Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a striking physical landscape that contains two rock formations which contrast sharply with the surrounding sand plains and desert. The area holds numerous sites sacred to the local Aboriginal people, the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara.
The park was first accepted as a natural WHS in 1987. Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (Mount Olga) are isolated remnants left after the slow erosion of an original mountain range. The Uluru rock was originally sand, deposited as part of an extensive alluvial fan. The layers of sand were nearly horizontal when deposited, but were tilted to their near vertical position during a later episode of mountain building. Uluru rock is 348m high, and a further two-thirds of it is beneath the sand. The 36 domes of Kata Tjuta are composed of conglomerate, a sedimentary rock consisting of cobbles and boulders of varying rock types.
In 1994 Uluru-Kata Tjuta was renominated under cultural criteria, to be recognized as a cultural landscape. It illustrates the combined works of nature & man by making use of the physical constraints and opportunities of the landscape. It also is an associative landscape via the spiritual relationship the Aboriginal owners have with the land. About 80 people still live inside the park and survive by hunting and gathering.
In 1985, the Australian government returned ownership of Uluru to the local Aborigines, with one of the conditions being that they would lease it back to the National Parks and Wildlife agency for 99 years and that it would be jointly managed.
Visit April 2011
This site sees an unbelievable 400,000 to 500,000 visitors a year. All travel for hours just to see these rocks in the desert. You can fly in from Australia's major cities, or drive from the next city Alice Springs (445 kms away). I did the latter, visiting Uluru on an overnight trip and staying in the resort town of Yulara. Yulara itself is a sight to behold: it was only developed in 1975 to keep the tourists out of the park. It has just one loop road, a couple of hotels, restaurants, a petrol station and a supermarket. All are owned by the monopolist Ayers Rock Resort, which keeps prices sky high. I paid 175 EUR for a night in a budget room at the Outback Lodge, the cheapest of the 4 hotels in the area. The room came with a spray can to kill resident pests. I used it.
After dumping my backpack at the lodge, I drove straight on to Uluru. Somehow you get the feeling here that there is no time to lose, as if The Rock is calling for you. On the way up I stopped at the Cultural Center for an introduction. It has exhibits about the Aboriginal traditions surrounding Uluru. Like in Kakadu NP, I found these stories and what they involve hard to grasp.
Finally I came to the base of the rock. I had a strange sense of arriving at somewhere very remarkable, a WHS with a real Wow!-factor. The attraction is unexplainable however - it might be a combination of its remoteness, the heat and the striking colours (green bushes/red rock/blue sky). This is definitely a WHS that deserves Criterion no. vii: exceptional natural beauty.
I walked around part of the base, having a look at the weathered surface and some of the rock painting. Sacred areas are fenced off and no photos are allowed. Climbing the rock however is still possible and many tourists do it. ICOMOS, like the Aborigine owners, advised to abolish this practice, condemning the "intrusive handrail" and "endless procession of human ants".
Together with some 80 other tourists I waited for the sunset over Uluru. They even have designated sunset-viewing points here, with ample parking as if in a drive-in cinema. Watching sunset or sunrise is one of the most popular things to do here: Uluru is notable for appearing to change colour as the different light strikes it. The colours turn from ochre-brown into orange, red and finally charcoal grey after the sun has set.
The next morning I got up early to see the other rock formation, Kata Tjuta, while it was still relatively cool. Kata Tjuta (meaning: 'many heads', for its 36 domed rocks) lies 35 km west of Uluru. There I started the Valley of the Winds trail, a 7.4 km loop hike. It involves a little climbing and there are lots of loose rocks - not my favourite surface. There are also numerous flies, so you'll loose a lot of energy just swaying them all the time. It was nice to see Kata Tjuta up-and-close though, its domes like bowls of chocolate icecream. For real good hiking in this region, I can recommend the West Macdonnells near Alice Springs.
Michael Turtle - November 2016
A few hours on the ground is long enough to feel the energy of Uluru but not long enough to become absorbed by it. Many parts of the site – including the entire northeastern face – are designated as sacred areas because of their significance to the indigenous inhabitants. That means people aren’t allowed to take photos of these areas and so it’s likely you’ve never seen images of them before. These, in particular, are the places that I would like to have spent more time looking at, thinking about, being a part of.
Read more from Michael Turtle here.
Jay T - February 2016
Uluru is one of the iconic symbols of Australia, and for good reason. This desert monolith in the center of the continent is as awe-inspiring as pictures suggest, and I highly enjoyed the time I spent at Uluru and the neighboring rock domes of Kata Tjuta in June 2012. Uluru and Kata Tjuta were not just inscribed as a World Heritage Site for their natural component, but also for their cultural component. To that end I very much enjoyed learning about the Anangu culture through visiting the Uluru cultural center and by taking the Kuniya walk to the Mutitjulu Waterhole at the base of the monolith, a hike that includes views of rock art and displays about desert living. Kata Tjuta also had memorable hiking opportunities, including a trail through a gorge and an amazing walk through the Valley of the Winds. The unforgettable highlight of any trip to Uluru and Kata Tjuta is watching the fascinating range of color shifting on the rocks at sunrise and sunset, and I was not disappointed. Just as spectacular for me was the opportunity to view the vast southern sky at night, unpolluted by nearby civilization and replete with constellations I rarely see.
Logistics: Uluru/Ayers Rock is fastest to reach by air, although it is also accessible by road. I recommend renting a car locally to access the various trailheads and viewpoints at Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
Emilia Bautista King - February 2006
When I visited Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the biggest question among my group of fellow travellers was "Are you going to climb up the rock?". Many indigenous people hold Uluru to be sacred and should therefore not be a place to climb. Others are pleased that Uluru is a tourist spot that brings in money. I decided to walk around the base of Uluru and found that I could take in its textures and colours just as well as if I had climbed it. What an eerie and beautiful place!
Fin - August 2005
When I went there, wow! I could'nt believe it. If ever there was a monolith competition it would win.
The day I was there was cool, rainy, and foggy (and I had thought I was in the desert), but still the mountain exudes a magical charm and is a must-see site. I almost managed to hike around it, but it really was too muddy for that! At least I could understand why people from all over the world make such a fuss about it. Really worth seeing.
my name is Drew Kimmorley, I really like Uluru because it is a great place to visit and a great place to just hang out and relax. If you ever get home form work and you want to relax and have fun. Just head out to uluru for the time of your life.
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Full name: Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
1994 - ExtendedExtended to include cultural criteria
1987 - InscribedReasons for inscription
The site has 18 connections. Show all
- Individual Mountains Uluru - 863 m
Religion and Belief
WHS on Other Lists
- World Biosphere Reserves Uluru (Ayer's Rock Mount Olga) (1977)
World Heritage Process
- Associative Cultural Landscape Cultural Landscape & criterion vi: The dramatic monoliths of Uluru and Kata Tjuta form an integral part of the traditional belief system of one of the oldest human societies in the world. (AB ev)
- Name changes The additon of Cultural cirteria being used as a trigger for "name change" - "Uluru-Kata Tjuta NP" was originally "Uluru (Ayers Rock- Mt Olga) NP" in 1989 and the change took place on the occasion of the addition of Cultural Criteria in 1994.