Columnist Nick Bennett met his partner and wife at sunrise on top of Uluru.
Columnist Nick Bennett met his partner and wife at sunrise on top of Uluru. iStock.

Reflection provides a path to self-discovery

I love the Central Desert region of Australia. Part of the reason is that I found my 'self' there when I was living and working as a tour and safari guide based in the Alice. Another is that the landscape is magnificent, magical and mysterious. Once you're in it, it is impossible to take it for granted. Once you fall in love with it, it never leaves you.

It was a lot of fun living and playing in that area and, also importantly, meeting elders from various communities and working with them through various roles and projects. I got a genuine education on the oldest continuous culture in the world from some of the loveliest and gentlest people I have ever met.

The other reason is that I met my partner and wife out there at sunrise on top of Uluru - a place that I am deeply connected and forever grateful to. Some may be taken aback that I would climb, which I did - often. My view was that I had a duty of care to the Anangu (traditional peoples) and to the travellers I was responsible for to ensure that they respected the path they took and the place they were in.

It's also one of - if not the most - spiritual places in Australia and what I recognise as the heart of the country.

That was 25 years ago that we met and this week we have taken time to go back to celebrate, reminisce and reflect on what an amazing journey that time has been for us and to reconnect with old friends who still live in the region and in particular Alice Springs.

It's an interesting thing reflection. Genuinely sitting and reviewing what has gone well, what you're grateful for, what you have learnt, what you are sorry for and what needs to be done differently or changed in order for the future to be better than the past.

The landscape lends itself to taking time. There's something there when travelling along the Western McDonnell Ranges as you recognise that the sun has been rising and falling over it for more than 500 million years. It puts perspective on our own short time here and, if you are fortunate and are camped out as I used to be miles from anywhere with no light pollution, the stars sit upon you at night and are breathtaking.

Pardon my waxing lyrical, however what this trip reinforces is that we are part of something beyond our human arrogance - something that inspires, awes and anchors us to make this small life meaningful. Or maybe that's just me?

Where do you find that for yourself? That's worth reflecting on as time continues to pass and we with it.

Nick Bennett is a facilitator and coach at mindsaligned.com.au