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Are you making a list of must-visit tourist destinations in Australia? Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia is perfect for you who want to get closer to the ancient natural landscape. So, what is Uluru-Kata Tjuta? Where are they located? What does this Australian tourist attraction site offer? This article will give you complete information from history to a travel guide to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Uluru and Kata Tjuta are located in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia. These two wondrous natural landscapes are validated as World Heritage Areas by UNESCO.
They are named after the two impressive World heritage sites in the central of Australia’s desert: “the ancient sandstone monolith of Uluru” and “the sacred red dome of Kata Tjuta”. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is also one of Australia’s best National Parks, along with Kakadu National Park and Blue Mountains National Park.
History Overview of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia
Uluru and Kata Tjuta’s natural landscape is believed to have been made by the ancestors of Aboriginal people at the beginning of the time. Anangu, Aboriginal Australian people, have settled for around thirty thousand years around the territory of Uluru-Kata Tjuta. This natural and cultural heritage has been a part of their culture.
Anangu believes that their ancestors made this monolith with sandstone and red domes. As the descendants, they are responsible for protecting the ancient heritage from any inconvenient condition. That is why climbing Uluru is no longer permitted. The site is considered important and sacred for the indigenous people.
Kata Tjuta was first discovered by the early European explorers named Ernest Giles. In 1872, he spotted the domes from Kings Canyon and named it Mount Olga after Queen Olga Württemberg. Kata Tjuta, also called The Olgas, means “many heads.” It refers to the wonderful 36 domed auburn rock formations.
The tallest dome is up to 546 meters above the ground, exceeding Uluru by 200 meters. Kata Tjuta is made from Conglomerate or sedimentary rock, then cobbles, mixed pebbles, gravel, and boulders that were put together using sand and mud.
Subsequently, Uluru was mapped by William Gosse, another explorer and the first non-Aboriginal person; he called the sandstone Ayers Rock after Sir Henry Ayers, a former South Australia Chief Secretary. Uluru or Ayers Rock is the largest monolith in the world.
It is a large, towering sandstone hill with heights of 348 meters above the desert and exceeds the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Statue of Liberty in New York. The circumference is 5.8 miles, or equal to 9.4 km. The hill is made from arkose sandstone. Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta are sacred to Aboriginal people.
It finally opened as a tourist attraction site in 1950, where The Ayers Rock National Park was declared. Afterward, in 1958 Kata Tjuta became part of the National Park. In the same year, the first fly-in and fly-out tour groups were permitted to visit the site and the development of the permanent accommodation.
The local Anangu was given the official ownership of Uluru in 1985. However, they decided to lease the sandstone landscape along with the national park for 99 years to the Australian government.
Interesting Facts about Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia
It’s Taller than the Eiffel Tower!
Uluru sandstone mountain rises above 348 meters from its surrounding desert. What makes it more incredible is that there is still more under the ground. Below the surface, it extends to at least 2.5kms more. In addition, the tallest dome of Kata Tjuta exceeds 200 meters from Uluru.
The Indigenous People own the Natural Ancient Landscape
In 1985, the Anangu was given the freehold title deeds for the park, yet, they leased the park to the Australian government. It is managed by Parks Australia as well as the Anangu people.
The native people, Aboriginal Australia, have been living around the area of Uluru-Kata Tjuta for more than 30,000 years. They learned from the Tjukurpa, which consists of the creation of stories and religious philosophy that Uluru is the resting place of their ancestors. That is why the land is sacred and protected.
There Are a Variety of Plants and Unique Animals
The desert has over 400 plant varieties and an abundance of unique animals. The plants you can find, such as several wildflowers (foxtails and myrtles), Grevillea shrubs, types of eucalyptus (Centralian bloodwoods), desert poplars, and oaks, a type of acacia (mulga trees).
The unique animals in the park areas are some mammals (the spinifex hopping mouse, red kangaroos, small marsupials, dingoes, rodents), dozen amphibians, and reptiles (geckos, skinks, death adder snakes), the indigenous thorny devil. There are numerous special birds, over 175 (buzzards, falcons, honeyeaters, and many more).
Climbing Uluru Is No Longer Permitted
On October 26, 2019, it was announced that visitors could no longer climb Uluru to respect the ancestors of Anangu. They believe it is the resting place and the living form for the spirits to live.
Climate in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
The weather in Uluru-Kata Tjuta is hard to predict. It is located in the Northern Territory and the central desert of Australia. The region’s climate is extreme and unpredictable, and it is arid and hot. The amount of rain is variable. Usually, the precipitation happens between January and March. The average rainfall is about 300mm annually.
During winter, between June and August, the temperature is cooler, and it can be freezing at nightfall as the temperature can drop below 0° C. The contrast of extreme temperatures can range from sweltering 37.5° C in January and 3.5° C in July. If you want to avoid the pouring rain, you better not visit between November and March. Nevertheless, the weather is hardly predictable, and you might encounter a sudden downpour. So, prepare your raincoat!
Things to Do in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
You can do many things while visiting this great Red Center in Australia. Here is a list of activities you can try:
Witness the Sandstone and Red Dome Changes Its Color during Sunrise and Sunset
It is the most sought activity by tourists. The rock will change its color at sunrise and sunset. At sunrise, when the sun’s rays hit the rock, it will turn into a fiery red color. Then, when it is time for the sun to set, the color will turn back to the original rusty orange. Get your camera ready and capture many photos and videos worth remembering!
Learn about the Anangu Culture in The Cultural Center
After taking pictures and videos of the magical sunrise. Why don’t you visit the cultural center and learn about the Aboriginal traditions and culture? You can hear their ceremonial songs (imma) and their creation of stories (Tjukurpa). There are also galleries you can explore painted by the local artist. By purchasing jewelry and paintings, you help to support the local artist and community.
The center also provides food and beverage vendors; it is the only place where you can buy food and drink. So, take your time to rest and relax.
Take a Walk Around the Site
It is recommended to begin your walk before the sun gets too high. The desert temperature will be scorching in the afternoon, and the wind will blow dry. You will not like it. Visitors also can ride bicycles in the park.
Make sure you obey the rules. Some areas are forbidden to be crossed, and some places that will not permit you to take pictures respect the Anangu people and their ancestors.
Book a Dinner and Enjoy Your Wine
If you come to witness the sunset, don’t go back to your resort just yet! Have dinner at the park. You need to book it beforehand. You can choose many spots to enjoy the best view of the changing colors of the rock. Have a good sightseeing, delicious dinner, and enjoy your wind, cheers!
Appreciate The Wildlife
Even with the lack of humidity and extreme climate change, the area of Uluru-Kata Tjuta has many flora and unique fauna. For the plants, there are desert oaks, types of eucalyptus, wildflowers, etc. While for animals, there are a variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and many more. As a traveler, maybe you are interested to know more about them.
How Much Does It Cost to Enter Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia?
To enter the park, you need to purchase a national park ticket. It can last for 3 days, and if you want to stay longer, you can extend the ticket with no additional fee for 2 more days.
The park is available daily, but the opening and closing hours change based on the situation. Below is the list of the entry fees:
- For 3 consecutive days – Adult: $38
- Annual pass – Adult: $50
- Annual parking pass for Northern Territory: $109
The amenities they offer include a Cultural Centre, an Art Gallery, and a Cafe. Near the park, Ayers Rock Resort, located in Yulara, offers the visitors the most needed services such as accommodation, fuel, restaurants, shops, and more.
How to Get to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Most travelers or visitors who want to visit the park come via Alice Springs. It is about 280 miles or equal to 450 km travel by road. Alice Springs also offers more picturesque scenery of the Red Centre while you are on your way to the Park. It takes approximately 4.5 hours along the Stuart and Lasseter Highways.
Another option is to fly straight to Ayers Rock Airport. It is located 25km from Uluru-Kata Tjuta. You can hire a car or take the free hotel courtesy transfer to the Ayers Rock resort.
If you prefer a longer park trip, choose Mereenie Loop Road through Kings Canyon. You can see and enjoy more incredible sites along the way.
Now you get insight into what Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia is. Are you interested in visiting them on your journey to Australia? Prepare your belongings and capture many photos of the sunset and sunrise at Uluru and Kata Tjuta!