Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Uluru - Kata Tjuta Travel Blog› entry 39 of 44 › view all entries
There is something totally awe-inspiring about Uluru. There it sits in the centre of Australia. A huge monolith, 862.5 metres above sea level, 1395 km south of Darwin and 465 km south west of Alice Springs, rising out of the desert. No wonder the local Aborigines regarded it as a sacred site. Uluru rises 348 metres above the surrounding countryside, has an area of 3.33 sq. km and a circumference of 9.4 km. It experiences an average of 200-250 mm of rainfall per annum and a typical desert temperature range which can fall to -8°C at night-time in winter and rise to 47°C during the day in summer.
In the language of the local Aborigines 'Uluru' is simply a place name which is applied to both the rock and the waterhole on top of the rock.
There is some scientific disagreement about the origins of Uluru. The most widely held theory is that both Uluru and Kata Tjuta are remnants of a vast sedimentary bed which was laid down some 600 million years ago. The bed was spectacularly tilted so that Uluru now protrudes at an angle of up to 85°. The rock is actually grey but is covered with a distinctive red iron oxide coating.
The arrival of Europeans in the area was part of the exploration of the centre during the 1870s. Ernest Giles travelled through the area in 1872 and named both Lake Amadeus and Mount Olga. His original names, Lake Mueller and Mount Ferdinand in honour of Baron Ferdinand von Mueller (Giles' benefactor) were changed by the Baron to the names of the reigning King and Queen of Spain. Giles returned to the area in 1873 but was beaten to Uluru by William Gosse who sighted the monolith on 19 July and named it after the Chief Secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers.
Although they are quite close to each other Uluru and Kata Tjuta have quite different geological and human histories. Where Uluru is a sedimentary rock which has been tilted nearly 85°, Kata Tjuta has only been tilted some 20°. They are made of a much coarser sediment and contain quite large pebbles of granite and basalt.
In respect for the Aboriginal nation that this is a sacred site. The traditional owners have resigned themselves to the inevitable despoliation of the rock. There are now signs around the rock which make it perfectly clear that the traditional owners, the Anangu people, would like the 400,000 visitors to the rock to 'respect our law by not climbing Uluru'. In the respect of them I did not climb the rock! I much prefered to do the walk around it 2 times! That was super as you can see in the pictures I took!!
The name Kata Tjuta means 'head' and 'many' in the language of the traditional owners.
The highest of the monoliths is Mount Olga which rises to 546 metres. The Olgas are spread across an area of some 3500 hectares and the distance around the group is approximately 22 km. It is thought that Kata Tjuta may have once been one gigantic monolith many times the size of Uluru. Millions of years of erosion have reduced the single monolith to a series of smaller monoliths.