When it comes to mapping and documenting the world, it’s hard to argue that Google have got an amazing repository of data and imagery which when used together can transport us all over the world using just our smartphone or computer. Today, that extends to one of Australia’s – and the world’s – most iconic locations; Uluru.
Using the portable, backpack based Google Streetview camera, Lindsey Dixon, of Northern Territory Tourism, walked the area and grounds around the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in accordance with local Tjukurpa law.
Lindsey said “It’s such an honour and privilege to contribute to a project that allows people all around the world to experience this iconic site. Through Google’s Street View technology, Uluru and Kata Tjuta can now be absorbed in an entirely new, proudly authentic and immersive way.”
Google worked closely with NT Tourism and the traditional land owners to ensure not only were the images captured with respect to the local area, but over the course of some two years a vast amount of stories from the local Anangu traditional owners have also been captured and incorporated into stunning video stories.
All these images are accessible online at Google Maps Street View and for those of us who have yet to visit Uluru the enormous size can be better appreciated using the ground level walking photographic tour, and the resolution and quality of the images gives a genuine sense of the amazing colours and contours of Uluru.
Sammy Wilson, Anangu traditional owner of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park says “Sometimes visitors come here and they see a beautiful place, but they don’t understand the Tjukurpa, the culture and the law and the knowledge and the history that this place holds…. It’s the living keeper of our culture, We want to teach those visitors about the Anangu understanding of this place.”
While Street View is an amazing experience, Google has taken the concept of documenting the area a step further, using Story Spheres to capture immersive audio stories and songs of the Anangu traditional owners resulting in an interactive guided tour narrated by Sammy Wilson, with music from traditional owner Anangu Elder, Reggie Uluru.
If, like me, these are the first Story Sphere’s you’ve experienced, be prepared to be blown away – the audio operates in Stereo to allow the sound to move around behind you or beside you when you “look around” in the image – its really quite immersive.
“We’re honoured to collaborate with Anangu traditional owners, Parks Australia and Northern Territory Government to bring the unique stories and rich cultural history of the Anangu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to the world through Google Street View and Story Spheres” said Jason Pellegrino, Managing Director of Google Australia. “We hope this launch will inspire even more people around the world to experience this extraordinary site, and to learn more about the Anangu connection with the land.”