Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park, Northern Territory, Australia
GPS: -25.342869300072, 131.02190211168
Better known as Ayers Rock, the gigantic Uluru inselberg was officially discovered in 1873 by English explorers William Gosse and Ernest Giles. This remote massif in Central Australia is named after Henry Ayers, eighth Premier of South Australia in the 19th century. It is part of the great outback desolate area, marked by its low population density in relation to its great size.
The flat rock of Uluru emerges from the desert of the hot and arid region of the “Red Centre”, known for its remarkably large rocks and sandstone domes formed a few hundred million years ago. The colour shades of its characteristic red stone make is a perfect place, at dusk, to watch the sun rise and set. When the site experiences rare but heavy rains between November and March (rainfall in this arid region is around 300 mm per year), Uluru can generate multiple waterfalls on its walls. On contact with water, the reddish tint of the large rock turns to purple.
With a circumference of almost 10 kilometres at its base, Uluru rises to a height of 348 metres and 860 metres above sea level. This 2.5 kilometres long reddish geological wonder is part of the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park and is one of the largest monoliths in the world. Uluru is surrounded by great desert plains and remains a sacred ancestral site revered by the indigenous people. Their beliefs are based on the traditional principle of Tjukurrpa, “The Dreaming” in the culture of the Aṉangu people. These Aboriginal Australians see themselves as the eternal guardian and protector of this land inhabited by spirits and charged with the forces of the ancestors of the Aborigines. Cave paintings bear witness to their presence here since ancient times. In 1985, the Uluru inselberg and the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park were restored to the Aṉangu groups (speaking the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara dialects). Original inhabitants of the area for 30,000 years, they are the official owners of the site and jointly manage its natural resources with the National Park Service. Another major geological formation much less frequented than Uluru is also part of this Australian outback protected area. It is a set of arkose domes called Kata Tjuṯa with Mount Olga as the highest point (1,070 metres).