A Place like Amata

Way out in the great Australian nowhere, in the far north of South Australia, there is a tiny town called Amata. It is home to the Pitjantjatjara people, an aboriginal anangu (people) of the central desert area. Amata is close to the border with both Western Australia and Northern Territory, and is accessed via 165 kilometres of gravel road off the Uluru (Ayers Rock) road. 

The sky is hard and bright. The rough rattle-track road spits red dust from under the tyres as I drive to this far-flung corner of the continent. Small, stunted trees poke up here and there and there are odd bits of what looks like space-junk scattered about in the landscape. Cars cast a foreboding mechanical grimace over this harshly beautiful place.

I stop, stepping into the dry heat of a central Australian summer’s day. It is very quiet, and there is no one but me in this great openness of sky and sun and silence. Here there are some delicate flowers growing in the sand, bright purple and pink. Occasionally a goanna creeps out to catch some sun at the edge of the road.

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