Situated in the Northern Territory, 450 km from Alice Springs, lies one of the most famous, world-recognised icons of Australia – Uluru. Sacred to the Anangu Aboriginal people, it was once known as Ayers Rock, after Sir Henry Ayers, but was returned to its original name in the ‘80s, when such practices were widespread (and appropriate, too).
The Rock, as it is colloquially known, is truly a wonder to behold. If you’ve seen it in pictures and think you know what you’re in for, you’ll be surprised. I won’t say too much on that, as that would spoil the effect of the real life experience, but if you thought the different colours you’ve seen were Photo Shop tricks, or creative manipulations, they aren’t. You can be at Uluru for an hour – and you’ll be there for longer, I think – and you will see different shades in the structure, the soil, the trees and quite possibly the sky.
Majestic, mysterious, ominous, it looms high above you as you circle it. Made of sandstone, the monolith is said to have begun forming over 500 million years ago! It is 348m above the ground (taller than the Eiffel Tower), has a circumference of 9.4km and descends 2.5km below the surface. Does my head in. At one time, I heard a rumour that it was a meteor from way back, but I do not hear that now, so maybe just a conjecture that was swept up in a whirly-whirly (they’re another story).
If you visit in the Summer, or wet season, from October to April (roughly) it can be very hot (up to 45C or more). There are moments of shade, but you should be prepared with water and a hat and take frequent stops. Never underestimate the need for plenty of water on hand.
Uluru was once climbed by all and sundry, but the custodians (the Anangu) would prefer that you do not, as it is a sacred site). When it is very hot, no climbing is allowed due to the danger it presents.
There are a great variety of surfaces and formations to view and some Aboriginal Art.
The ground is flat, but 9.4 km is a fair distance, punctuated by photo stops. You can hire bikes or take your own, to make the journey easier. There are stunning and unexpected waterways and the stories, on plaques along the way, tell of history and culture and are worth the brief read.
There is an information centre with history, culture, facts and artifacts, along with locally made items.
When you’ve finished, gaze to the west and see Kata TJuta – meaning many heads, in Pitjantjatjara. But I’ll do a separate post on that.
From the caravan park at Yulara, where you can get a cabin, motel room or campsite, you can get all the information you need and at sunrise and sunset, great views of Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
There is a national parks fee for entering the area to Uluru and Kata Tjuta, but it lasts for 2 days (at my last visit, last year).