462km (286 miles) SW of Alice Springs; 1,934km (1,199 miles) S of Darwin; 1,571km (974 miles) N of Adelaide; 2,841km (1,761 miles) NW of Sydney
Why travel so far to look at a large red rock? Because it will send a shiver up your spine. Because it may move you to tears. Because there is something indefinable and indescribable but definitely spiritual about this place. Up close, Uluru is more magnificent than you can imagine. It is immense and overwhelming and mysterious. Photographs never do it justice. There is what is described as a "spirit of place" here. It is unforgettable and irresistible (and you may well want to come back again, just for another look). It will not disappoint you. On my first visit -- yes, I am one who will keep coming back -- a stranger whispered to me: "Even when you are not looking at it, it is always just there, waiting to tap you on the shoulder." A rock with a presence.
"The Rock" has a circumference of 9.4km (6 miles), and two-thirds of it is thought to be underground. In photos, it looks smooth and even, but the reality is much more interesting -- dappled with holes and overhangs, with curtains of stone draping its sides, creating little coves hiding water holes and Aboriginal rock art. It also changes color from pink to a deep wine red depending on the angle and intensity of the sun. And if you are lucky enough to be visiting when it rains, you will see a sight like no other. Here, rain brings everyone outside to see the spectacle of the waterfalls created off the massive rock formed by sediments laid down 600 to 700 million years ago in an inland sea and thrust up aboveground 348m (1,141 ft.) by geological forces.
In 1985, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park was returned to its Aboriginal owners, the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people, known as the Anangu, who manage the property jointly with the Australian government. Don't think a visit to Uluru is just about snapping a few photos and going home. There are many ways of exploring it and one of the best is to join Aboriginal people on guided walks. You can walk around the Rock, climb it (we'll talk about that later), fly over it, ride a camel to it, circle it on a Harley-Davidson, trek through the nearby Olgas, and dine under the stars while you learn about them.
Just do yourself one favor: Plan to spend at least 2 days here, if not 3.
Isolation (and a lack of competition) makes such things as accommodations, meals, and transfers relatively expensive. A coach tour or four-wheel-drive camping safari is often the cheapest way to see the place.
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