Uluru , also known as Ayers Rock , is a red stone monolith that rises in northern Australia. It is revered by Aboriginal people as a sacred place and sticks out on a flat plain like the dorsal fin of a huge red whale.
This mysterious peak boasts a great deal of history for every century of its many millions of years of existence. Uluru, along with the nearby rock formation of Kata Tjuta (“Many Heads”), have been part of Kata Tjuta National Park since 1977.
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Mount Uluru in numbers.
- Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is 3.4km long and 2km wide. Its perimeter is about 9 km.
- The visible part of Uluru rises 348 m above the plain, but about 6,000 m of this rock formation is hidden under the surface. The maximum height above sea level is 869m.
- Uluru is made up of red sandstone, formed 600 million years ago.
- Uluru was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.
In 1985 the Australian government officially returned both of these complexes, Uluru and Kata Tjuta, to the Aboriginal Northern Territories. The national park sits on their sacred land, the place where they believe life itself once originated.
Uluru can only be considered a geographical wonder because of its size. The red sandstone monolith projects an average of 348 m above the plain, and its highest point is 869 m above sea level. The visible part of the mountain is 3.4 km long and 2 km wide. Its perimeter is about 9 km. The monolith was formed about 680 million years ago, pushed out of the Earth’s interior under tremendous pressure. Tectonic activity has compacted the clay and gravel and pushed them to the surface.
Uluru Rock is formed by nearly vertical layers of extremely resistant sandstone, the surface of which has turned red as a result of oxidation. On the northwest and northeast sides, erosion has cut deep channels in the rock, from which water rushes during the rains, making spectacular but short-lived waterfalls.
Most tourists try to climb to the top, though locals would prefer not to. Every year someone is sure to die, and others have to be rescued. There are beautiful views from the plateau at the top of the cliff, it is interesting to explore the summit, but the ascent is very difficult, and if strong winds are blowing, sometimes you have to close the trail. The trail around the cliff is 9 km long, and it may be worthwhile to follow it and explore the various sites associated with the Anangu culture.
Like islands in the ocean, the Kata Tiuta complex looms on the horizon 50 km from Uluru. The first European to see Kata Tiuta in 1872 was Ernest Giles. He named the mountains “Olgas,” after Queen Olga of Wurttemberg, the patroness of science and art in the 19th century.
Kata Tjuta is clearly younger than Uluru, only 300 million years old. The rocks are not made of red sandstone like Uluru, but of many layers of gravel cemented by sand and clay. Among the forming rocks are fragments of granite, gneiss and volcanic rocks.
The local Anangu tribe considers both Uluru and Kata Tiuta to be sacred places where a battle between snake men took place in ancient times. They tell of a female python, Kunia, who crawled to Uluru to lay her eggs. As she finished laying, she heard that a venomous liru, a brown snake, had killed her nephew. Eager for revenge, Kunia crawled to the foot of Uluru, to a place called Mutityulu. There she met one of Liru’s servants. She tried to enchant him with a dance, but the servant lifted her up in laughter. In anger she grabbed a handful of sand and threw it on the ground. And where the grains of sand fell, both trees and grasses became poisonous. But the servant Liru kept laughing. Finally Kunia grabbed her stick (vana) and struck him on the head. Her rage was so great that the second blow killed Liru’s servant. The deep indentations from the blows of her stick are still visible on Uluru – they are imprinted in the stone. Kunia and her nephew turned into rainbow snakes. They still live in Mutitulu and look after the Anangu tribe.
The Anangu, like most Aboriginal Australians, believe that the earth is a physical manifestation of the Dream (Tjukurpa), the timeless moment when the world was created. At that time, ancestral spirits inhabited the earth in the form of humans and animals. Some of these spirits crawled out of the earth in the form of giant snakes, and it was they who gave the planet its present form. The ancestral spirits also gave the laws that the Anangu follow to this day. Thus, these ancient beliefs are an important part of Aboriginal spiritual culture. The natives believe that the sacred place of Uluru is endowed with a special power, it is the door between the world of people and spirits. Anangu do not get tired of warning that Uluru to this day takes a human life and those who have climbed the mountain unlucky. Some do not believe these legends, but regular mysterious cases of wicked tourists confirm that in many respects the natives are right.
Ayers Rock is a true natural wonder, unparalleled not only on the Australian mainland, but also in the world.
This unique mountain, isolated from all mountain ranges, is located in Central Australia, in the very south of the Northern Territory, a special federal unit of the state. Ayers Rock is visited by almost every tourist visiting the mainland. This is due to its convenient location in the center of the continent: 18 km north of the site is a small resort in Yulara with developed infrastructure and its own airport.
What is Ayers Rock
There are several versions of the origin of the mountain, the main ones being the following:
- According to scientists, in ancient times Uluru Rock was part of a mountain range that formed an entire island on the salt lake Amadius. The peculiarity of this body of water is that it both in ancient times and now dries up in the dry season. Researchers believe that erosion – the gradual erosion of rocks – led to the formation of the famous top of Ayers Rock in Australia. The products of mineral erosion have been deposited at the bottom of the lake for centuries, forming a huge rock.
- Some ufologists believe that the mountain of Ayers Rock in the photo looks too unusual and mysterious, so it can not have an earthly origin. After all, the rock looks very much like a huge elephant that has fallen on its side. According to their calculations, it is a giant meteorite that landed on the plain several thousand years ago, or even a product of alien civilizations.
The rock is almost 350 meters high. To walk around its perimeter, you have to be patient: Mount Uluru (as the Australian natives call it) is almost 4 km long and 3 km wide. This is an impressive rock formation of unusual oval shape, which is about 700 million years old.
Interestingly, the rock received its European name after Henry Ayers, who governed the province of South Australia. To perpetuate the name of a prominent politician in the 1870s decided scientist William Goss, but the natives in the second half of the twentieth century insisted on giving the Uluru monolith its original name.
From a distance the summit looks perfectly smooth, but when you get closer to it, you can see microscopic cracks and quite noticeable grooves on the surface. They are located parallel to each other, and some of them are up to 2 m deep. At the base of Uluru Rock are some of Australia’s most mysterious caves, decorated with original rock carvings and patterns carved right into the rock.
Although the mountain sits in the middle of a desert region, it gets hit by hurricanes and heavy rainfall every year. So be sure to check the weather forecast before you travel. The climate near Ayers Rock is impressive with wide fluctuations in temperature: It is very cold here at night, up to frosts, and during the day the thermometer can rise up to +38 ° C. During the trip be sure to bring warm clothes (if you plan an evening walk), and sunscreen to avoid getting burned.
Cracking of the monolith can be explained by similar weather conditions. When heated, the natural stone expands, sharply changing its contraction at night because of the abrupt cooling. The rock itself is made up of reddish sandstone, which changes its color constantly depending on the level of light. During the day its color varies from deep purple and purple to pink and gold. The metamorphosis of color continues steadily throughout the day, and at night Uluru turns into a giant dark tower against the desert background.
The sandstone of Ayers Rock has a coarse-grained structure and is the product of the destruction of natural granite. It contains quartz minerals, feldspar, and iron oxides, giving the peak its characteristic red-brown hue.
Although Uluru has long been part of a national park and a tourist attraction, it does have sacred significance to Aboriginal Australians.
According to Aboriginal mythology, a python inhabiting a local body of water was thought to be the master of the rock, and a black monitor lizard made a home on the slopes. In honor of these sacred animals, locals still hold rituals at the foot of Ayers Rock today.
The Anangu tribe, who have lived here since time immemorial, have a special relationship with Uluru. Their legends say it was created by fairy giants. Thanks to the spring gushing from the bowels of the earth and secluded caves, the ancestors of today’s natives were able to survive in the unfriendly desert, so the rock is revered by their descendants as a nurse. Many species of Australian fauna still come to the spring flowing at the base of the rock for water.
In certain places on the mountain you can see interesting rock art depicting the Native gods: Malu, Kunia and Lyra. According to legend, they took the images of a kangaroo, a python, and a brown snake, respectively.
Excursions to Ayers Rock
A trip to Uluru can be combined with a visit to Kata Tuta Nature Reserve. It is more than 450 km from the small town of Alice Springs. Local guides are happy to take you to the top of the cliff along a fairly steep path, about 2 km long, with views of the nearby desert and small groves of acacia and eucalyptus trees at the foot. Here you can also see huge indentations in the stone, reminiscent of the footprints of giant beasts and giants.
After that, you will be invited to explore the other attractions of Kata Tiuta, as the transition to them will be quite fast. Particular among them are 36 small rocks, forming a dome and covering an area of about 40 km 2 . The height of the dome exceeds 500 m.
Entrance to Kata Tiuta Park, where Ayers Rock is located, is paid. The reserve is open for viewing all year round. The cost of the ticket is:
- for an adult – 25 AUD;
- AUD 12.5 for children aged 5 to 15;
- Children under 4 years are free;
- family ticket – 65 AUD.
Connoisseurs recommend visiting Uluru from May to September, when the weather remains quite warm, but it rarely rains and you don’t have to get there in the mud. From December to February the weather is very hot, so it is best to go on such a trip before 11.00 and take plenty of water with you. The park is open to visitors from 5:00 to 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. depending on the month. There are several hotels and restaurants in the vicinity of Uluru.
How to get to Uluru Rock
There are two ways to get to Ayers Rock and Kata Tiuta National Park:
- By plane. The local airport regularly receives Virgin Blue and Jestar flights from Sydney. The flight takes no more than 3 hours. Ayers Rock Airport has a car rental service.
- By car. The Adelaide to Ayers Rock road trip will be very enjoyable as you see the sights of Alice Springs, the Royal Canyon and other famous attractions in Australia. It takes 4.5 hours to drive from Alice Springs to Uluru.
A trip to Ayers Rock will give you the most insight into Australia’s extraordinary nature, landscape and climate.