From Wasteland to Spiritual Birthing Site: Place-Making at Uluru (Ayers Rock) 1958-1985

Ms Jillian Barnes
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From the late 1950s tourism authorities - official and commercial - were engaged in powerful place-making exercises that constructed a variety of tourist gazes for the Australian Outback that legitimated specific understandings of Whiteness, Indigeneity and connectivity with land. This was particularly so for the monolith at the centre of the Australian continent. During the following quarter century Uluru (Ayers Rock) was reconstructed from a monument to imperial/colonial conquest and Indigenous Australian dispossession to the locus of an Earth Mother and the birthplace of a distinctively Australian land spirit. This paper will outline and explain this re-imagining process and historicise it within important socio-political events. These include the erosion of the White Australia 'policy', Indigenous land rights and territorial contestation between federal and territory governments. This period begins when Ayers Rock was excised from the Petermann (Aboriginal) Reserve and gazetted as a national park in 1958. It concludes when the Governor General of Australia presented Anangu with title deeds to a formally renamed Uluru, and this previously dispossessed Indigenous community together with the Commonwealth government - in a spirit of mutual trust - entered into a joint management arrangement for the future world heritage listed site.

Keywords: Place-making, Tourist gaze, Site sacralisation, Indigenous land rights, National park joint management, World heritage
Stream: First Nations and Indigenous Peoples
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Tourism and Place-Making at Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Ms Jillian Barnes

Doctoral Scholar, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, The University of Sydney

Jillian has a business background in arts marketing and industrial consulting, and has recently worked on a documentary film in Central Australia with members of the Arrernte community at Hermannsburg. During her doctoral research she has edited Historia, an annual publication of the Department of History at The University of Sydney, given guest lectures on Australian race relations, constructions of Indigenous identity and transgressive acts by Indigenous peoples to escape 'captured' or stereotypical images, and tutored in a new History subject, Race Relations and Australian Frontiers.

Ref: H05P0402