What is Ayers Rock?
Ayers Rock is one of Australia’s most famous tourist icons. But what is Ayers Rock?
Ayers Rock comprises of a single piece of rock, almost 10kms in circumference and jutting out of the Northern Territory Outback. There is no other known geological feature in the world exactly like it, so it’s certainly considered a natural wonder and attracts the crowds to prove it.
For decades, tourists have been making the long journey to this remote site trying to find out just exactly what is Ayers Rock all about. Thousands of visitors travel some 460kms southwest of Alice Springs to see this remarkable lump of orange/brown sandstone that uniquely rises 350m from the flat plains of spinifex grass. Only the nearby Kata Tjuta, also known as The Olgas, offer anything similar in the region. Unlike Ayers Rock, they comprise of several sandstone mounds, which further add to the attraction of the area.
Ayers Rock is also known as Uluru, the name given to it by the local Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal tribe long before surveyor William Gosse named it in honour of South Australia Chief Secretary Henry Ayers in 1873. Today, the Aborigines own and administer the land on which the rock stands and, since they attach spiritual significance to it, they prefer visitors not to climb it.
A trip to Ayers Rock usually involves a five-hour drive from Alice Springs, in addition to a flight or an even longer drive, and therefore most people stay overnight. This is usually done in campsites or local resorts. One of the highlights of a visit is experiencing the changing colours of the rock at sunset and sunrise. At midday, temperatures can top 35°C during the summer months, so it’s best to plan to be indoors at the local Yulara resort town at this time.
Ayers Rock is a World Heritage site, and one of several worthwhile attractions near Alice Springs, including Kings Canyon and a number of intriguing landscapes. An air strip makes it possible to fly directly to the site.