About Uluru & Kata Tjuta
Ancient rock formations soar hundreds of metres into the desert sky, surrounded by the Red Centre's unique wildlife and spirit of the Anangu people's Tjukurpa. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park expands across more than 327,414 acres of Australia’s desert outback and is home to two of the world’s most iconic rock formations, Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park is Aboriginal land. The park is jointly managed by its Anangu traditional owners and Parks Australia. The park is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Area for both its natural and cultural values.
Uluru (sometimes called Ayers Rock) - is one of the largest monoliths in the world. Made of arkosic sandstone, Uluru rises 348 metres above the desert floor and has a circumference of 9.4 kilometres.
Interesting facts about Uluru
- Uluru is 348 meters high (or 860 meters above seas level), that is higher than the Eiffel Tower and 2.5 times the height of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
- Uluru has weather extremes, with temperatures reaching over 47 degrees Celsius in summer and dropping down to -7 degrees Celsius in winter. Surprisingly for a desert the park also gets on average around 307mm of rain in a year!
- Uluru is known to change colour depending on the time of day, but is most impressive at sunrise and sunset when it glows stunning red. The red comes from the surface oxidation of the iron rich sandstone. Without this Uluru would look grey.
- Uluru amazingly extends 5 to 6 kilometers below the ground
- Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta were formed 300 million years ago
- The closest town, Alice Springs, is 403km away - or roughly 4-5 hour drive.
- Erosion has left many valleys, caves, ridges, grooves and potholes or plunge pools, altering the appearance of the rock. Whilst the formation of Uluru and Kata Tjuta is an inherent part of Anangu creation stories, geologists explain the making of Uluru from a different perspective.
- Uluru is also an art canvas for local creation stories, with ancient rock paintings found in many locations round Uluru. Created using natural minerals they include geometric symbols such as concentric circles, figures representing animal tracks and the outlines of animals.
Kata Tjuta (sometimes called The Olgas) is roughly a 45 minute drive west of Uluru. The Aboriginal name means "many heads", which is apt, given the impressive 36 domed rock formation that lie in wait.
Interesting facts about Kata Tjuta
- The tallest dome of Kata Tjuta rises 546 meters above the palin (or 1,066 meters above sea level), that is nearly 200 meters taller than Uluru
- Kata Tjuta is sacred under Anangu men's law. Anangu women do not go to Kata Tjuta.
- Kata Tjuta is made of conglomerate rock, a gravel consisting of a mix of pebbles, cobbles and boulders that are cemented by sand and mud. The majority of these pieces are either granite or basalt.
- Access to most areas at Kata Tjuta is restricted to visitors, there are two walks available to the public including Walpa Gorge and Valley of the Winds. This is to ensure protection of the fragile desert environment and allow traditional ceremonies carried out by the Anangu people to continue.
Home to an extensive range of flora and fauna, more than 21 species of native mammals, 178 species of birds, 73 species of reptiles and 418 species of native plants, the National Park is far from sparse, despite its title as a desert.
Due to the low humidity and minimal unnatural light, the outback is also one of the best places to star gaze. You can not only glimpse many constellations that are rarely seen from any other place on earth, but also witness these stars blazing directly above Uluru or Kata Tjuta - truly something special.
The cultural landscapes of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park resonate with meaning. They contain creation stories and the associated knowledge of law, relationships, plants, and animals, all of which live in the shapes and features of the land.
Places where significant events in the Anangu story occurred are held as sacred sites. Anangu have the responsibility and obligation to care for the land in a proper way. As such, tourists are not permitted access to certain significant or sacred sites. Even inadvertent access to these can be sacrilegious.
At Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park some areas are fenced off and sometimes photography is restricted to ensure that visitors do not inadvertently contravene Tjukurpa restrictions.
Ancient Aboriginal history of the Central Australian landscape goes back to the beginning of time, where three significant ancestors, Mala (Rufus-Hare Wallaby), Kuniya (Woma Python) and Liru (Poisonous Snake) of the region play an important role in the creation of the land.
In more recent history, the 1870's, we can date the discovery of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta by the first white explorers of the time to William Gosse and William Giles respectively. Gosse, who was the first to reach Uluru named it Ayers Rock after the Chief Secretary of South Australia at the time, Sir Henry Ayers. Giles, who made it to Kata Tjuta named it The Olgas after the then reigning Queen Olga of Wurttemburg.
In the early 1900's the government declared their ownership of the land and the site was opened to tourists in the 1950's. It was only in 1983 that the land was returned to its rightful owners.
Where to stay at Uluru?
Only 20km from Uluru, Ayers Rock Resort provides a variety of accommodation options and holiday deals for every possible taste and budget - from 5-star Sails in the Desert Hotel to the Ayers Rock Campground and everything in between.
Uluru Tours & Experiences
With over 101 tours and experiences on offer at Uluru (Ayers Rock) and around the Resort there is lots to pick and choose from to guarantee your days are action-packed. Australia's red heart has fun and excitement to offer for all.
For more information on the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park: