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.
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.