World Heritage Sites
Rising from the arid heartland of Australia are the haunting geological marvels of Uluru (Ayers Rock), and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). They lie within Uluru National Park, which is owned by the Aborigines.
Uluru is a red sandstone monolith, the world's largest at 9.4 km (5.6 miles) around, with smooth slopes rising to 340 metres (1100 feet). For many thousands of years, this rock has been the focus for religious, cultural, territorial, and economic inter-relations among the Aboriginal peoples of the Western Desert. Caves around the base of the Rock were used by Aboriginal people for shelter and which they decorated with paintings.
Most visitors make the steep, but exhilarating, walk to the top of the Rock where the views are spectacular. It is an arduous trek however, and the authorities close the rock to climbing on very hot or windy days. In that event, visitors can still enjoy the fascinating base tour.
Nearby is Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), 36 steep-sided domes rising to 500 metres (1640 feet). The fantastic rock formations, caves, desert vegetation, and gorges sometimes leave a more lasting impression on visitors than Uluru.
Twenty two mammal species, 150 bird species, and many arid reptiles, including the second largest lizard in the world, the perentie, inhabit Uluru National Park.
Visitors, who are charged a small entry fee of AUD$ 10, can tour the park alone with the help of leaflet and interpretive signs, or accompany an Aboriginal guide. There is no development within the park, but a large resort with a full range of accommodation is located at nearby Ayers Rock Resort.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication