Sure, you may be able to get a 360 degree view of Uluru on Google Maps now, but nothing beats heading to the Red Centre of Australia to see this amazing natural formation up-close, and while you’re at it, walk around it’s base.
Perhaps one of the most iconic landmarks of Australia, heading to Uluru is a must-do activity when you’re in the country. Originally named “Ayers Rock” in 1872 by explorer Ernest Giles after the South Australian Premier at the time (Sir Henry Ayers), the Australian government officially returned ownership to the Anangu people on October 26, 1985. In 1995 the name of the national park changed from Ayers Rock–Mount Olga National Park to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Start: Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park, Mala Car Park
Distance: 10.6 km loop
Time: 3-3.5 hours
Closest Town: Yulara/Ayers Rock Resort (15km away), Alice Springs (450 km away)
Note: A permit is required to enter Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park which costs $25.00 for a three day entry.
Uluru holds deep Aboriginal significance to the local Anangu people and you can learn about many of the stories and significance at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Cultural Centre or on various tours. Due to the cultural significance of this site, it is recommended that you don’t climb the rock. In fact, at time of writing, the climb was closed due to the chain being cut on the October 26, 2015- the 30th anniversary of the hand back of title to the traditional custodians.
While you can appreciate that Uluru is a ‘big rock,’ I had no concept of its enormity until I viewed it up close and walked around the 9.4 km base. Parks Australia recommend starting the walk from the Mala Carpark in the morning and taking a clockwise route. While the walk is fairly flat, the intense heat can hamper the experience so prepare with lots of water, a hat and sunscreen.
There are not as many people doing the base walk compared to the shorter walks around Uluru so you can walk through and relish in this massive arkose sandstone rock and discover the plants, animals and caves with little crowds.
Please note, there are cultural sensitive parts of the rock that are not to be photographed- these parts are signified by signs, so make sure you’re on the lookout for these.
And read more about the cultural significance here: http://www.parksaustralia.gov.au/uluru/pub/visitor-guide.pdf