Stories of Uluru
The cultural heart of Australia
Soaring hundreds of metres into the desert sky, Uluru and Kata Tjuta are dramatic fixtures of the Outback landscape. But they’re so much more than giant rocks – these are sacred, revered spaces that hold a special place in the hearts and beliefs of Australia’s Indigenous population. In fact, the Indigenous believe that Uluru isn’t a rock at all, but a living, breathing being.
When you visit Uluru and Kata Tjuta, please be mindful of areas that are sacred and avoid disturbing or photographing these spots. If you’re unsure of which places are considered sacred, sign up for a guided tour. Just being close to these incredible sites is a magical experience you’ll never forget.
One of the largest monoliths in the world, Uluru is made of arkosic sandstone and rises 348m above the desert floor, with a circumference of 9.4km. It also extends 5-6km below ground, proving that there’s more to this place than meets the eye! Erosion has created many valleys, caves, ridges, grooves, and plunge pools, and the appearance of the rock has changed over time.
Uluru was formed 300 million years ago. According to Indigenous history, the Central Australian landscape dates back to the beginning of time, when three ancestors, Mala (Rufus-Hare Wallaby), Kuniya (Woma Python) and Liru (poisonous snake) of the region play an important role in creating the land. Uluru was first located by explorers in the 1870s, when William Gosse and William Giles arrived in the Outback. Gosse named Uluru Ayers Rock after the Chief Secretary of South Australia at the time, Sir Henry Ayers. Giles named Kata Tjuta “The Olgas” after the then-reigning Queen Olga of Wurttemburg. In the early 1900s the government declared their ownership of the land and it was only in 1983 that it was returned to its rightful owners.
At and around Uluru and Kata Tjuta, ancient Indigenous artwork tells stories of creation, law, relationships, plants, and animals. Places where significant events in the Anangu story occurred are sacred today. The Anangu have the responsibility and obligation to care of the land, and as such, there are areas where visitors are not permitted to access or photograph.
Plants and Animals
Uluru and Kata Tjuta are home to more than 20 species of native mammals, 178 species of birds, 73 species of reptiles, and 418 species of native plants. Despite being a desert, this region is far from sparse. Low humidity and minimal artificial light make it one of the best places on earth for stargazing, and many constellations can be clearly seen.
Just 45 minutes’ drive west of Uluru you’ll find Kata Tjuta, the slightly lesser-known (but just as impressive) neighbouring rock formation. Soaring 546m above the plain, Kata Tjuta is considered sacred under Anangu men’s law. Anangu women do not go to Kata Tjuta. While most areas are restricted to visitors, there are two walks available: Walpa Gorge and Valley of the Winds. This restriction ensures the fragile desert ecosystem is protected and allows traditional Anangu ceremonies to continue. The name Kata Tjuta means “many heads”, an appropriate description given the 36 domed rock formations that make up the structure.
How to Explore Uluru and Kata Tjuta
To visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, you’ll need to purchase a park pass before you arrive. Guests at Ayers Rock Resort can choose from more than 100 tours and experiences to give them a unique, up-close encounter with Uluru, from awe-inspiring sunrise and sunsets to camel rides, segway tours, interpretive walks, and plenty more!
Stories from Ayers Rock Resort
Read all about visiting Uluru and Kata Tjuta, learn about their cultural significance, and discover tips and tricks for making the most of your getaway.