Kata Tjuta, also known as Mount Olga (or colloquially as The Olgas),
are a group of large domed rock formations located about 365 km
southwest of Alice Springs in the southern part of the NT. Uluru, 25 km
to the east and Kata Tjuta form the two major landmarks within the
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Kata Tjuta represents nature on a
monumental scale, with the cluster’s tallest peak being 200m
higher than Uluru, which sits 40km to the east. Much like its
geological cousin, Kata Tjuta is most spectacular when viewed at
sunrise or sunset.
The 36 domes, covering an area of 21.68 km2, are composed of
conglomerate, a sedimentary rock consisting of cobbles and boulders of
varying rock types including granite and basalt, cemented by a matrix
of sandstone. The highest point, Mount Olga, is 1066 m above sea level,
or approximately 546 m above the surrounding plain (203 m higher than
The site is as sacred to the Indigenous people as Uluru. There are
many Pitjantjatjara Dreamtime legends associated with this place and
indeed everything in the vicinity including, of course, Uluru. A number
of legends surround the great snake Wanambi who is said to live on the
summit of Mount Olga and only comes down during the dry season. Many
ceremonies were, and are still carried out here, particularly at night.
One of these former ceremonies included a type of public punishment
that in extreme cases included death.
This area is important and is sacred under Anangu men’s law.
According to these laws, details of the stories cannot be revealed
and access to some areas is restricted. You are encouraged to
visit this place but as with all sunset viewing areas of the Park,
please stay on the marked tracks.
Below: Queen Olga of Wurttemberg
The Pitjantjatjara name Kata Tjuta means 'many heads'. The
alternative name, The Olgas, comes from the tallest peak, Mt. Olga. At
the behest of Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, Mt. Olga was named in 1872
by Ernest Giles, in honour of Queen Olga of Wurttemberg. She and
her husband, Charles I of Württemberg, had marked their 25th
wedding anniversary the previous year by, amongst other things, naming
Mueller a Freiherr (baron), making him Ferdinand von Mueller; this was
his way of repaying the compliment.
Queen Olga (1822-1892) was a member of the Russian imperial family
who became Queen Consort of Württemberg. She was the second
daughter of Nicholas I of Russia and Charlotte of Prussia. Attractive,
cultured and intelligent, she was considered to be one of the most
eligible princesses in Europe. She spoke several languages, and was
fond of music and painting. She and her husband had no children,
probably because of Charles’ homosexuality. Olga’s husband
became the object of scandal several times for his closeness with
On 15th December 1993, a dual naming policy was adopted that allowed
official names consisting of both the traditional Aboriginal name and
the English name. As a result, Mount Olga was renamed Mount Olga (Kata
Tjuta). On 6th November 2002, following a request from the regional
Tourism Association, the order of the dual names were officially
reversed to Kata Tjuta (Mount Olga).