National Geographic : 1946 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine At a Place Called Owellinna Was Found the Only Running Water on the Trip The author and his assistants drank this unboiled. It came from a large spring in the hillside, ran strongly for about a mile, then disappeared in the sandy stream bed. Less finicky than white men, the natives would slake their thirst from stagnant pools, simply filtering out the green scum by digging little holes in the sand near the shore and waiting for them to fill. native name, Katatjuta (Many Heads), is particularly apt, for the whole group is com posed of enormous round-topped pillars of rock, each separated from the other, to ground level (Plate V). The tallest of these, Mount Olga, is 1,400 feet above the plain. I found, to my surprise, that the group was laid out in the form of a hollow square, and as I sat in the middle, possibly the first white man to do so, I was surrounded by these huge monoliths. I estimated that 30 were more than 1,000 feet in height, and possibly an equal number were more than 500 feet. Geologically, this is an unknown land. Mount Conner, Ayers Rock, and Mount Olga are entirely different geological formations, and no one knows the reason. I wanted to make sure about the water hole at Katatjuta. Previous reports had indicated that it was neither large nor reliable. "How big is Katatjuta water?" I asked Matinya, who belonged to that country. "Him kapi bulka" (big water). I had been caught on those "kapi bulka" stories before. A water hole of one hundred gallons is a kapi bulka to an aborigine, who requires it only for drinking, but five times that amount would be insufficient for our party and the 12 camels. So I pursued the questioning a little further. "How big is Katatjuta water? Him as big as Mutiguluna or Mungaruka or Inindi?" (Three water holes we both knew.) "Him more big than Mutiguluna, him plenty fella big water," Matinya still asserted. Still I was not satisfied. Mutiguluna, the water near our present camp, was one of the best supplies in the country. It was unlikely that Katatjuta was as large. So I tried again to get some sort of comparison.