor and Tourism Services on 08 8956 1112 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have been hard at work from April to August improving the roads around Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park. Roads have been widened to protect the verges from traffic, and yellow lines have been marked on the road around the rock indicating 'no stopping' areas. During peak season, vehicles parked along the side of the road edges cause damage to native vegetation and increase erosion. There is also a safety risk to visitors who park on the main roads from other traffic. You can help set an example to other visitors by parking in allocated areas and not stopping in areas marked with yellow lines.
Tour guide accreditation
A quick reminder that 1 April 2011 is the deadline for all tour guides working in the park to have completed the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Knowledge for Tour Guides program. Most of our visitor services officers have completed the course and our new staff have enrolled with enthusiasm. If you are a tour operator and you have not already done so, we encourage you and your guides to enrol in the course as soon as possible.
A handbook is available to help - you can buy a copy for $30 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.Please contact Martin Bollmeyer from Charles Darwin University for enrolment details on (08) 8959 5252 or via email email@example.com.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is busily working on the upgrade of interpretive signage for the park. In July and August the sign design, construction and installation teams visited the park to get familiar with the sites for each sign. Over the next 12 months old signage in the park will be removed and replaced with new first class signage. The new signs will be the same look and feel as the signs at the Talinguru Nyakunytjaku viewing area and will provide extra information for visitors on the cultural and natural values of the park.