Uluru. Rock Formation in Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park, Northern Territory


Rock Formation in Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park, Northern Territory

Uluru Pink Sunset Photo © Mark Wassell

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Cascades at
	the Uluru - Uluru
Cascades at the Uluru - Uluru. Photo by Günter
Uluru is one of Australia’s most iconic symbols. Also known as ‘Ayers Rock’, this huge sandstone rock formation rises up out of nowhere from the desert in the Red Centre, the vast desert plains in Central Australia. It is located in the south of the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park in the Northern Territory, about 280 miles southwest of Alice Springs.

The huge rock is easily one of the most recognizable landmarks in Australia. Other iconic sites are the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the Great Barrier Reef. The top of Uluru is 2,831 feet above sea level, while the visible part of the rock is 1,142 feet high. However, most of its bulk lies beneath ground level. It is said that its massive underground bulk is up to 1.6 miles high. The total circumference above ground is 6 miles. The rock’s length is 2.2 miles; its width is 1.2 miles. Uluru is without question the most famous monolith, a huge lone-standing rock, in the world.

Both Uluru and nearby Kata Tjuta (Wikipedia Article) are of great significance to the local Anangu (Wikipedia Article) people and are the major features of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. There are ancient Aboriginal rock paintings on Uluru and the area’s cultural, historical, and religious importance cannot be overestimated.

For a distance, Uluru looks like it is a large and smooth rock, but there are in fact several caves, overhangs, and inlets at its base. The sides are relatively smooth though, with some areas that are affected by sheet erosion.

In the heart of Uluru,
	Explored - Uluru
In the heart of Uluru, Explored. Photo by CameliaTWU


The huge rock has been known as ‘Uluru’ among the local Pitjantjatjara people, who call themselves ‘Anangu’, for thousands and thousands of years. The word has no specific meaning in their language though.

The first European who spotted Uluru was William Gosse in 1873. He named the rock ‘Ayers Rock’ after Sir Henry Ayers, who was the Chief Secretary of South Australia at the time. The two names have been in use ever since.

A dual naming policy was created in 1993, making the two names official. The rock was officially renamed ‘Ayers Rock’/‘Uluru’. In 2002, the order of the names was reversed and the official name became ‘Uluru’/‘Ayers Rock’.

Likewise, nearby Kata Tjuta is also known as ‘Mount Olga’.

 - Uluru
Uluru. Photo by unknown


There is archaeological evidence that proves that the Central Australian regions have been inhabited for more than 30,000 years, an astonishing period of time. However, it must be said that occupation was probably much less during drier phases. About 5,000 years ago, the local Anangu people began using new tools and developed new cultural and social systems. Rock art was created and tools were being made. Their diet changed and their social system allowed every group to have access to water and food. It was a hugely effective system, based on nature and the land, which is shown in the rise in population density in those past 5,000 years.

In the 1870s, the first Europeans arrived in the region. Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta were mapped during expeditions in 1872. William Gosse and Ernest Giles were the first people to explore the area, both members of separate expeditions. The former ‘discovered’ Uluru and named it Ayers Rock, while the latter first sighted Kata Tjuta and named it Mount Olga.

In the late 19th century, pastoralists moved into the area and violent clashes with the local tribes followed. Between 1918 and 1921, large sections of South Australia, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia were declared Aboriginal reserves.

The first tourists arrived about a decade later, in 1936. Bus tours began in 1950 after the first vehicular track was built. In 1958, Ayers Rock-Mount Olga National Park was declared, a name that would later change to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Visiting Uluru

Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) -
	Northern Territories - Australia - Uluru
Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) - Northern Territories - Australia - Uluru. Photo by Angelo Failla
Uluru can be reached from Alice Springs by car via the Stuart Highway and Lasseter Highway. The drive is approximately 280 miles long. There are petrol stations on the way, but visitors are reminded to top off whenever they can. There are several car rental companies in Alice Springs. Visiting is also possible on a guided tour. Getting to Uluru by plane is also possible as the rock has its own little airport. Ayers Rock Airport lies about 9 miles from the rock in the resort town of Yulara and is served by both Qantas and Virgin Australia. The Yulara resort offers the only accommodation in a radius of several hundreds of kilometers.

A three-day entry ticket to the national park costs A$25 ($21).

Similar Landmarks

Uluru is part of the fantastic Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Central Australia is home to many more similar national parks: Finke Gorge National Park, Watarrka National Park, and West MacDonnell National Park.

Another large monolith is Mount Augustus in Western Australia.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Jan 10, 2015

Pictures of Uluru

Uluru. Photo by Corey Leopold

Uluru. Photo by teloro


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