Tourists cursed by rocks stolen from Uluru

Uluru sorry rocks

Collecting seashells from trips to the beach was a popular and seemingly harmless activity we often did as children. We’d walk along the shoreline with a bucket in hand and handpick the most uniquely-shaped, colourful items we could spot under the soft layers of damp sand.

They were mementos, reminders of specific places and time. Many of us may still have the odd shell or stone on the bench or in the bathroom, and each time we look at it it transforms us. Harmless, you’d think.  

Unfortunately, tourists have been taking stones, dirt and sand from the sacred site of Uluru while on holiday, but have reportedly been on the receiving end of bad luck, some even saying they’ve been cursed.

Almost every day of the year, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park receives a parcel sent from a tourists who has regretfully taken a piece of land.

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Along with sorry notes and letters of regret, they send back the pieces of rock, the biggest being a mammoth 32kg slab that was returned from South Australia. The tourists reportedly return the rocks because of guilt, misunderstanding, their environment conscience kicking or because of receiving bad luck. 

“When I received the rock I was so worried that I want to return it as soon as possible,” said one person from Hong Kong, who received the rock as a gift.

“In just one week, my brother broke up with his girlfriend, my father went to hospital and he will do heart surgery on the 20 January,” he said. 

“Anyway I just want to return the rock to its rightful place and say good bye to the bad luck!”

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Uluru, the world’s largest rock, has cultural and spiritual significance to the traditional owners of the land, the Anangu people, as this is where the ‘Tjukurpa’, or the stories of creation, originated.

Read more: Weather event causes one of Australia’s most iconic tourist attractions to close

The first parcel was received in the 1970s when ownership of Uluru was returned to the Anangu, a people who see the site as sacred and spiritual land.

Yvonne Doevon went to Uluru during a school visit and experienced some odd things while there.

“We were warned not to take any of the rock because of the bad luck it brings,” Doevon said.

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“On the way back things kept going wrong and it came out that one of the girls had stolen some of the rock. She was bullied off the bus and made to leave it behind. No more bad things happened,” she recalls.

While the local elders appreciate the return of the rocks, it has created some administration strain and left some questions about what to do with the rocks once they’re sent back.

Because it is impossible to determine where the rocks were originally taken from, they can’t simply be returned. Instead they are catalogued and placed in a neutral spot as PhD student from the University of Western Sydney, Jasmine Foxlee, who conducted research about the rocks, explains.

“In the end it was decided that the rocks be placed in a neutral space, a creek bed not far from the Uluru Cultural Centre,” Foxlee describes.

“Here, they are back in country but not in danger of upsetting Tjukurpa, traditional Anangu law.

“It’s also a place where the rocks and sediments could be washed by the rains and integrated back into the landscape.”

What do you think about taking rocks and soil from the landscape? Have you done this before and do you think it could result in bad luck?

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