Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

The western face of Uluru reminds us of Lungkata, a greedy and dishonest blue-tongue lizard who came to Uluru from the north.

As Lungkata travelled towards Uluru, he burned the country and began the practice of traditional management of the land.

At Uluru, Lungkata camped in a cave high on the western face, looking out over where the Cultural Centre is today. He hunted around the southern base of the rock, where he came upon a wounded kalaya (emu), still dragging a spear from another hunt.

Lungkata knew that the wounded bird belonged to other hunters and it would be wrong for someone else to kill it and eat it, yet this was exactly what he did. He then began cutting it up and cooking it.

The two panpanpalala (bellbird hunters) who had wounded the kalaya were not far behind. Seeing the smoke from Lungkata’s fire, they came up to him and asked if he had seen their bird. Hiding the pieces of kalaya behind him, Lungkata lied and told the two hunters that he had seen nothing. Disappointed, they walked off, but when they located the tracks of the kalaya they guessed what had happened.

Meanwhile, Lungkata gathered up what he could carry of the bird and raced westwards to his permanent camp, dropping pieces of meat behind him. You can still see the kalaya’s thigh at Kalaya Tjunta, just north of the Ikari cave near Mutitjulu Waterhole.

The trail Lungkata left was easy to follow, and the two panpanpalala caught up with him. The hunters made a huge bonfire under the slow, fat lizard as he struggled upwards to his camp in a cave up high.

Lungkata, the greedy and dishonest thief, choked on the smoke and was burnt by the flames. He rolled down, leaving strips of his burned flesh stuck to the rocks he touched. As his flesh came off, Lungkata got smaller and smaller, until eventually he became a small solitary stone.

The smoke and ash from the fire still stain the side of Uluru’s steep slopes above Lungkata’s body.

Lungkata reminds us what happens to the greedy and dishonest, and teaches us that climbing Uluru is dangerous.

Want to know more?

Explore this story in more detail on the Lungkata walk.