A member of one of the most respected Aboriginal families in the local Anangu community greeted the couple
The Duke and Duchess watched an Aborigine Welcome to Country ceremony
They also walked a short distance around the base of Uluru
William’s parents Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana made the same trip in 1983
Bathed in an orange glow, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge saw the majesty of Uluru at sunset for themselves today.
In a scene reminiscent of William’s parents the Prince and Princess of Wales 31 years ago, the couple posed for photographs at the legendary beauty spot – formerly known as Ayers Rock – in the heart of the Australian Outback.
At first William and Kate seemed a little self conscious as they posed for photographers.
‘So what shall we talk about,’ the prince joked to his wife
Kate, who’d changed from her earlier designer Roksanda Illincic dress into a cream one from high street chain Hobbs, clasped her hands in front as William, who initially had his hands behind his back, pointed out features on the rock.
Kate meanwhile batted away the ever-present flies and pushed the occasional stray hair away from her face. A school girl, who was lucky enough to witness the moment, told Kate: ‘You were both like magic when the photos were being taken, I was like ‘How are they not swatting flies away?’
Kate laughed: ‘I know. It was difficult.’ Added William: ‘They were all coming for us.’
Moments later, William said to Kate: ‘It’s a beautiful sight though. Quite breath-taking.’
As the blazing sun began to dip behind the monolith, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge trekked along a red-dirt path towards Uluru’s pock-holed base.
For a handful of minutes, theirs was the desert kingdom; alone to breathe in one of the deeply spiritual environs for the local Indigenous tribes – the waterhole along the Kuniya walk.
‘It’s nice and peaceful down there, very peaceful,’ Prince William said.
Guides point to two important ancestral beings surrounding the waterhole – Kuniya, the woma python woman and Liru the poisonous snake man, whom the latter clobbered over the head with a stick and avenged the wounding of her offspring.
Women’s intuition apparently, the prerogative of using force to protect one’s children.
The Duchess chuckled when she read the lesson on the interpretive sign.
After their brief private moment by the waterhole, the Royal couple veered right up a pathway to a small cave, where they viewed Aboriginal artwork painted onto the base of Uluru.
Their guide, Sammy Wilson, couldn’t be better placed to explain what the artwork meant and the significance to the Mutitjulu people.
His grandfather painted it; one of the last paintings to be splashed on the side of the massive rock.
‘They had already seen that old bloke dance at the cultural centre, well that is the story of this place,’ Mr Wilson said.
Fellow guide John Sweeney said the couple were ‘very, very interested in everything that was said.
‘Yes, they were very inquisitive and a pleasure to have on a tour,’ he said.
‘They asked about the markings on the rock where the waterfalls flow.
‘You see this place can’t be explained quickly, you need to go on a walk like the Royal couple did and see the marks on the rocks which are an actual record of the ancestors it is something that can only learnt by walking here and having that experience.’
Earlier int the day the couple took part in an Aborigine Welcome to Country ceremony at Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre.
After meeting elders from the Anangu people of Uluru, they gathered around a camp fire to watch the Inma ritual which incorporates traditional clapping sticks.
The ritual was the way the Anangu people formally acknowledged the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s arrival to their land.
Kate and William watched intently as dancers smeared with white paint performed in a ceremonial circle.
Speaking in Pitjantjatjara, the language of the Anangu, an elder explained the meaning of the dances which was then translated into English for Kate and William.
Catherine had made a wardrobe change from her arrival outfit into a Hobbs grey and white summer dress, sensibly ditching the heels for a pair of wedges, which in moments became caked in red dust.
A boy from the community presented the duke and duchess with a basket of Mala poo paper paintings – surely one of the tour’s less likely gifts.
The couple appeared to enjoy the display, asking questions of their hosts and admiring their gifts, which also included a carved wooden (punu) shield.
Catherine spoke with a group of elderly Anangu women before moving to the fireside, the fragrant bloodwood smoke filing the small spectator area.
Loud laughter went up from Catherine when William made a joke about a wooden snake that sat near the fire.
At the end of the dance, the Duchess smiled and spoke with Adam Giles, the Northern territory Chief Minister and Australia’s first indigenous head of government.
At the Uluru Cultural Centre, Prince William and Kate chatted soccer, rugby union and mathematics in a relaxed and animated encounter with nine Northern Territory high school children from some of the most remote schools in Australia.
At a tea party hosted by Australia’s first indigenous head of government, Northern Territory Chief Minister, Adam Giles, Prince William at one point joked about his lack of mathematical skills.
After Mr Giles invited the eight girls and one boy to do a Q and A with the Duke and Duchess, the Prince said, laughing, ‘just don’t ask me about Pythagoras’.
Erin Keeley, from Nhulunbuy High School on the north eastern tip of the Territory, talked about her studies with the Duchess.
Following the sudden death of he mother earlier this year, she wants to be a social worker.
After speaking for several minutes with Kate about her future, the Duchess said, ‘Really good luck with your studies.’
When the the girls asked to to be in a photograph with the royal couple, William responded in a self-deprecating manner, ‘Well if you don’t mind having a photograph with us.’
Chevez Kirkman, 15, who excels in maths and sport at Nyangatjatjara College, was asked by Prince William if he followed an English soccer side.
When Chevez said no, the Duke suggested his own side, saying, ‘If you were to have one, maybe Aston Villa would be a good one.’
Earlier the royal tourists presented certificates to tourism and hospitality graduates from the National Indigenous Training Academy at Yulara, and met some of the excited locals.
They were met at the academy’s entrance by general manager, Marea Moulton, and other officials from the facility.
‘We’re both really excited to be here,’ William said while shaking hands with Moulton.
Kate added: ‘We’re looking forward to meeting the students inside.’
As they walked inside, Kate batted a fly away from her face. ‘I was told about the flies,’ she laughed.
Inside the facility they were introduced to senior staff, who were undertaking further hospitality and tourism studies, and five trainees.
William seemed keen to ask what sort of things were taught at the academy and the length of the various courses.
‘I see a couple of spare seats over there,’ William joked as he entered the room. ‘Should I be joining the class?’
Misty Smith, 18, and Mark Campbell, 19, took the Duke and Duchess over to a map of Australia and told them where their families are from.
‘How’s your geography?’ William joked to Kate.
Misty said she was impressed by Kate’s interest in the various programmes of study: ‘Kate asked me if this is the only course available. She said she was really interested in the history of the people here,’ she explained later.
‘She also asked us if we [the trainees] knew each other before starting the course or if we became friends here. She said she loved her school days.’
Afterwards the royal couple walked outside to present eight certificates to graduating students from the academy.
Barbara Kanda, 42, who belongs to Uluru’s Mutitjulu community, has worked at the Ayers Rock resort since 2012. She continues to receive further training at the academy and was today awarded a level 3 hospitality certificate by William and Kate at the short ceremony.
Mrs Kanda said: ‘William singled me out afterwards to congratulate me and ask about the training. He’s a gentleman.’
After receiving her certificate from Kate, Jasmine Jingles, 19, of Mornington Island, Queensland, said she was thrilled.
‘It’s amazing, deadly as,’ she enthused.
Francis Oba, 23, of the Torres Strait, was wished good luck for his future by Prince William.
Clutching his certificate, he said: ‘This is really great … we’re touched they came so far to be here.’
After the short ceremony, general manager Moulton presented the Duke – dressed like a bushman in in cream jeans, an open-necked shirt and with his sleeves rolled up – with a two metre hunting spear made from from mulga wood and kangaroo vein.
For the second time in Australia, Kate stepped out in a dress by London designer Roksanda Ilincic. The taupe cap-sleeved dress with a pale grey belt was a perfect fit for the 31C temperatures.
The Duke and Duchess were also given a punu (wooden bowl), clapping sticks, which are a type of musical instrument, and a small kangaroo hair blanket.
The traditional hunting spear was crafted by indigenous elder Hectar Burton and is made from barbed mulga wood and bound in traditional with kangaroo tendons.
Moulton says of handing William the weapon: ‘I joked with him that he could give Harry some training with it and he laughed.’ Kate then held the spear daintily, commenting: ‘You could do some damage [with this].’
The Duchess seemed pleased with a hand-painted bracelet she was given, putting it on immediately and marvelling at the detail that went into it.
Moulton says: ‘It’s made by some of the students here, who hand-painted [large nut-like seeds].’
Kate commented as she turned her wrist around: ‘It’s very pretty. It fits perfectly,’
The clapping sticks they were gifted were something the royal parents thought George would like.
‘George loves anything that makes noise,’ Kate said of the traditional instrument, which is made from locally sourced wood.
The red centre was buzzing with excitement about the royal visit – and with thousands of tiny flies.
Before a lush field of grass in the middle of the desert, the Anangu people waited under a tree for William and Kate at the National Indigenous Training Academy which provides training for the hospitality and tourism industries in 12-month residential courses.
Each of the 100 people who graduate each year are guaranteed work at the Ayers Rock Resort or other hotel complexes.
As the couple arrived at the academy, children from the adjoining Yulara State School chanted: ‘Hi, Kate!’
After the presentation, the couple went on a small walkabout to meet around 150 local well-wishers who had gathered to see them.
Kate gravitated towards a group of kids, telling a trio of young girls in tiaras: ‘You make lovely princesses.’
One of the girls’ mothers Emily Haskins, 39, later said: ‘Kate spoke to my [four-year-old] daughter Amelia and told her she looked pretty. She’s so beautiful. We asked if she missed George and she said yes.’
Kate’s new bracelet caught the eye of a 10-month-old baby in the crowd. While Kate spoke with his mother, the tot grabbed her wrist and wouldn’t let go. ‘They’re surprisingly strong at this age,’ Kate giggled.
Kate told Ms Haskin of Alice Springs she thought that the central Australian landscape was spectacular.
‘She said the red earth was stunning, that it was pretty hot and the flies were pretty friendly,’ Ms Haskin said.
After the gift giving, Kate was also reunited with her clutch, which she had handed over to 19-year-old Canendo, who she had met earlier.
‘I was really honoured when she asked me to hold her bag,’ she says. ‘I was really nervous looking after it. And, no, I did not want to look inside. I was glad she trusted me.
‘Kate is so elegant and beautiful.’
Bindi McPherson arrived straight from her job dressed in paint spattered shorts and a T-shirt to receive a certificate from the Duchess.
‘She was interested I was wearing painter’s gear’, she said. ‘I just came from a job. I said if she needed her nursery repainted, I know where there’s a good painter and she laughed.
She said the visit was a ‘pretty big event’ for a little town.
‘They’re royals, mate’, she added.
The Cambridges then met Northern Territory school students at an afternoon tea hosted by the Northern Territory’s chief minister, Adam Giles, who is Australia’s first indigenous head of Government.
While taking part in the afternoon tea – although the couple didn’t eat or drink anything themselves – William and Kate spoke with some more students from the academy. They both asked lots of questions about their studies and future plans.
Industry Workplace Trainer Liz Lotter, 41, says: ‘The Duke and Duchess showed so much interest in the work we do here. I was impressed and flattered.
‘You can tell they’re naturally curious characters as they both ask lots of interesting question.’
On their way out the couple stopped to chat with some children from the local Yulara School. William kneeled down in front of a group of giggling boys. When he realised they wouldn’t stop laughing, he just tickled their tummies and ran off.
About 150 people in the remote town pressed up against the fence surrounding Yulara Airport to get a look at the couple, who touched down just after 1pm local time.
They were greeted by the Administrator of the Northern Territory, Sally Thomas, her husband Duncan McNeill and Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles and his wife Tamara.
Traditional owners Vincent Nipper, from one of the most respected Aboriginal families in the local Anangu community, and Daisy Walkabout, also welcomed the royal couple.
Mr Nipper said: ‘It’s very special to have the royal family here at this place and they’ll have a real special moment at the rock.’
William lingered as he spoke to Ms Walkabout, who greeted his parents Prince Charles and Diana on their trip to Uluru in 1983.
‘We’re happy to meet them, like we were happy to meet (Charles and Diana) in the past,’ Ms Walkabout said.
‘They’ve travelled a lot and now they will come to see this country, and it will be good to know they have seen Uluru, which is so hugely significant not just for a small group of people but a whole range of people that are related and connected to this place.’
The Anangu, the traditional owners of the land that includes Uluru, previously known as Ayers Rock, jointly manage the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park with Parks Australia, the federal parks agency.
The indigenous people have looked after the land for tens of thousands of years but only won back the title to the land in 1985 is what is known as the Handback.
Avril Shear and Lindsay Gordon, Sydney-siders originally from South Africa, extended their outback holiday at Uluru so they could see the Duke and Duchess as their motorcade left the airport.
‘I don’t know if he answered me specifically, but I said ‘welcome to Uluru’ and he said thanks,’ Ms Shear said.
‘I think it was the best glimpse of them we could have gotten.’
She said the couple were very natural.
‘I think the difference with them is that you know they’re so in love; it brings people a new hope, less of a stiff upper lip,’ she said.
Amanda Bartels’ and her ten-month-old son Nathan had made the five hour journey from Alice Springs to see the couple.
They spoke to the Duchess who sympathised with the problems of keeping a baby occupied during the journey.
‘She related to the trials of travelling,’ Mrs Bartels said. ‘She let Nathan play with her bracelet’
‘My daughter Aimee-Grace gave her some native flowers’.
The couple will then visit the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre to learn about Uluru and neighbouring Kata Tjuta, the major geological features in the national park, both of which are sacred sites to the indigenous people.
They will also learn about Tjukurpa, the belief system of the indigenous people, though the full significance of Uluru is known only to the Anangu people, who do not share it with outsiders.
They will do a base walk around Uluru, and hopefully will be able to experience the silence of the desert.
The royal visitors left Prince George with his nanny in Canberra to take their Royal Australian Air Force flight to Yulara airport.
Uluru is one of the most remote places on earth, but the visit to the ancient monolith in the Central Australian Desert by Prince William and Kate will be like a meeting of old family friends – and a case of British royalty meeting Aboriginal royalty.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge flew into Uluru which is 460 km south west of the nearest town, Alice Springs, and more than 2000 km from Sydney.
Barbara Nipper Tjikatu, the grandmother of Vincent Nipper who greeted the royal couple upon arrival, will explain to the Duchess the special significance of Uluru as a spiritual ‘women’s place’ and tell her the traditional creation stories about the origin of the rock which is millions of years old.
Mrs Tjikatu, who is now in her eighties or nineties but does not know her exact date of birth, and her late husband Nipper Winmati were renowned bush trackers who were both involved in the hunt for the dingo after the disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain at Uluru in the notorious ‘dingo’s got my baby’ case.
Speaking her tribal language, Pitjantjatjara, through an interpreter Mrs Tjikatu said she wanted to show the Duchess what life is like for women around Uluru, which lies at the centre of an Aboriginal region known as NPY country for the three dialects of Western Desert language, the largest language group of Aboriginal Australia.
‘I want to give [the Duchess] a present and make her feel happy to be here,’ Mrs Tjikatu said, ‘maybe this necklace.’
Mrs Tjikatu and her extended family have made special necklaces from batwing coral seeds and Quandong pods for the royal couple.
But she also has a special gift – a basket of paintings on paper made from a new art medium invented by Mrs Tjikatu and local community workers – wallaby poo.
Made from the droppings of the local endangered Rufous Hare Wallaby or Mala collected by park rangers around the rock, boiled and washed and mixed with a bit of glitter ‘for the royals’.
Then it’s off to Uluru, where they will be taken on a walk around the base of one of the largest monoliths in the world, with a circumference of almost ten kilometres, and shown ancient Aboriginal rock art and a sacred waterhole before enjoying a ‘romantic’ late afternoon stroll.
The Duke and Duchess are expected to witness the rare sight of rain cascading off Uluru when they visit Australia’s most iconic site.
Recent rain in the Red Centre over the past few weeks means they will be among the only 1 per cent of visitors who see waterfalls pouring off the surface of the rock.
After which they will reportedly spend a cosy night together at the luxury camping resort, Longitude 101, where the evening temperature may drop to 15 degrees centigrade.