Giant cross erected in the Australian outback

Giant cross erected in the Australian outbackA 20 metre cross, which took more than a decade to build, has been unveiled in a remote part of Central Australia. It’s located in Ikuntji, more than 230 kilometres west of Alice Springs. Landscape photographer Ken Duncan has led the project, raising several million dollars through private donations. Community members hope the site will be a meeting place for locals and create economic opportunities through tourism.

After more than a decade, a vision to build a giant cross in a remote Aboriginal community in Central Australia has become a reality.

First proposed in 2009 by residents of Haasts Bluff (Ikuntji), 230 kilometres west of Alice Springs, the 20-metre-high, multi-million-dollar steel monument was last month erected atop Memory Mountain.

The project has been spearheaded by renowned landscape photographer Ken Duncan, who was approached by community members to help realise their dream.

Through his Christian charity, Mr Duncan has raised millions of dollars from private donors to fund the cross, which locals say will serve as a spiritual meeting place and create job opportunities.


Giant cross monument on Memory Mountain
Mr Duncan says hundreds of donors from across the world have contributed to the project.(ABC Alice Springs: Lee Robinson)



Engaging with culture

When senior members of the community approached Mr Duncan in 2009 to help bring their vision to life, the photographer at first did not want to get involved, but eventually relented. “I thought they had a good vision, so I said, ‘If you need my help, I will help you’,” Mr Duncan said.

“I must admit I was thinking it would be a couple of four-by-twos [wood pieces] and a couple of bags of cement, but it evolved from that.

“They’re family to me — they’re my friends — they really showed me they wanted it, so that’s why I wanted to help.”

The final element of the monument is expected to be completed by the end of the year, when solar-powered LED lights will be installed to illuminate the cross.

Mr Duncan said a company — Memory Mountain Limited — had been established to support the development of the project, with a board made up of Indigenous people living in the surrounding communities, as well as Mr Duncan and his wife, Pam.

“It’s not about my vision,” Mr Duncan said.

“These people want to be able to have their own finances, to be able to buy their own cars, to own their own houses, and they want jobs for their kids, but they want jobs in community.

“It needs to have engagement of Indigenous people — that’s what people want, and people want to understand the culture more.”

He said there were plans to built an information shelter, toilets and camping facilities at the base of the mountain so the site could be developed into a small-scale tourist precinct.



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