Uluru also known as Ayers Rock
, is a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory
, central Australia
. It lies 335 km (208 mi) south west of the nearest large town, Alice Springs
, 450 km (280 mi) by road. Kata Tjuta and Uluru are the two major features of the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park. Uluru is sacred to the Anangu, the Aboriginal people of the area. The area around the formation is home to a plethora of springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient paintings. Uluru is listed as a World
Uluru is one of Australia's most recognisable natural landmarks. The sandstone formation stands 348 m (1,142 ft) high (rising 863 m/2,831 ft above sea level), with most of its bulk lying underground, and has a total circumference of 9.4 km (5.8 mi). Both Uluru and the nearby Kata Tjuta formation have great cultural significance for the Aṉangu people, the traditional inhabitants of the area, who lead walking tours to inform visitors about the local flora and fauna, bush foods and the Aboriginal dreamtime stories of the area.
Uluru is notable for appearing to change colour at different times of the day and year, most notably glowing red at dawn and sunset.Kata Tjuta, also called Mount Olga or The Olgas, lies 25 km (16 mi) west of Uluru. Special viewing areas with road access and parking have been constructed to give tourists the best views of both sites at dawn and dusk.
Uluru is an inselberg, literally "island mountain". An inselberg is a prominent isolated residual knob or hill that rises abruptly from and is surrounded by extensive and relatively flat erosion lowlands in a hot, dry region. Uluru is also often referred to as a monolith, although this is a somewhat ambiguous term that is generally avoided by geologists. The remarkable feature of Uluru is its homogeneity and lack of jointing and parting at bedding surfaces, leading to the lack of development of scree slopes and soil. These characteristics led to its survival, while the surrounding rocks were eroded. For the purpose of mapping and describing the geological history of the area, geologists refer to the rock strata making up Uluru as the Mutitjulu Arkose, and it is one of many sedimentary formations filling the Amadeus Basin.
Fauna and flora:
Historically, 46 species of native mammals are known to have been living near Uluru; according to recent surveys there are currently 21. Aṉangu acknowledge that a decrease in the number has implications for the condition and health of the landscape. Moves are supported for the reintroduction of locally extinct animals such as Malleefowl, Common Brushtail Possum, Rufous Hare-wallaby or Mala, Bilby, Burrowing Bettong and the Black-flanked Rock-wallaby.
The Mulgara, the only mammal listed as vulnerable, is mostly restricted to the transitional sand plain area, a narrow band of country that stretches from the vicinity of Uluru to the Northern boundary of the park and into Ayers Rock Resort. This area also contains the marsupial mole, Woma Python and Great Desert Skink.
The development of tourism infrastructure adjacent to the base of Uluru that began in the 1950s soon produced adverse environmental impacts. It was decided in the early 1970s to remove all accommodation-related tourist facilities and re-establish them outside the park. In 1975, a reservation of 104 square kilometres (40 sq mi) of land beyond the park's northern boundary, 15 kilometres (9 mi) from Uluru, was approved for the development of a tourist facility and an associated airport, to be known as Yulara
The camp ground within the park was closed in 1983 and the motels closed in late 1984, coinciding with the opening of the Yulara resort. In 1992, the majority interest in the Yulara resort held by the Northern Territory Government was sold and the resort was renamed Ayers Rock Resort.Since the park was listed as a World Heritage Site, annual visitor numbers rose to over 400,000 visitors by the year 2000. Increased tourism provides regional and national economic benefits. It also presents an ongoing challenge to balance conservation of cultural values and visitor needs.
Climbing Uluru is a popular attraction for visitors. A chain handhold added in 1964 and extended in 1976 makes the hour-long climb easier, but it is still a long (800 m/0.5 mi) and steep hike to the top, where it can be quite windy. It is recommended individuals drink plenty of water whilst climbing, and those who are unfit, suffer from vertigo or medical conditions restricting exercise, do not attempt it. Climbing Uluru is generally closed to the public when high winds are recorded at the top. There have been at least 35 deaths relating to recreational climbing since such incidents began being recorded.
The local Aṉangu do not climb Uluru because of its great spiritual significance. They request that visitors do not climb the rock, partly due to the path crossing a sacred traditional Dreamtime track, and also due to a sense of responsibility for the safety of visitors. The visitors guide says "the climb is not prohibited, but we prefer that, as a guest on Aṉangu land, you will choose to respect our law and culture by not climbing."
On 11 December 1983, Prime Minister Bob Hawke promised to hand back the land title to the Aṉangu traditional owners and agreed to the community's 10-point plan which included forbidding the climbing of Uluru. However, the government set access to climb Uluru and a 99-year lease, instead of the previously agreed upon 50-year lease, as conditions before the title was officially given back to the Aṉangu.
In 2009, the Australian government indicated that climbing Uluru may no longer be allowed under the proposed "Draft Management Plan 2009–2019". The public has been invited to comment on the plan prior to submission to the Minister for the Environment.Several controversial incidents in 2010, including a striptease, golfing and nudity on top of Uluru, have led to renewed calls for banning the climb.
The Aṉangu also request that visitors do not photograph certain sections of Uluru, for reasons related to traditional Tjukurpa beliefs. These areas are the sites of gender-linked rituals, and are forbidden ground for Aṉangu of the opposite sex to those participating in the rituals in question. The photographic ban is intended to prevent Aṉangu from inadvertently violating this taboo by encountering photographs of the forbidden sites in the outside world.