Uluru, known to most as Ayers Rock, is the iconic Australian sandstone formation found in the Red Centre of the Northern Territory. It is a sacred spiritual site as well as an impressive geological monument, testament to the power of the elements of erosion.
The rock is a most spectacular sight during sunrise and sunset, when it becomes an ochre-red mass against the backdrop of a purple-sky.
There are many ways to experience Uluru and its beautiful surrounds, from a self-drive 4WD tour to an overhead view on a helicopter – or for the slightly more daring, a camel ride in the sunset followed by a quad bike adventure over the rugged slopes. The area enveloping Uluru is made up of two Heritage-listed sites; Watarrka National Park and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. There are plenty of views to soak in from both these well-preserved parks, and here we’ll take a look at some the most enchanting spots within the greater Uluru surrounds.
Of course you will have to witness this famous Australian icon with your own eyes, as no postcard or photograph can really do it justice. The sheer size alone is astounding and it’s not difficult to see why the Anangu people value its spiritual existence and strive for its preservation. You can take a camel tour around Uluru to learn a little more about its significance to the Anangu, or take a scenic helicopter ride to view it from above. For those who choose to hike the perimeter, there are various carefully preserved aboriginal rock artworks to see.
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
The surrounding area of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is equally spectacular, made up of various smooth rock formations protruding from the red soil that blankets the landscape. Known also as The Olgas, Kata Tjuta meaning “many heads” is a series of large domes protruding from the foliage which glow during certain parts of the day, when the sunlight is low and the sky a dull orange hue.
The best way to experience this cultural landmark is to hike around it, either by taking an easy stroll, or walking up the more challenging trails. A short walk to the dune will lead you to a most magnificent panoramic view of the domes, but a more difficult and lengthy track is the Valley of the Winds Walk, which will take you through the creek beds between the domes and quite far away from civilisation!
Kata Tjuta has tremendous spiritual significance for the local Anangu people. The Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park is wholly Aboriginal owned, and jointly managed by the traditional land owners. You can join a culture tour to learn more about its meaning to the land and the people.
Home of the breathtaking Kings Canyon, Watarrka National Park is an important conservation area providing refuge for over 600 native plants and animals. The area is constantly brimming with life and has some amazing spots to sit, relax and enjoy yourself in, including the ‘Garden of Eden’, a sheltered valley with refreshing water holes and picturesque greenery. Kings Canyon – an absolute must-see is a maze of domes and arches, a hiking haven with plenty of steep climbs and walks. It’s possible to explore Kings Canyon by foot, four-wheel drive, quad bike or hop upon a camel. If you have time, catch some rays on a rock and soak up the serenity of this peaceful and remote paradise.
Discover the Dreamtime
Dot painting is an internationally recognised ancient Aboriginal painting technique. The artworks that are created using this technique are more than just dots however; the rich culture and sacred rituals of the different Indigenous groups lie exposed in its ink. The art painted by the Aborigines was a form of storytelling and language; the strokes replicating the movements of ancestral beings that roam the earth. The palette of colours is strongly reflective of the landscape, deep red, yellow, orange, and brown. To learn a bit more about this traditional art form, take a painting class and practice the techniques under the guidance of a local artist.