Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Uluru, also referred to as Ayers Rock, is an iconic sandstone rock formation and one of Australia's most recognisable natural icons. The world-renowned sandstone formation stands 348 m high (863 m above sea level) with most of its bulk below the ground, and measures 9.4 km in circumference in is located the southern part of the Northern Territory.

The rock lies 335 km south west of the nearest large town, Alice Springs; 450 km by road. Uluru is listed as a World Heritage Site.

Both Uluru and its neighbour Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) have great cultural significance for the Anangu Traditional landowners, who lead walking tours to inform visitors about the local flora and fauna, bush foods and the Aboriginal dreamtime stories of the area. It has many springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient paintings.

The local Anangu do not climb Uluru because of its great spiritual significance. They request that visitors not climb the rock, partly due to the path crossing a sacred traditional Dreamtime track, and also due to a sense of responsibility for the safety of visitors to their land.

The Anangu believe they have a spiritual connection to Uluru, and feel great sadness when a person dies or is injured whilst climbing. However they are resigned to the fact that 10% of the people who visit Uluru do climb it. The climb is strenuous, and on average, one person per month dies either directly (quite a number wander too far and fall off the edges) or indirectly as a result of climbing the rock.

Uluru is notable for appearing to change colour as the different light strikes it at different times of the day and year, with sunset a particularly remarkable sight when it briefly glows red. Although rainfall is uncommon in this semi-arid area, during wet periods the rock acquires a silvery-grey colour, with streaks of black algae forming on the areas that serve as channels for water flow.

Exploring Uluru

The Cultural Centre is the perfect first stop in the park and the best spot to start learning about Anangu culture and Anangu country. Free Ranger guided walks run daily from the Base of Uluru. Guided along a shaded track, the Rangers tell the story of the Mala (rufous hare wallaby) Tjukurpa, and describe the history and traditions associated with Uluru, including traditional and contemporary Anangu life and culture, rock art, and the management of the park. The walk takes approximately 1.5 hours and is wheelchair accessible. There are numerous self guided walks available, including the base walk which is a 10.6 km loop taking 3 to 4 hours to complete.

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Its name: The local Pitjantjatjara people call the landmark Uluru. This word has no particular meaning in their language, also known as Pitjantjatjara, but it is also used as a local family name by the senior Traditional Owners of Uluru.

On 19th July 1873, the surveyor William Gosse visited Uluru and named it Ayers Rock in honour of the then-Chief Secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers. Since then, both names have been used, although Ayers Rock was the most common name used by outsiders until recently.

How To Get There: Uluru can be accessed via Uluru Airport, 15 km from Uluru beyond the park's northern border. Visitors are required to pay a National Park entry fee. Visitors can also drive along the Lasseter Highway which joins the Stuart Highway. 200 km south of Alice Springs at the township of Erldunda. The drive is 4 1/2 hours from Alice Springs.

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