Uluru in the heart of Australia is a striking rock monolith rising spectacularly from the desert plain. One of Australia's most popular tourist attractions, it was better known as Ayers Rock until its Aboriginal name, Uluru, became more popular.
While Uluru and Alice Springs are often linked together, they are in fact more than 450 kilometres apart. Yet one hardly visits one without visiting the other.
Uluru is 348 metres high, 3.6 kilometres long, 1.9 kilometres wide, and is 9.4 kilometres around. It is the largest rock monolith in the world.
- The world's largest rock, also found in Australia, is Mt Augustus in the Golden Outback region of Western Australia. Mt Augustus is a monocline and not a rock monolith.
Visitors converge before sundown on the Uluru Sunset Viewing Area which provides a magnificent spectacle of the rock monolith as it shifts hues with the dying of the day, turning into brilliant red just before the sun vanishes and plunges the desert into night. There is an Uluru Sunrise Viewing Area on the other side of Uluru.
Aboriginal sacred site
The Anangu Aboriginal people try to dissuade visitors from climbing Uluru as it is to them a sacred site of deep spiritual significance, but daily hundreds of tourists take the trek up the rock, a debilitating ascent in the desert heat and the cause of some deaths among those poorly prepared for the climb or those suffering from a heart condition.
Some kilometres north of Uluru is the resort community of Yulara, which provides traditional creature comforts (airconditioning, hotels, restaurants and bars, swimming pools) while maintaining the ambience of the Australian Outback.
Close by are the Olgas (Kata Tjuta) and the Valley of the Winds.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a World Heritage site.
Travel east on the Lassiter Highway, then north on the Stuart Highway, and you are in Alice Springs.