Aussie Outback: Northern Territory – Climbing Uluru (Ayers Rock)

In my previous post I shared my visit to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Central Australia Uluru (Ayers Rock) the worlds largest monolith is the centerpiece of the park and one that many visitors wish to climb to the top of. You cannot always do the climb though as it is a sacred place to the Anangu Aboriginals of this region who own the land and lease it to the Australian government.

Ayers Rock Uluru Northern Territory

Sometimes the Anangu will close the rock for spiritual reasons. The path up to the top is a sacred path of spiritual significance only taken by few Aboriginal men on special occasions. Other times the weather such as high winds or extreme heat will not allow it. Either way the Anangu would culturally and for safety reasons prefer you didn’t go up there but it is allowed and that is a personal decision you have to make on the day. It is not bad luck to climb the rock. Their belief is that wisdom is gained from the rocks, trees and dirt at its base so there is no need to go up there plus there are secret traditional reasons. Some of their people want the path closed for ever.

Uluru Ayers Rock rock climb path
The beginning of the path to the top of Uluru

While I have a lot of respect for the Aboriginal culture I made the choice to climb to the top (due to the weather it was not until the third day of my time in the region that I was able to do this – depending on when you visit you may not be able to go up there anyway). Ever since I was a kid I remembered seeing a photo of my Granny and her sister up there in the 1970’s and it was something I had always wanted to do. I have to tell you though, you soon realise it is a lot steeper and a lot higher than it looks from ground level (Uluru stands 348 metres / 1,142 feet tall above the desert floor and is 860 metres  / 2,821 feet above sea level)!

height comparison ayers rock uluru
A great height comparison of Uluru

The 1.6 kilometer / 1 mile trek takes up to two hours and is not easy-going (35-40 people have died trying over the years – mostly from heart attack). You are aided somewhat at the steepest part by a chain that was installed in the 1960’s and extended in the 70’s. Even in hiking shoes I was slipping at times (it fascinated me watching people take it on wearing rubber thongs / flip-flops!). All I can say is be cautious going up there and don’t become a statistic!

path chain ayers rock
The chain along the path to the top
uluru ayers rock climb
Look how small those buses are down below!
ayers rock climb
Getting there

The climb is well worth it. You get an amazing perspective of the rock from the top and the view just seems to go on and on across that vast red earth (be prepared for strong winds up there though). The vast “nothingness” of the Australian outback never fails to impress me.

the view from atop uluru ayers rock
The outback of Central Australia
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) as seen from uluru ayers rock
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) can be seen on the horizon
top of Uluru Ayers Rock
Standing at the highest point of Uluru where my Granny had stood some 30 years before me
the view from atop uluru ayers rock
Amazing views
atop uluru
People are dwarfed by Uluru
the view from atop uluru ayers rock
Water pools remained from rain on the previous day
the view from atop uluru ayers rock
Only the eons of time can weather the rock
the view from atop uluru ayers rock
Enjoy that view

If you do decide to take the climb to the top of Uluru, be as respectful as you can be. Admittedly you have already gone against the wishes of the Anangu but please be sure to do nothing to harm the rock in any way. Enjoy the experience and leave it exactly the way you found it.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Kamila Pala says:

    Wow! Looks like a nice trip! 🙂

    1. Deano says:

      An amazing place 🙂

  2. travelforaircraft says:

    i agree with your choice as well as ethic. I respect local peoples but I don’t think natural features can or should be owned (spiritually or physically) to the point of denying access. Of course, features require protection from the tourist hordes. It appears, happily, a fair balance has been struck. I’m a geologist and am naturally attracted to rock formations so I am heavily biased in this opinion. Glad to see the photos and the erosional features as well as the slope — it is unique as a near monolith in otherwise flat terrain.:)

    1. Deano says:

      Yes its one of those things. Many say the climb is not worth it as there is nothing to see, but they have probably never been to the top!

  3. We visited last August (2016) and the climb was open on our final day in the National Park. We chose not to climb out of respect for the local Anangu people.
    We felt so strongly about it that we also wrote a blog post that will hopefully encourage others to do the same!
    It was quite interesting to read your post from the perspective of someone who chose to climb it though.

  4. marchgeo says:

    Thanks Deano, I feel strongly that we should all be able to enjoy the natural world without being made to feel guilty for it. The Rock was there for millions of years before humans evolved and it will likely be there for millions of years after we have gone. See my blog for more…

    1. Deano says:

      Thanks. I am with you on that.

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