Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a place of unique beauty in the iconic “Red Centre” of Australia, inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List for both its cultural and natural values. The massive rock formations of Uluru and Kata Tjuta act as a refuge for both plants and animals, and are the focal point of this desert landscape.
The park consists of the two areas Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock), and Kata Tjuta (also known as the Olgas). It is located about 360km southwest of Alice Springs, in the southern part of the Northern Territory, and is sacred to the Aboriginal people of the area. There is a unique beauty in this desert landscape and I was surprised by the amount of vegetation that was thriving in such a harsh environment.
Kata Tjuta is a group of large, domed conglomerate rock formations or bornhardts. We visited the Kata Tjuta sunrise viewing platform early in the morning, while it was still dark (and cold!), and watched the sunrise over these formations.
The changes in the light over the landscape were beautiful. From this viewing platform, you could also see the silhouette of Uluru in the distance at the first light of dawn.
After taking in the sunrise, we drove out to Kata Tjuta and went on the Walpa George walk through the rocks. The sheer size of the formations is amazing, and because the George is sheltered from the sun, it is a refuge for plants and animals. The air is fresh and clean, and crisp on an early July morning, and everything is so still and peaceful.
Uluru is a massive monolithic rock formation composed of a coarse grain of sandstone, which has wildflowers and plants crowded around the base of the rock, seeking shelter and the life giving water runoff when it rains. There are many caves and crevices in the actual rock which was really interesting to see as we walked around the base. Up close, the rock looks as though it is rusty and flaking, and from a distance you can see the different layers through the rock.
We viewed a magnificent sunset over Uluru from the sunset viewing platform, watching the colours of the rock change from burnt orange to bright red and then back to a subdued rust as the moon rose over the top. The way the different lights created the spectrum of colours was fascinating.
There are usually only about 5 cloudy days in a month, and not all of them produce rainfall. So you have to be pretty lucky to see Uluru in the rain – and guess what? We did!! (Probably the one good time to have me along on a trip – I always seem to bring the rain with me – hahaha ) The rain came on our last day, so we took the car back out for a drive around the rock and walked around near the Mutitjulu Waterhole in between rain showers.
We visited Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in July, which was a great time of year to stay in the desert. It was crisp and cold in the evenings and there were hardly any flies during the day.
For more details, please visit: https://parksaustralia.gov.au/uluru/
Or see this guide to driving in Alice Springs.