aus uluru
Au nt kata tjuta scenic helicopter flight tourism NT Shaana Mc Naught
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aus camp fire
aus uluru
Au nt kata tjuta scenic helicopter flight tourism NT Shaana Mc Naught
Au red centre dirt road personal detailed page partner cars compact
aus camp fire
The spirit of Australia

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

To connect to the spirit of Australia, head deep into the Red Centre and visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Home to two unique geological attractions: Australia’s most iconic landmark, Uluru (Ayers Rock), and the nearby Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). Be captured by nature’s greatest spectacles, and learn about this ancient land through stories of the Dreamtime. A sacred place for Indigenous people for tens of thousands of years. Are you ready to explore the heart of Australia?

Marvel at the world's largest single rock monolith
© Tourism Australia/ Tourism NT
Red Center | Australia nature
Walk through otherworldly landscapes at Kata Tjuta
© TravelEssence

Where is the park?

The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is 132,566 hectares and bursts with a powerful spiritual presence. It is located about 447 kilometres west of Alice Springs in the Outback of the Northern Territory. You can reach it via the Stuart Highway and the Lasseter Highway. It was founded in 1958 and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1987. Uluru is sacred to the Pitjantjatjara Anangu (the Indigenous people of the area).

All tourist accommodations, from hotels to camping sites, are located just outside the park in Yulara, 20 kilometres north of Uluru. Here you will also find an airport with flights linked to all major Australian airports, and a visitor centre.

Visit the Cultural Centre

To deepen your understanding of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and support the local community, make sure to visit the Cultural Centre at the start of your trip. Exhibits and free presentations with Anangu and park rangers will teach you about Anangu culture and the park’s natural environment. This is where you will also find a visitor information desk and two Indigenous art galleries showcasing Anangu art and crafts – Maruku Arts and Walkatjara Art.

Learn the ancient stories told by Indigenous dot painting
© Tourism and Events Queensland
Join a small group and follow the roads less travelled
Driving to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is easy and comfortable

Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Rising above a vast, flat desert landscape covered in red earth, is the gigantic sandstone monolith Uluru. A true Aussie icon and a must-see in your Australian itinerary. Uluru is believed to be at least 600 million years old. It is 348 metres high, 9.4 kilometres in circumference and one of the largest freestanding rock outcrops in the world. In fact, only a small part of the rock is visible: by far the largest part is hidden deep in the earth.

The name Ayers Rock was given in 1873 by explorer William Christie Gosse in tribute to Sir Henry Ayers, Prime Minister of South Australia between 1863 and 1873. In 1993, the rock became the first feature in the Northern Territory to be given dual names: Ayers Rock/Uluru. This was done to show respect for the Anangu people and, specifically, to acknowledge their ownership of the land.

In 2002, these names were reversed and the rock took on the official name of Uluru / Ayers Rock, which it still has today. That means you can use either Uluru or Ayers Rock to refer to the rock. However, in the national park it is solely called Uluru.

Uluru | Australia Holidays
Witness the change of colours of Uluru from dawn to dusk
© Unsplash | Jason
Enjoy Australia's best view from the comfort of your own lodge
© Baillies Longitude 131

Watch the sunrise and sunset

The changing of colour shades is what makes Uluru special: from dark red at sunrise, to orange during the day, to purple and grey later in the day. This colour spectacle attracts crowds at sunrise and sunset daily. You've no doubt seen an image of Uluru, but coming face to face with this giant at dusk or dawn is sure to leave you in awe.

Sacred land to the Indigenous people

Uluru is of great spiritual and cultural significance to the Indigenous people, who have lived here for at least 10,000 years. They own the rock and the surrounding land. According to their tradition, at the beginning of time the world was shapeless and savage. This changed with the arrival of ancestral beings: they shaped the landscape with its shapes, colours and vegetation. No wonder Uluru is a sacred place for the Anangu people, who manage it in partnership with the Australian government.

For decades the Anangu people have asked tourists not to climb Uluru because it holds such importance to them. Since October 2019, climbing Uluru has been banned. A good alternative these days is a guided or unguided walk at the foot of the rock along strangely shaped ravines, caves, pools and petroglyphs.

An Aboriginal guide standing in front of Uluru
Immerse yourself in the world's oldest culture with an Indigenous guide
© TravelEssence
Enjoy a magical evening dining under the stars near Uluru
© TravelEssence

Ancient rock art

The cave paintings at Uluru are evidence of how cultural knowledge and Tjukurpa (the creation period) stories have been passed down from generation to generation.

The cave drawings in the park consist of many layers with images, symbols and figures painted on top of each other. That's because the same places have been used for Anangu education for tens of thousands of years.

The rock surfaces are like a blackboard a teacher has used to illustrate a lesson, and only those attending the lesson can fully decipher the notes left behind.

Anangu rarely make new rock art now. However, they still use the ancient rock art and sand drawings (along with paintings on canvas) to teach creation stories and ensure the continuation of knowledge.

Aboriginal with rock art | Australia cultural holiday
Learn about rock art by an Anangu ranger
© TravelEssence
Marvel at rock paintings that go back thousands of years
© Tourism Australia

How old are the rock paintings?

It is extremely difficult to accurately date the rock art at Uluru. Carbon dating can only determine the age of the rock and the materials used for the pigments, not that of the paintings themselves.

However, it is believed that people have lived in the Uluru region for at least 30,000 years. The rock art is an important historical and scientific record of human habitation in this area.

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Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

A visit to Uluru is always combined with a visit to Kata Tjuta. This is a complex of 36 large domed rock formations, separated by ravines and gorges, about 27 kilometres west of Uluru. The site is also of great importance to the Indigenous people, especially the Anangu. The name Kata Tjuta means "many heads" in the Indigenous language.

Kata Tjuta is believed to have once consisted of a single monolith, much larger than Uluru. Erosion by wind and rainwater has resulted in its current shape. Geologically, the two rock formations are completely different, not only in shape, but also in composition and texture.

The tallest dome of the rock is Mount Olga, at 546 metres, almost 198 metres higher than Uluru. Mount Olga was named after the then Queen of Spain in 1872 by explorer William Ernest Powell Giles.

Take a scenic flight for the best views of this extraordinary landscape
© Tourism NT | Shaana Mc Naught
Red center | Australia kids holiday
Hike your way through the majestic domes in Kata Tjuta

Where to stay?

Make your trip extra special by experiencing a unique stay from our large collection of hand-selected accommodations located in the Red Centre and beyond. A journey where your accommodation is an experience in itself.

Whether you prefer to indulge at a luxurious resort or have an outback adventure on a guided safari. We have found the perfect place for you to have the absolute best experience of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Your travel specialist will match you up with accommodation that suits your wants and needs.

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