Located in the Northern Territory, in the heart of Australia’s Red Centre, Uluru is a fascinating site that is often the subject of fantasies among travellers. This iconic rock, also known as Ayers Rock, is full of stories, secrets and legends. We tell you more about this sacred Aboriginal site which until 2019 could be climbed by its visitors.
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Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
A bit of History
The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is co-managed by the Australian government and the Aborigines who are the original owners of the land. Historically the aboriginal people Anangu, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara consider it as sacred land.
For Anangu traditional owners, Uluru and Kata Tjuta have told important stories since the beginning of time. According to Tjukurpa (creation stories), the park’s unique geological formations were created by ancestral beings who have roamed the landscape since ancient times.
You can also admire cave paintings reflecting the richness of Aboriginal culture. On site, you will therefore have the choice between taking the steps around the rock. However, climbing the rock is not been permitted anymore since October 2019.
The walks to discover
There are several walks to discover in Uluru. Among them:
The Base Walk
This walk is about 10 km long and takes you around the entire circumference of the rock.
You can do the whole Uluru Base Walk or just focus on one or more of its sections, depending on the time you have and the weather. You can start the walk from the Mala car park early in the morning, as long as it is cool. Facing the rock, start by going clockwise.
This walk starts from the Mala car park to reach the Kantju Gorge. It is the same path taken by the daily Mala walk guided by the park rangers. Enter the caves where the Mala camped when they arrived at Uluru and see the kitchen cave where they cooked their meals. The Mala are the ancestors of the Anangu and their history is one of the most important in Tjukurpa.
Admire the cave paintings along this walk before arriving at the Kantju Gorge, surrounded by steep vertical walls.
Kuniya walk and Mutitjulu Waterhole
One of the few permanent water sources around Uluru, Mutitjulu Waterhole is a place where you can enjoy the calm of the morning. Kuniya’s short walk goes from Kuniya parking lot to Mutitjulu Waterhole. The presence of water makes this area particularly lush and shady. This is one of the few places in the park where you can see wallabies among the tall grass.
Mutitjulu Waterhole is a special place where the traditional owners of Uluru regularly take VIPs. British Royals and the Dalai Lama are just some of the famous faces who have visited.
To access the national park, you need to buy a Pass. The Pass lasts 3 days and costs $38 per person.
Uluru: climb it or not?!
From 200,000 visitors who come to Uluru each year around 40,000 chose to climb the rock when it was still permitted. This activity has always been very popular with tourists and considered by many of them as a must.
According to the Aboriginal myth the path that leads to the summit passes through a traditional “dreamtime” track, used by the early ancestors when they arrived at Uluru. The rock has a great spiritual significance for the Anangu. A sign at the foot of the rock says “We don’t climb“ and invites you to do the same in respect for their beliefs.
Moreover, the 1.6 km walk to the summit can be dangerous. 37 person died while climbing the rock since 1956.
Closure of Uluru Climb since October 2019
Since a few years now this “attraction” has been the subject of heated debates and negotiations. On 1st November 2017, the board members of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park voted to officially ban Uluru climb out of respect for the Anangu indigenous community. Since 26 October 2019, it is, therefore, forbidden to climb the rock.