Uluru - Ayers Rock Australia

Uluru - Ayers Rock Australia is world famous.

Bang in the middle of the Australian continent, this big red rock is the most famous landmark of the outback Australia.

It is so popular it has even got its own airport, making it easy for people to get here without having to spend weeks driving through the endless Australian outback. You can watch the world's largest monolith changing colours in sunrise and sunset, drive or walk around it, and even climb it.

Uluru (Ayers Rock) with Desert Vegetation
Ayers Rock Australia Walking Tours. Poster by AllPosters. Click on
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Ways to explore these great rock formations








Kata Tjuta - The Olgas

Not far from it, in the same national park, is Kata Tjuta (also called The Olgas), which in local Aboriginal language means “many heads”. It is somewhat less famous than Uluru but not less impressive, and Kata Tjuta also changes colours depending on the time of the day.

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Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta are located in the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park south-west of Alice Springs in Northern Territory.
Olgas, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia, Pacific
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Two day tours of Ayers Rock Australia




Geology of Uluru and Kata Tjuta
Uluru and Kata Tjuta have different geological backgrounds. Both are sedimentary rocks but Uluru is composed of a kind of sandstone called arkose, while Kata Tjuta’s rock is conglomerate – a sedimentary rock with large pebbles. The area was at times covered by inland sea which is when the sediments were deposited between 900 and 300 million years ago. About 550 million years ago these sediments were uplifted and then gradually eroded. About 300 million years ago the layers of Uluru were turned almost vertical, while the layers of Kata Tjuta were only turned about 15-20 degrees. As the erosion continued, a valley was formed between the two about 65 million years ago. The erosion continues of course but at a much slower rate since the climate became much drier only 500,000 years ago, and it is believed that the look of Uluru and Kata Tjuta han’t changed since the first Aboriginal People came here.
The Setting Sun Casts a Golden Glow on an Uluru Rock Formation
Close-up of Ayers Rock Australia Walking Tours. Poster by AllPosters.
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Three day tours of Ayers Rock Australia



Australian Animals and Desert Plants

Today the climate is very dry around Uluru and Kata Tjuta, and the area is mostly covered by sand dunes, Spinifex grasslands and open woodlands with typical Australian desert plants such as mulga, umbrella brush and desert oak. It also has the typical Australian desert animals, including a lot of reptiles (one of the most special ones is Thorny Devil – if you don’t see it in the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, don’t miss the Alice Springs Reptile Centre while in Alice Springs, where you can hold it on your hand, it’s a really funny creature), as well as red kangaroos, euros, dingos, dunnarts and Spinifex hopping mice. There are about 180 species of birds in the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park including cockatoos and parrots, honeyeaters, kingfishers, finches and falcons.

Moloch or Thorny Devil (Moloch Horridus) Portrait, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
Thorny devil. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy

How to Get to Ayers Rock Australia
Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park is in the end of Lasseter Highway which turns west from Stuart Highway south of Alice Springs. No long distance coaches or trains go to Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, so your options are your own or rented transport, flying, or shuttle buses from Alice Springs. There are also two, three and four day tours from Alice Springs that include Uluru, Kata Tjuta, and some of the other parks and places such as Kings Canyon, West Macdonnells etc.

Olgas, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia, Pacific
The road in.
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Getting there and Scenic Flights
As you drive along the Lasseter Highway, before Uluru Kata Tjuta on your left hand side is Mount Connor – which some eager travellers immediately mistake for Uluru, but keep driving until you come to a short turnoff to Yulara, which is where the national park’s only accommodation is (see more about it lower down on this page). South of Yulara on your left-hand side is the turnoff to Kata Tjuta, and if you keep driving past it on Lasseter Hwy, it finally takes you to Uluru. Once you are at Uluru, one way to get a good picture of it all is to take a scenic flight - they are fantastic.

Road Near Ayers Rock, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia, Pacific
Lasseter Highway. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy

Drive around Ayers Rock Australia

There is a road around the 3.6km long and 348m high Uluru so you can drive around it, and there is a car park next to the Uluru where travellers gather at the sunset with a cold beer to sit down and watch the rock changing colours as the sun sets.

Olga Rocks
Ayers Rock Australia Walking Tours. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy

Ayers Rock Australia Walks

But a much better way to discover Uluru is to bushwalk around it and take your time to see it close-by. There are several bushwalks at Uluru: two popular shorter walks are the 2km, cultural Mala Walk, and the 1km Mutitjulu Walk that takes you to a waterhole. But the best one is the 10km Base Walk which takes you all the way around the rock.

Olgas, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia, Pacific
Uluru bushwalk. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy

Kata Tjuta the Olgas Walks
You can also walk around Kata Tjuta. The 2km Tatintjawiya Walk takes you to the beautiful Olga Gorge, and the longer, 7km Valley of the Winds takes you though different gorges of Kata Tjuta. And as Kata Tjuta also changes colours in the sunset, there is a viewing area with toilets and picnic facilities off the access road west of Kata Tjuta.

Ayers Rock in the Australian Outback
Ayers Rock Australia. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy

Yulara - Ayers Rock Accommodation

There used to be accommodation in the Uluru Kata Tjuta national park, but nowadays all the accommodation is in Yulara and you are not allowed to camp in the National Park. The cheapest way to stay at Yulara is to camp on the Ayers Rock campground which is affordable even though it is more expensive than camping in many other places in Australia. Other accommodation is found at the Sails in the Desert, Desert Gardens Hotel, Emu Walk Apartments, Lost Camel Hotel, Ayers Rock Outback Pioneer Hotel, Longitude 131 Hotel. You can also stay at Curtin Springs Station

Yulara is really like a small tourist town with different hotels, restaurants, a shop, a post office, an ATM, internet access and a swimming pool. You can watch the “Predators of the Red Centre” in the Amphitheatre and during the night there is the Night Sky Show about Anangu legends and outback skies where you can study the clear outback sky through a telescope. At Yulara Visitors Centre there are good displays of the area’s history, nature and geography, maps and information about the bushwalking tracks, tours and guides and management of the national park, as well as desks of tour operators and car rental companies. There is a well-stocked supermarket, and a few different bars and restaurants.

View of Ayers Rock
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Here's a map of Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, where I have tagged the places that I mentioned on this web page. You can click on the tags to see what places they are, and double-click anywhere on the map to zoom it in and see the places closer. Drag the map to move around, and if you want to see the satellite image with Google Earth, click on "Sat" in the top right hand corner.

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