The showpiece of Central Australia is the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory. This is where the giant stone monoliths Uluru (Ayers Rock) and its neighbor Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) jut into the sky from the red earth below. Uluru is the worlds largest monolith (it is formed from sandstone) and nearby Kata Tjuta is a series of 36 large domed rock formations.
Why does the rock have two names? Uluru is the aboriginal name and Ayers Rock was the name given to it in 1873 by surveyor William Gosse. He named it after the then Premier of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers. The National Park was established in 1950 but the dual name was not officially implemented until December 15th, 1993. The park became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.
Uluru stands 348 metres / 1,142 feet tall above the desert floor and is 860 metres / 2,821 feet above sea level (that’s higher than the Eiffel Tower which is 324 meters / 1,063 feet tall). Its sheer size is highlighted by the fact that the circumference of the rock is 9.4 kilometres (about 5.8 miles). That’s quite the walk but nothing compared to the steep climb to the top (more on that in my next post).
Whilst in the region I visited Uluru at dawn, the middle of the day and at dusk on a number of different days. I wandered around the base and took in the view from each side of the rock. Depending on the light and time of day it can take on red-brown and orange tones. Very spectacular!
I was extremely lucky to be there on a day when it rained. What an incredible difference this made. The rock became almost purple in appearance and also had temporary waterfalls flowing over its side. This was a very unique moment in such a dry and arid place.
It is quite an experience all round visiting Uluru and the scenery does not fail to impress! Uluru is a long way from just about anywhere but you should not miss visiting the region if travelling in Australia.