Uluru – Ayers Rock
Uluru, otherwise known as Ayers Rock, is an enormous monolithic rock that rises majestically from the plain around it. It is part of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which also includes the Olgas, a fantastic group of 36 huge red rocks that stand about half an hour’s drive away. Uluru is formed from almost vertical layers of extremely hard sandstone, the surface layer of which has become red as the result of oxidation. On the north-west and south-east sides, erosion has cut into the rock forming channels down which water pours after storms, forming spectacular but short-lived waterfalls.
Uluru and Kata-Tjuta belong to the Anangu Aboriginal people, who manage it in tandem with Parks Australia. It is deeply significant to the Anangu, firstly as a constant source of water and food in this inhospitable desert region, and secondly as a landmark along the Songlines of Anangu culture and mythology.
Most people who visit Uluru try to climb up to the summit, although the Anangu would prefer it if they did not. Every year someone dies making the attempt, and many others have to be rescued. The plateau at the summit affords vast views, and is interesting to explore, but it is a tough climb, and is often windy, sometimes so much so that the climb has to be closed for safety reasons. The 9-km (6 mi) walk around the rock is probably a better option and affords you a good look at various Anangu sites.
What it is: A huge rock, steeped in Aboriginal belief, that seems to rise from the plains.
Why is it important: It is an iconic symbol of Australia.
What is there to see: Kata Tjuta, sunset and sunrise at Uluru, helicopter tours around the rock, King’s Canyon.
You should know: There is an entrance fee.
How do I get there: Travel by air to Alice Springs then by road to Uluru.