Ayers Rock (Uluru) Northern Territory, Australia

Ayers Rock (Uluru)Ayers Rock (Uluru)Ayers Rock has been known as Uluru since it was returned to the Aboriginal owners, Anangu, in 1985. The Rock is situated 450 km west of Alice Springs in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which covers over 132,000 ha.

Uluru is one of Australia's most famous landmarks and is the country's most visited site. The mysterious red rock is the weathered peak of a buried mountain range and raises some 430 meters from the desert and has a perimeter of about 9km (5.5 miles). People often wonder why it is the colour red. This is due to iron minerals in the surface rocks oxidizing with the air.

Ayers Rock History

Descent from Ayers Rock: Illustrating the steep and dangerous descent from Ayers RockDescent from Ayers Rock: Illustrating the steep and dangerous descent from Ayers RockIn 1980, Baby Azaria Chamberlain disappeared while she and her parents were camping near Ayers Rock. Her mother Lindy Chamberlain reported that Azaria had been taken by a dingo, sparking the most publicized trial in Australian history.
The Australian Government returned ownership of Ayers Rock to the local Aboriginal people, the Anangu on 26 October 1985. Ayers Rock was then leased back to the Government for 99 years as a National Park. That is why you will find the Aborigines called Ayers Rock Uluru rather than Ayers Rock.

Climbing Ayers Rock

The local indigenous community requests that visitors respect the sacred status of Ayers Rock by not climbing the rock. Nevertheless, they do not prevent people climbing Ayers Rock, an activity that remains popular with many visitors. A rope handhold makes the climb easier, but it is still quite a long and steep climb and many climbers give up before reaching the top. There are several deaths a year as a direct result of climbing Ayers Rock, mainly from heart failure. It is an individual's choose whether to do the climb or not. It was our choose not to but friends we traveled with did but gave up before reaching the top. But I have to admit the MOST exciting part of our trip was climbing that Rock. It was very hard and at times I did not think any of us would make it but after several hours we made it and I cannot describe the feeling when we finally reached the top. The view was breath taking and unlike anything I have ever seen before.

Safety Tips when Climbing the Rock

All visitors are given some Safety Tips to follow if they decide to climb the Rock:

  • Stay on the marked tracks at all times.
  • Always walk or climb with another person.
  • Carry and drink one litre of water for every hour you walk or climb in hot weather.
  • Wear sturdy, rubber-soled boots or shoes, a hat with a secure strap, a long sleeved shirt.
  • Sunscreen at all times.
  • In very hot weather walk only in the coolest part of the day.
  • Do not climb or do a strenuous walk if you have: high blood pressure, heart problems, breathing problems, if you are not reasonably fit, a fear of heights.
  • Do not try and retrieve things that have dropped or blown away.
  • Do not drink alcohol or eat a large meal before you walk or climb.
  • Obey all safety directions, notices and warning signs
  • If you feel ill or have been injured, stay where you are and tell someone to contact a ranger.

Closure of the Uluru Climb

For safety reasons the climb is closed under certain circumstances. Our climb was cancelled twice because of extreme heat conditions. For safety reasons the climb will be Heat-closed at 8.00am if the forecast maximum temperature for Yulara is 36 degrees centigrade or more. It can also be closed if the estimated wind speed is to high or if there is 20% chance of rain within three hours of your climb.

The rock is also closed from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise. You might even find you cannot climb the rock due to Cultural Reasons, this happened to us on our first planned climb. It was closed upon request from Traditional Owners following a death or due to a cultural event or ceremony occurring by the Aborigines.

But the primary reasons for the closure of the climb are temperature and wind conditions during the Australian Summer months. That is why it is a good idea to visit the rock in winter or spring months if you want to Climb it.

Colour Changes Throughout The Day

As we approached Ayers Rock it appeared to change colour, the sandstone taking on various hues of red, purple, orange, green and yellow, depending on the weather conditions and how far away from the rock you are standing.

Traveling To Ayers Rock

Ayers Rock is roughly at the center of Australia, and is about 1800km from Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin and Perth. Most people choose to fly to Ayers Rock and we found Qantas have direct services to Connelan Airport, which is a short drive from Ayers Rock Resort. We chose to fly with Virgin Blue to Alice Springs and then transfer onwards by Qantas Air shuttle to Connelan Airport.

It took us 4 and half hours to drive to Ayers Rock from Alice Springs. The Alice Springs to Yulara Bus and the return Yulara to Alice Springs Shuttle Bus also operate.

While at Ayers Rock you must dine under the stars of the Red Center night skies at the award winning Sounds of Silence Restaurant. You are taken to a secluded dining setting in the middle of the desert where you can sip on a glass of champagne with the sound of a lone didgeridoo filling the air as the sun slowly sets over the Kata Tjuta and Uluru. We got to dine on gourmet BBQ which includes Australian delicacies such as Kangaroo, barramundi and buffalo, we then got to sit back and take in the mystery of the desert at night as an astronomer takes you on a tour of the clear Southern night skies.

Ayers Rock Climate

Whatever the season, each day of your stay in the Top En guarantees something different, it's just a matter of choosing the season which best suits your interests and fits in with your holiday schedule. The Top End is known as a "land of two summers", which means lots of sunshine even during the Wet Season.

To appreciate the seasonal changes remember the WET is from November through to April, the DRY is from May to October, and whilst the Dry is the most popular for holidays in the Top End, the Wet delivers the Northern Territory its most beautiful scenery such as waterfalls, rivers and creeks which meld into a giant floodplains and lush tropical growth. January and February is the height of summer and the heart of the Wet when monsoon weather dumps heavy afternoon and overnight rain.

Average temperatures range from 24.4 degree Centigrade to 38.4 degrees Centigrade. March and April average temperatures range from 24.3 degrees Centigrade to 32.3 degrees Centigrade. The May to September period is known as the Dry and is the most popular time of the year with visitors and locals. The humidity is at its lowest and the nights relatively cool. Average temperatures range from 21 degrees to 31.3 degrees. October to December is the pre-monsoon period when it becomes increasingly humid with occasional rain. We traveled to the Rock in July this is part of the Dry season and we found it the best especially for the humidity. It was nice during the day and cool at nights.

Spiritually Significant

I must warn you. A trip to Uluru is also about experiencing and understanding its cultural and Spiritual significance. Uluru has a great cultural significance for theAnangu traditional landowners, you can Self Discover this or take a guided tour that informs about the local flora and fauna, bush foods and the Aboriginal Dreamtime stories of the area. This was the most exciting and interesting part of the trip for me. You will learn a lot about the Australian Aboriginal cultures.

Also in this enormous park are many Aboriginal sacred sites, spectacular scenery and famous rock formations. One of the high lights of our trip was a visit to the Olgas/ Kata Tjuta, a dramatic series of 36 dome-like rock formations which stand up to 1.701ft (546m) high and cover an area of 35 km and like Uluru, produce an incredible light show at sunset, with crimsons turning to rusts, and pinks to mauves.


The giant red domes of Kata Tjuta, meaning "many heads" in the local Aboriginal language, are really impressive. There are also a few walks where you can lose yourself in the fantastic landscape. We did a 6 KM circuit of the formation in 3-4 hours. We also completed a 4 hour walk through the Valley of the Winds, this is an unforgettable experience. If you are less energetic a short 1-hour walk up to Olga Gorge in the late afternoon is the perfect end to the sunset light show. Kata Tjuta is 50 Km west of Uluru and we found the Accommodation available 5km outside the National Park at the resort town of Yulara perfect. Yulara is serviced by an airport which has flights to and from many Australian centres. There are also many tours available from Alice Springs, 465km to the North East by road.

Things to do

Candlelight Dinner near Ayers Rock: A candlelight dinner in the middle of the desert will always be remembered.Candlelight Dinner near Ayers Rock: A candlelight dinner in the middle of the desert will always be remembered.While visiting Ayers Rock you must take a peaceful 1 hour camel ride over big red sand dunes in cool clear morning air to watch the sunrise over Uluru & Kata Tjuta. You will be guided by skilled guides who will describe the flora and fauna along the trail & the best part serve billy tea and freshly baked beer-bread. You can also take a Sunset camel ride where you get wine, beer and snacks while you take in the sunset.
You won't fully appreciate the awesome spectacle of this huge Rock until you fly around it. This is an Excellent photographi opportunitie. To bad I was sick and could not make the flight. The 40 minute trip includes a flight over the Olgas.

One of the most popular attractions is the Sound of Silence Restaurant. This is an award winning restaurant where you travel out to a private dining setting in the middle of the desert. You can sip on a glass of champagne with the sound of a lone didgeridoo filling the air as the sun slowly sets over Uluru. This is a must although a bit pricie at $145 per adult it is well worth it.

Before leaving our Ayers Rock holiday, we took the advice of locals and joined in on Aboriginal Tour. This tour begins with sunrise and includes a short tour at the base of Uluru and a restaurant breakfast at the culture centre. You learn the meaning and history of Uluru as passed down from ancestors on the Liru Walk. Aboriginal guides lead all tours speaking in their own langage, with a skilled interpreter translating into English. This was fasinating. Ayers Rock has so many spiritual places. The tour will take 4.5 to 5.5 hrs depending on sunrise times and departs 1 hr prior to sunrise daily. By the end of your stay you will really get to know and hopefully learn to love the many different types of meat and BBQ's you can try while touring Ayres Rock. I'm still not sure about Kangaroo meat yet I am told it takes a bit of getting used to. To me it taste a bit like chicken . Just the thought of eating Kangroo though puts me off a bit but it is worth a try.

Accommodation

While there are many types of Accommodation at Ayres Rock and surrounding areas, being a family that just love camping in the outback we decided to stay at Longitude 131°, here we experienced the outback in fifteen luxury tents set on an isolated sand dune close to the border of Uluru and the National Park. As one of only 30 guests, you awake to your own private view of the sun rising over Uluru (Ayers Rock). With some of the most amazing views you'll ever see, Longitude 131 assures you a uniquely personal experience with of the world's most awesome natural wonders. Longitude 131 is an Australian first in so many ways. So if you like camping but miss the luxury ways as well this is the place to stay. At least I could still use my hairdryer. You can camp but still have the comforts of home.

If you are looking for a great budget Accommodation the Outback Pioneer Hotel is recommended. It is about one of the cheapest Hotel's you will find while staying at Ayers Rock. Outback Pioneer

Credits

Article written by Lee-anne Latham

i have been there in 2005.

i have been there in 2005. to be honest: its totaly overrated. came up from adelaide and did the 1 day detour to visit ayers - in my car. i started in adelaide, up the A1 to port augusta, then just follow the A87 north. A87 goes from port augusto to alice springs, from alice springs to darwin the name changes to 87. ~200km south of alice springs you turn left into the lasseter highway (4), its about 220km to the national park from there. takes about 3-4 days for the trip, but the speed record for this distance is 22hours in a car afaik.

guys, dont do this alone - you have to mortage your house to pay for the petrol in the middle of the desert, plus its frikkin boring to drive 3 days in the desert and the only thing changes is the needle in your fuel gauge - so see if you find something to chat, make sure your car is in a good condition, bring 10water/per person and day, lots of cds and if you have enought space: as much petrol as you can from adelaide. there is only 1 petrol station on lasseter highway 4, and you pay 2x more than in adelaide there. they even have locks at the pumps, and ther is no "self service" for a good reason. almost every gas station on the way (maybe every 300km) there has a cheap campground, use them and do not camp along the road.

its 20$ per person to enter the park, which is way to much if you ask me. my first impression there when i came close was "what, thats all?! i only came here to see THIS stone?!". yes, ayers rock is a read stone but everything there is red! yes, its a big rock in a quite flat area - but you see another hundred big rocks on your way between adelaide and alice springs. some of them are higher, some of them have a more interresting shape, and there is even a bigger monolith in western australia than ayers rock - i have really no idea why the post card industrie decided to make ayers rock famous, and not mt. conner (100km east) or any other hill in the middle of nowhere.

in the park you have a road arround ayers, a visitor center (quite ok and informative) and parking lots. its a 2km walk from there to the rock, but i gave up after 1km. its not the heat, its just the flies - millions of them, and they are all after YOU! as soon ay you leave your car, there are flies arround you! the only thing that helps is a fly net for your head, but you have this bastards still on your back, legs and arms - its damm annoing and you cant do anything about it.

some last warning: if you go with your car, dont spend the night in this desert towns like coober pedy, alice springs or tennant creek - you might wake up in the morning and find your car stolen, its very common in this area. in fact, they count more crimes in this 3 cities together (pop. arround 35.000 in total) than in sydney (pop. more than 4.000.000)! stay outside on some gas station tentside if possible or pay for secured parking.

here some places in nt where i had more fun than at ayers:

Mataranka thermal pool: take a (free!) relaxing bath under palmtrees instead of visting dusty stones in the desert for 20$. roos come out there arround 8pm, snakes use the pool in the early morning - but at least no annoing flies!

kakadu park: only "cold" water, but quite nice lakes and waterfalls. at least until the crocodiles come out, but they only hunt you in the water... Laughing

litchfield national park: more to see and explore than ayers.

You may even be right, but

You may even be right, but its an icon and a landmark that is famous. Hence its a very good addition to the travel guide.

Quote:

in the park you have a road arround ayers, a visitor center (quite ok and informative) and parking lots. its a 2km walk from there to the rock, but i gave up after 1km. its not the heat, its just the flies

Well, you wouldn't make a good photographer then. Thats nothing to the things I have endured in order to get some of my shots. No pain no gain Smile

As usual, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Entrance fees mean nothing really, but why didn't you take a flight out there?

i took my car because i had

i took my car because i had one Smile
and darwin was my next destination anyway.

Everyone to their own

Everyone to their own opinion. But we found Ayers Rock to be facinating. Depends on what you are looking for in a trip I suppose. As for the entry fee now days you have to pay high entry fees everywhere you go. Oh well I found it value for money. We flew up then we rented a car when needed.

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