Kata Tjuta

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Oct 26 2014

Tags: , ,

Category: Australia, Oceania

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Focal Length:17.5mm
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or: What’s in a name?

Looking from the red planet Mars at the red continent Australia on planet Earth we may be able to see, with the best available telescope, an image like you’ll find here (please click), on a picture made by NASA. From that far we perceive a group of heavily eroded bulges in the land. They are The Olgas, of which you see a few from close by on the photo above. You really have to come close to appreciate their true dimensions and extraordinary shapes.

The Aborigines call these mountains since time immemorial Kata Tjuta, Many Heads, but in colonized Australia they were named Mount Olga, after the highest peak among them that got its name in 1872 in honour of Queen Olga of Württemberg. The group as a whole then became known as The Olgas.

The account of the recent changes in the official naming of the mountains is interesting since it reflects the discrete changes in the relationship between Aborigines and whites. In December 1993, a dual naming policy was adopted that allowed official names consisting of both the English name and the traditional Aboriginal name. As a result, Mount Olga was renamed Mount Olga / Kata Tjuta. Subsequently, nine years later in 2002, the order of the dual names was officially reversed to Kata Tjuta / Mount Olga.

“What’s in a name?” In this case the answer would be: the sign of a subtle shift in the relationship between colonizer and colonized, and an official recognition of the existence of the Aborigines as the original inhabitants of Australia.

Photo of the week: Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), Central Desert, Australia 2013

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