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.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
|Jorge Sanchez (Spain):|
I was hitchhiking around Australia. I started in Sydney and went up stopping in interesting places for a few days, such as Brisbane, then Cairns, where I took a boat to Green Island, Mount Isa… etc.
People were very friendly with me, and some drivers who picked me up even gave me food for my journey.
And suddenly on the intersection to the Stuart Highway I got stuck for two days. Very few cars passed by that road. The third day I observed that a tree in front of me had a sign hanged. I crossed the road and read:
- We are hitchhikers and arewaiting here three days so far. Nobody stops. We do not have money, no food, only hope.
Then I walked 20 kilometers to a gas station in Tennant Creek, where I spent the night, and the next day I caught a bus to Alice Springs, from where I bought an excursion to Ayers Rock (Uluru) which I climbed to its top.
Climbing the rock was very popular (it was the year 1983). Even groups climbed together and once on the top they celebrated it drinbking bottles of champoagne without coercion.
I spent several hours on the top. I signed a book (yes, there was even a visitors book!) and then went down. A chain along the rock was very helpful to avoid accidents.
The second day I went to Mount Olga, or Kata Tjuta, and made a long trekking during a whole day.
Back in Alice Sprinng I took a bus Adelaide, because in those days nobody picked you up in their cars..
| Date posted: July 2013|
|Emilia Bautista King (U.S.A.):|
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!
| Date posted: February 2006|
When I went there, wow! I could'nt believe it. If ever there was a monolith competition it would win.
| Date posted: August 2005|
|Klaus Freisinger (Austria):|
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.
|Drew Kimmorley (Australia):|
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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