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Inside Ayers Rock

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Written by Les Murray

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 Inside Ayers Rock is lit
with paired fluorescent lights
on steel pillars supporting the ceiling
of haze-blue marquee cloth
high above the non-slip pavers.
Curving around the cafeteria throughout vast inner space is a Milky way of plastic chairs in foursomes around tables all the way to the truck drivers' enclave.
Dusted coolabah trees grow to the ceiling, TVs talk in gassy colours, and round the walls are Outback shop fronts: the Beehive Bookshop for brochures, Casual Clobber, the bottled Country Kitchen and the sheet-iron Dreamtime Experience that is turned off at night.
A high bank of medal-ribbony lolly jars preside over island counters like opened crates, one labelled White Mugs, and covered with them.
A two-dimensional policeman discourages shoplifting of gifts and near the entrance, where you pay for fuel, there stands a tribal man in rib-paint and pubic tassel.
It is all gentle and kind.
In beyond the children's playworld there are fossils, like crumpled old drawings of creatures in rock.

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