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The secret of the Red Centre is out

You would think that 36 large domes spread over an area of more than 20 kilometres and rising 546m would be a little hard to miss, and yet Kata Tjuta largely remains the undiscovered Red Centre gem.

The secret of the Red Centre is out

Thursday, 11 October 2018

You would think that 36 large domes spread over an area of more than 20 kilometres and rising 546m above the plains (some 200m higher than Uluru) would be a little hard to miss, and yet Kata Tjuta largely remains the undiscovered Red Centre gem. But not for long! Many travellers are uncovering the wonders of this second monolith and some in fact believe it to be best kept secret.

Kata Tjuta, meaning ‘many heads’ in local Pitjantjatjara, and sometimes referred to as The Olgas, is a sacred site for men, and a place where many legends of the Tjukurpa play out. Traditional ceremonies still take place amongst the domes, and as such certain access is restricted, even to local Aṉangu women and cultural stories are unknown and photos of it are relatively rare.

Whilst the cultural stories remain much of a mystery, there is still much to see and experience – choose one of the touring options available, or go it on your own. You can hike it, take a heli, or discover the hypnotic sunrise’s and sunset’s from the dedicated viewing areas.


But to get a true understanding of its size and beauty, it’s worth taking the time to walk through Kata Tjuta’s valleys and gorges. The 2.6km (1.6 miles) return Walpa Gorge Walk is rated grade three, making it suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Over 45 minutes, you wander between the sheer walls of the gorge’s two tallest domes, along a rocky creek bed past rare plants and gum trees. As you walk, listen out for the sound of the wind hissing through the chasms for which the gorge is named. Walpa means “whistle” in the local Indigenous dialect.

At 7.6km (4.7 miles), the Valley of the Winds trek is much longer, but is arguably a more immersive experience. The full circuit takes around three to four hours (best tackled in the cool, early hours of the morning), but it’s possible to walk shorter sections of the track. The 2.2km return walk to Karu Lookout – also rated grade three – winds through Kata Tjuta’s domes, taking walkers through pastel-toned valleys coloured with silver gum trees and mint spinifex over 60 minutes. The 5.4km, 2.5-hour return hike to Karingana Lookout, meanwhile, is rated grade four with some challenging sections, but its climactic end point is a worthwhile reward. As you ascend to the lookout, you’ll be greeted by sights of a lush, improbably green valley – a secret garden of Eden.

See more about the walks available within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.


Having seen the 500 million year old monolith up close, it only makes sense, that to fully appreciate the sheer scale of not just Kata Tjuta, but the Australian outback in general, that you should take to the air, and a heli tour is a fantastic way to do it. Nothing puts a 546 meter high rock in context better than the 327414 acre expanse of desert of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. With varied departure times from sunrise to sunset, there’s plenty of chances to witness both Kata Tjuta and Uluru from the skies.

Hypnotic Sunrises & Sunsets

Like Uluru, Kata Tjuta is arguably at its most spectacular at sunrise and sunset when the colour of the boulders changes, often even appearing to glow. The best places to take in the sight are the Kata Tjuta Dune viewing area at dawn and the Sunset viewing area – with Uluru 30km away in the background – at dusk.

Kata Tjuta is located about 30km (about 45 minutes) from Uluru and is easily accessible by car, via Uluru Hop On Hop Off  or on one of the guided tours that offer a unique or private Kata Tjuta experience.

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Uluru Bicycle Hire (Departure 1)

Take a morning ride around the base of Uluru by bicycle. The 15 kilometre self-guided journey is easily made within 3 hours and can be enjoyed by the whole family. Stop and explore the pure beauty of this spiritual and unique wonder of the world at your own pace. Once you have finished your ride, you are free to explore the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre. Includes return hotel transfers operated by Uluru Hop On & Hop Off. Children toddler seats and tag-a-longs available on request, subject to availability. Departure times: Return transfer from your accommodation by Uluru Hop ON Hop Off 7:15am December 7:45am February 8:30am March 9:30am October and November 10:00am September 10:15am 16-30 April and May 10:30am 1-15 April and June to August Duration approx. 4 hours

1 Day Hop On Hop Off Pass

This 1-day Hop On Hop Off pass gives you the freedom to explore Uluru at your own pace for one day. From sunrise to sunset, hop on and hop off as much as you like throughout the day. Additionally, this pass also entitles you to one bonus transfer to and from Kata Tjuta within the same day. Download timetable and map

15min Rock Blast (Daytime)

Launch off on a rock blasting adventure and take in the sights of Ayers Rock Resort and surrounding desert landscape as you make your way towards Uluru. Enjoy a panoramic view of the breathtaking scenery unique to the Red Centre.  Tour duration approx. 1 hour
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Longitude 131°

Located adjacent to Ayers Rock Resort, Longitude 131° offers an exclusive experience of the Australian Outback, rich in cultural heritage and history.

Emu Walk Apartments

Ayers Rock Resort's 4 star self-contained apartments: Only 20km from Uluru, the newly renovated 1 and 2 bedroom apartments are sheltered behind gardens of native trees. Lowest Price Guarantee.

Ayers Rock Campground

Ayers Rock campground is located only 15km from Uluru and offers cabin accommodation, unpowered and powered sites for caravans, campervans, motor homes and camper trailers. Campground offers modern camping facilities and a playground, pool, supermarket and petrol station.
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Guided Garden Walk

Desert Gardens Hotel is famous for it's magnificent gardens full of local flora. Meet your Indigenous guide at the hotel's reception for a guided tour of these authentic native gardens and an introduction to the many different plants which Anangu relied on for food and medicinal purposes. Tour duration approx. 1 hour.

Ecology & Museum Tour

Wintjiri museum provides an educational display highlighting local history, Aboriginal culture, geology, flora and fauna. On this interpretative tour of the museum your Aboriginal guide will introduce you to the region's unique ecology and classes of mammals and fauna types not found anywhere else in the world.  Gain insights into the Anangu land conservation and management practices as well as a brief historical overview; starting 30,000 years ago with the Aboriginal habitation to the early European explorers, and the development of tourism at Uluru. Tour duration approx. 45 minutes.

Mani Mani Indigenous Cultural Theatre

Mani-Mani Theatre Company’s unique sound, lighting, 3D effects and performance take you on a visually captivating experience transporting you to the ancient lands of Central Australia where the story of Walawuru, Kakalyalya & Kaanka unravels. The symbolic story of Walawuru, Kakalyalya & Kaanka is a tale of love, jealousy and greed. Expressed through ‘Mani-Mani’, the local art form of storytelling, this contemporary Indigenous performance brings to life the ancient ancestral beings Walawuru the Wedge-Tailed Eagle and his two wives; Kaanka the black crow and Kakalyalya the white cockatoo. Walawuru is happy with his two wives but little does he know Kaanka is evil and very jealous of the kind and caring Kakalyalya. The word ‘Mani-Mani’ comes from the Yankunytjatjara & Pitjantjatjara language of the Anangu people of Central Australia. Anangu people would often tell stories by drawing symbols in the sand using a stick taken from a branch of the Mani-Mani tree. The stories were often about ancestors, real events in history and the Tjukurpa creation time.
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3 Day Luxury Itinerary

Enjoy this 2 night Luxury Uluru getaway and experience the unforgettable Tali Wiru dinner under the Central Australian desert night sky. Watch the sun rise over Uluru as the desert awakens and join various Indigenous activities at Ayers Rock Resort. This itinerary is suited to couples or two singles wanting an indulgent Outback stay.

3 Day Best of Uluru Itinerary

Discover the best of Uluru and surrounds with once-in-a-lifetime tours and activities on this 2 night Best of Uluru itinerary. Witness the Field of Light art installation, watch as the sunrises over Uluru and Kata Tjuta and learn about Indigenous culture and traditions in Australia's spiritual heart.

3 Day Uluru Budget Itinerary

Explore Australia's Red Centre on a budget in 2 packed nights. Experience the magic of Uluru. Enjoy a dinner under the stars at the award-winning Sounds of Silence, walk through the Field of Light and discover various guest activities that will provide you with unforgettable memories. This itinerary is designed for those wanting a budget adventure.
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