Uluru Kata Tjuta

UluruKata Tjuta National Park

The arid “Red Centre” of the Northern Territory is home to Uluru, or Ayers Rock, a massive sandstone monolith. The nearest big city is Alice Springs, 450 kilometers away. The archaeology of Uluru dates back about 550 million years, and it is sacred to indigenous Australians. As part of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the 36 red-rock domes of Kata Tjuta (colloquially “The Olgas”) make up Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Kata Tjuta

Kata Tjuta also called the Olgas

Pitjantjatjara Anangu, the indigenous people of the area, revere Uluru as a sacred site. A number of springs, waterholes, rock caves, and ancient paintings can be found near the formation. UNESCO has listed Uluru as a world heritage site. Uluru and Kata Tjuta, also called the Olgas, are two of the most iconic features of Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park.

The arid “Red Centre” of the Northern Territory is home to Uluru, or Ayers Rock, a massive sandstone monolith. The nearest big city is Alice Springs, 450 kilometers away. The archaeology of Uluru dates back about 550 million years, and it is sacred to indigenous Australians. As part of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the 36 red-rock domes of Kata Tjuta (colloquially “The Olgas”) make up Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Pitjantjatjara Anangu, the indigenous people of the area, revere Uluru as a sacred site. A number of springs, waterholes, rock caves, and ancient paintings can be found near the formation. UNESCO has listed Uluru as a world heritage site. Uluru and Kata Tjuta, also called the Olgas, are two of the most iconic features of Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park. In central Australia, Uluru is a large sandstone rock formation located in the southern part of the Northern Territory, also known as Ayers Rock. There are 335 km (208 mi) or 450 km (280 mi) by road. between it and the nearest large town, Alice Springs,

Pitjantjatjara people, the Anangu, call the landmark Uluṟu. There is no special meaning associated with this word in Pitjantjatjara, although it is used as a local family name by senior Traditional Owners of Uluru.

Ayers Rock was named after the Chief Secretary of South Australia at the time, Sir Henry Ayers, by surveyor William Gosse on 19 July 1873. Both names have been used since then. As of 1993, a dual naming policy has been adopted which allows official names to consist of both the traditional Aboriginal name and the English name. The rock was renamed “Ayers Rock / Uluru” on 15 December 1993, making it the first feature in the Northern Territory with dual names. Following a request from the Regional Tourism Association in Alice Springs, the order of the dual names was officially reversed on 6 November 2002.

Uluru is one of the most recognizable natural landmarks in Australia. Despite being 348 meters high, with most of its bulk underground, the sandstone formation has an overall circumference of 9.4 km (5.8 mi) and rises 863 meters above sea level. Both Uluru and the nearby Kata Tjuta formation have great cultural significance for the Aṉangu people, the Aboriginal people of the area, who provide visitors with information about the flora and fauna, bush foods, and Aboriginal dreamtime stories.

The colour of Uluru changes throughout the day and year, most notably when it glows red at dawn and sunset.

Kata Tjuta, also called Mount Olga or the Olgas, lies 25 km (16 mi) west of Uluru. Special viewing areas with road access and parking have been constructed to give tourists the best views of both sites at dawn and dusk. The rock was originally sand, deposited as part of an extensive alluvial fan that extended out from the ancestors of the Musgrave, Mann and Petermann Ranges to the south and west, but separate from a nearby fan that deposited the sand, pebbles and cobbles that now make up Kata Tjuta.

The similar mineral composition of the Mutitjulu Arkose and the granite ranges to the south is now explained. The ancestors of the ranges to the south were once much larger than the eroded remnants we see today. They were thrust up during a mountain building episode referred to as the Petermann Orogeny that took place in late Neoproterozoic to early Cambrian times (550–530 Ma), and thus the Mutitjulu Arkose is believed to have been deposited at about the same time.

The arkose sandstone which makes up the formation is composed of grains that show little sorting based on grain size, exhibit very little rounding and the feldspars in the rock are relatively fresh in appearance. This lack of sorting and grain rounding is typical of arkosic sandstones and is indicative of relatively rapid erosion from the granites of the growing mountains to the south. The layers of sand were nearly horizontal when deposited, but were tilted to their near vertical position during a later episode of mountain building, possibly the Alice Springs Orogeny of Palaeozoic age (400–300 Ma).

Historically, 46 species of native mammals are known to have been living near Uluru; according to recent surveys there are currently 21. Aṉangu acknowledge that a decrease in the number has implications for the condition and health of the landscape. Moves are supported for the reintroduction of locally extinct animals such as malleefowl, common brushtail possum, rufous hare-wallaby or mala, bilby, burrowing bettong, and the black-flanked rock-wallaby.

The mulgara, the only mammal listed as vulnerable, is mostly restricted to the transitional sand plain area, a narrow band of country that stretches from the vicinity of Uluru to the northern boundary of the park and into Ayers Rock Resort. This area also contains the marsupial mole, woma python, and great desert skink.

The bat population of the park comprises at least seven species that depend on day roosting sites within caves and crevices of Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Most of the bats forage for aerial prey within 100 m (330 ft) or so from the rock face. The park has a very rich reptile fauna of high conservation significance, with 73 species having been reliably recorded. Four species of frogs are abundant at the base of Uluru and Kata Tjuta following summer rains. The great desert skink is listed as vulnerable.

Aṉangu continue to hunt and gather animal species in remote areas of the park and on Aṉangu land elsewhere. Hunting is largely confined to the red kangaroo, bush turkey, emu, and lizards such as the sand goanna and perentie. Of the 27 mammal species found in the park, six are introduced: the house mouse, camel, fox, cat, dog, and rabbit. These species are distributed throughout the park, but their densities are greatest near the rich water run-off areas of Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

Uluṟu–Kata Tjuṯa National Park flora represents a large portion of plants found in Central Australia. A number of these species are considered rare and restricted in the park or the immediate region. Many rare and endemic plants are found in the park. The growth and reproduction of plant communities rely on irregular rainfall. Some plants are able to survive fire and some are dependent on it to reproduce. Plants are an important part of Tjukurpa, and ceremonies are held for each of the major plant foods. Many plants are associated with ancestral beings.

Flora in Uluṟu–Kata Tjuṯa National Park can be broken into these categories:

Punu – trees

Puti – shrubs

Tjulpun-tjulpunpa – flowers

Ukiri – grasses

Trees such as the mulga and centralian bloodwood are used to make tools such as spearheads, boomerangs, and bowls. The red sap of the bloodwood is used as a disinfectant and an inhalant for coughs and colds. Several rare and endangered species are found in the park. Most of them, like adder’s tongue ferns, are restricted to the moist areas at the base of the formation, which are areas of high visitor use and subject to erosion.

Since the first Europeans arrived, 34 exotic plant species have been recorded in the park, representing about 6.4% of the total park flora. Some, such as perennial buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris), were introduced to rehabilitate areas damaged by erosion. It is the most threatening weed in the park and has spread to invade water- and nutrient-rich drainage lines. A few others, such as burrgrass, were brought in accidentally, carried on cars and people. According to the Aṉangu, traditional landowners of Uluru

The world was once a featureless place. None of the places we know existed until creator beings, in the forms of people, plants and animals, traveled widely across the land. Then, in a process of creation and destruction, they formed the landscape as we know it today. Aṉangu land is still inhabited by the spirits of dozens of these ancestral creator beings which are referred to as Tjukuritja or Waparitja.

There are a number of differing accounts given, by outsiders, of Aboriginal ancestral stories for the origins of Uluru and its many cracks and fissures. One such account, taken from Robert Layton’s (1989) Uluru: An Aboriginal history of Ayers Rock, reads as follows:

Uluru was built up during the creation period by two boys who played in the mud after rain. When they had finished their game they travelled south to Wiputa … Fighting together, the two boys made their way to the table topped Mount Conner, on top of which their bodies are preserved as boulders.

Two other accounts are given in Norbert Brockman’s (1997) Encyclopedia of Sacred Places. The first tells of serpent beings who waged many wars around Uluru, scarring the rock. The second tells of two tribes of ancestral spirits who were invited to a feast, but were distracted by the beautiful Sleepy Lizard Women and did not show up. In response, the angry hosts sang evil into a mud sculpture that came to life as the dingo. There followed a great battle, which ended in the deaths of the leaders of both tribes. The earth itself rose up in grief at the bloodshed, becoming Uluru. Kuniya, the woma python, lived in the rocks at Uluru where she fought the Liru, the poisonous snake.

It is sometimes reported that those who take rocks from the formation will be cursed and suffer misfortune. There have been many instances where people who removed such rocks attempted to mail them back to various agencies in an attempt to remove the perceived curse.

Archaeological findings to the east and west indicate that humans settled in the area more than 10,000 years ago. Europeans arrived in the Australian Western Desert in the 1870s. Uluru and Kata Tjuta were first mapped by Europeans in 1872 during the expeditionary period made possible by the construction of the Australian Overland Telegraph Line. In separate expeditions, Ernest Giles and William Gosse were the first European explorers to this area.

While exploring the area in 1872, Giles sighted Kata Tjuta from a location near Kings Canyon and called it Mount Olga, while the following year Gosse observed Uluru and named it Ayers Rock, in honour of the Chief Secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers. Further explorations followed with the aim of establishing the possibilities of the area for pastoralism. In the late 19th century, pastoralists attempted to establish themselves in areas adjoining the Southwestern/Petermann Reserve and interaction between Aṉangu and white people became more frequent and more violent. Due to the effects of grazing and drought, bush food stores became depleted. Competition for these resources created conflict between the two groups, resulting in more frequent police patrols. Later, during the depression in the 1930s, Aṉangu became involved in dingo scalping with ‘doggers’ who introduced Aṉangu to European foods and ways.

Between 1918 and 1921, large adjoining areas of South Australia, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory were declared as Aboriginal reserves, sanctuaries for nomadic people who had virtually no contact with European settlers. In 1920, part of Uluṟu–Kata Tjuṯa National Park was declared an Aboriginal Reserve (commonly known as the South-Western or Petermann Reserve) by the Australian government under the Aboriginals Ordinance.

The first tourists arrived in the Uluru area in 1936. Beginning in the 1940s, permanent European settlement of the area for reasons of the Aboriginal welfare policy and to help promote tourism of Uluru. This increased tourism prompted the formation of the first vehicular tracks in 1948 and tour bus services began early in the 1950s. In 1958, the area that would become the Uluṟu–Kata Tjuṯa National Park was excised from the Petermann Reserve; it was placed under the management of the Northern Territory Reserves Board and named the Ayers Rock–Mount Olga National Park. The first ranger was Bill Harney, a well-recognised central Australian figure By 1959, the first motel leases had been granted and Eddie Connellan had constructed an airstrip close to the northern side of Uluru

On 26 October 1985, the Australian government returned ownership of Uluru to the local Pitjantjatjara Aborigines, with one of the conditions being that the Aṉangu would lease it back to the National Parks and Wildlife agency for 99 years and that it would be jointly managed. An agreement originally made between the community and Prime Minister Bob Hawke that the climb to the top by tourists would be stopped was later broken. The Aboriginal community of Mutitjulu, with a population of approximately 300, is located near the eastern end of Uluru. From Uluru it is 17 km (11 mi) by road to the tourist town of Yulara, population 3,000, which is situated just outside the national park.

On 8 October 2009, the Talinguru Nyakuntjaku viewing area opened to public visitation. The A$21 million project about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) on the east side of Uluru involved design and construction supervision by the Aṉangu traditional owners, with 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) of roads and 1.6 kilometres (1 mi) of walking trails being built for the area.

People enjoying dinner at Sounds of Silence
Kings Canyon
Staying at Kings Creek Station
Couple relaxing at Kings Canyon Resort