Closure. It has taken 27 years, but I have been reconciled with Ubirr. As a teenager, on a trip with another family, we visited Ubirr. It was hot, as usual, and looking at rock art was not an inspiring afternoon’s activity. So I sat out the rock art tours in the carpark with a few other teenagers and boy, weren’t we the clever ones not getting all hot and bothered on the boring walk!
It was only when the rest of the group returned to the coach, waxing lyrical about the views over the escarpment and Arnhem Land did our teenage invincibility shatter.
Worse was to come. A few years later whilst watching Crocodile Dundee at the movies, I was tormented with the stunning cinematography of the view from the top of Ubirr. I was confronted with the beauty of what I missed.
My biggest relief from all the angst was that, upon climbing to the summit of Ubirr, it is an absolutely stunning vista and a place of utmost beauty. I was not disappointed. The 360 panorama of the flood plains, the escarpment and across into Arnhem land was enjoyed in the sunset with the family, the Bohemians and others. It did not matter that there were a lot of people up there, it mattered that I was.
I also began to see why for 50,000 years, Ubirr has been a home to indigenous people. The shelter of the rock, the food from rivers, flood plains and woodlands together with the wonder of the area would tempt anyone to set up home.
As we walked back to the carpark I was telling the kids the story of my previous encounter with Ubirr, ending with “as teenagers, always go on the walk”, after which I hear someone behind me say “Thank you for that advice”. I turn around and notice a mother with a grin and a teenage daughter looking rather sheepish.
The rock art was pretty good as well.