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Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park

Photo: Mark Wassell, Pink Sunset (Some rights reserved)

Australia’s Northern Territory boasts nearly 100 national parks and reserves, including two of Australia’s most famous parks — Uluru and Kakadu. The well-known monolith, Uluru (Ayers Rock), 348 meters high, is near the southwest corner of the Territory and may be Australia’s most familiar natural icon.

The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board unanimously voted to ban visitors from climbing the sacred rock from October 26, 2019.

FYI: If you walk right around the base of Uluru, the rock has a circumference of 9.4 km.

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According to the spiritual beliefs of the Anangu People, the traditional owners of Uluru, there are many important sites around Uluru that are sacred or secret significance. Because of this, the Anangu have asked visitors to show respect and not climb Uluru. Visitors are permitted to walk around the monolith, and that’s fine with us.

According to Anangu spiritual belief, there are many important sites around Uluru that are sacred and/or secret and of deep spiritual significance. Because of this, the Anangu like visitors to show respect whilst visiting Uluru. They request that people do not climb Uluru, however you may walk around it.

“If you go around the rock you’ll learn twice as much about the people who use the rock shelter and the rock itself,” says Nugal-warra story-keeper Willie Gordon, who won the juried 2009 Indigenous Tourism and Biodiversity Website Award and recommends visiting the site with local Aboriginal guides.

Uluru rises 348 meters above the plain, more than 860 meters above sea level. Walk right around the base of Uluru, you’ll cover the circumference of 9.4 kilometers or 5.8 miles.

Uluru is made up of coarse-grained arkose (a type of sandstone) that was laid down in horizontal layers. These layers eventually hardened, were uplifted and then tilted almost 90 degrees upwards to their present position.

Some geological specifications: Uluru’s rock is actually grey which has a red iron-oxide coating. The rock rises 348 meters above the desert. It is 3.6 kilometers in length and 2.4 kilometres wide with a 9.4 kilometres circumference on the ground.

Title to the rock was handled to the traditional custodians in 1985 from the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, which granted a 99-year lease on the park.

The proportion of visitors who climb Uluru has dropped. It is estimated that around 38 percent of the visitors made the climb in 2009, down from 74 percent in 1990.

In 2009 the Director of National Parks invited public submissions on a draft plan to guide management over Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The plan recommended that the rock climb be closed on cultural, environmental and safety grounds.

Ananguku ngura nyangatja ka puku lpa pitjama
This is Aboriginal land and we welcome you.

Uluru is 280 miles (450 kilometers) southwest of Alice Springs

The rock formation is an Inselberg– German for ‘island mountain’ – a prominent geological structure that rises from the surrounding plain.

Recommended listening

Uluru, frontier violence, and the Statement from the Heart – Big Ideas – Uluru is a spiritual place for Indigenous people and it looms large in the national imagination. Historian Mark McKenna uncovered a hidden truth about an infamous frontier killing at Uluru in the 1930’s. Indigenous campaigner, Thomas Mayor, believes the “Statement from the Heart” could only have come from Uluru.  Paul Barclay speaks to Mark and Thomas about Uluru, history, truth telling, and the importance of the Uluru statement. Recorded at the Bendigo Writers Festival on May 7, 2021.

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