As a photographer, it’s impressive to virtually travel around the world using Google Maps and accessing their amazing repository of data and imagery. Today, Google has extended their reach by announcing a collaboration with the Indigenous Australians, specifically the Anangu — world’s oldest continuing culture — of the central desert.
Two years ago, Australian engineers started working with the traditional owners of Uluru and Kata Tjuta — as well as Parks Australia and Tourism NT — to create an online experience of the sacred area through Google Maps — Street View. Fast forward two years and the epic 348 metre high iconic landmark can now be explored in 360-degrees from the comfort of your home (or office) via a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone.
Using the portable, backpack based Google Street View camera, Lindsey Dixon, of Northern Territory Tourism, walked the area and grounds around the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Images of the site had to be captured with respect to local Tjukurpa law. This means that areas that are too sacred to photograph had to be omitted from the map.
The addition of Uluru and Kata Tjuta aims to introduce international visitors to the site and the Tjukurpa — traditional Aboriginal lore. In keeping with the wishes of traditional owners, it does not climb the rock, but winds through significant areas and offers different perspectives of the startling site.
Although the Google “tracker”, a backpack-mounted 360-degree camera, has already gone through many national parks and heritage sites around the world this project goes further by adding Story Spheres and incorporating recordings of traditional song and stories as users explore the region virtually.