Rising majestically from the surrounding desert landscape, Uluru holds immense cultural and spiritual significance. It’s also one of Australia’s most popular tourist attractions, up there with Sydney Harbor Bridge and Great Barrier Reef. It is, without a doubt, one of the country’s most iconic and mesmerizing natural wonders.
In today’s article, we’re going to take a look at some fascinating facts about Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock!
1. Uluru is a massive sandstone rock formation that stands 348 meters (1,142 feet) tall. That makes it 18 meters (59 feet) taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris. A lot of people believe Uluru is the biggest rock in the world but that record is held by Mount Augustus, which also happens to be in Australia.
2. The base of Uluru spans approximately 9.4 kilometers (5.8 miles). It can take 3.5 hours to walk all the way around the base of it.
3. The word Uluru doesn’t have a specific meaning in English. Instead, Uluru is simply a place name given to the rock. However, it is believed that the word Uluru has a connection to the Yankunytjatjara language. For a long time, people called it “Ayers Rock”, after Sir Henry Ayers, a former Chief Secretary of South Australia. Officially, it is still called “Uluru / Ayers Rock”.
4. The nearest town to Uluru, Alice Springs, is more than 450 km (279 miles) away. Uluru Rock can be found in Australia’s “Red Centre.”
5. In 1987, UNESCO recognized Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which includes Uluru, as a World Heritage Site. The area is recognized for its natural and cultural significance.
6. It is believed that Uluru Rock started to form 550 million years ago. Uluru and nearby rock Kata Tjuta were eroded from a Paleozoic-era mountain range. The sediment that created the rocks was buried and compressed until it formed a harder type of rock called arkose.
7. Uluru has been a site of significant importance to the Aboriginal people for thousands of years. According to Anangu mythology, Uluru was formed by ancestral beings during the Dreamtime – a significant period in Aboriginal spirituality and creation beliefs.
8. The Aborigines have been around Uluru for at least 10,000 years. However, some experts estimate that humans settled in the area almost 22,000 years ago.
9. People once thought that Uluru was caused by a meteorite impact millions of years ago. However, this theory is not widely accepted.
10. There is ancient rock art on display in Uluru. There are caves and rock shelters showcasing the history and artistic talents of the Anangu people. The Aboriginal people would use their rock art to pass stories from one generation to the next.
11. Uluru really is bright red. The rock’s distinct red color comes from the presence of iron oxide in the sandstone. At sunrise and sunset, Uluru’s colors change dramatically, ranging from fiery reds to deep purples.
12. Almost 2.5 km of Uluru Rock is underground. The monolith structure we can see is simply the tip of the rock. We can only see the tip of the rock thanks to erosion.
13. With minimal light pollution in the remote Outback, Uluru offers spectacular stargazing opportunities. Throughout the year, it’s possible to see the Milky Way from Uluru Rock.
14. Uluru’s surface features an intricate pattern of vertical joints and horizontal cleavage, created by weathering and erosion. These fractures contribute to the rock’s unique texture and appearance. After heavy rain, water cascades down Uluru’s sides, creating waterfalls and temporary waterholes.
15. During the summer months, temperatures around Uluru can soar, reaching up to 45°C (113°F). In 2019, Uluru Rock was closed to visitors due to extreme temperatures and high winds.
16. In 1997, snow fell on Uluru Rock. This weather phenomenon is so rare that no other event of its kind has ever been recorded in the area, not even by the Anangu people.
17. Despite Uluru’s vast desert landscape, flora thrives in the region. Some of the plants found near Uluru include blue mallee, desert oak, desert poplar, desert bloodwood, and honey grevillea.
18. The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is also home to various unique animal species. Tourists often enjoy spotting wildlife like wallabies, kangaroos, and various bird species during their visit.
19. Climbing Uluru was a popular tourist activity for many years, but in October 2019, it was officially closed to climbers. The rock was closed out of respect for the indigenous cultural beliefs.
20. That doesn’t stop more than 250,000 tourists from visiting Uluru each year. People travel from all over the world to view the rock and learn more about its cultural importance. Because tourists can no longer climb to the top of Uluru, a select few take to the skies in helicopters.
21. Adrenaline junkies have been known to skydive above Uluru Rock. Various tour companies offer skydiving excursions 12,000 feet above it.
22. Some tourists travel to Uluru to experience a unique Tali Wiru dinner. They enjoy a gourmet meal under the vast desert sky while listening to ancient stories shared by Anangu storytellers.
23. Uluru has a nearby resort for tourists to stay in. Ayers Rock Resort offers a range of accommodation options to cater to various budgets and preferences, including luxury hotels, campsites, and eco-lodges.
24. It is illegal to fly a drone over Uluru Rock. Flying a drone in the area is deemed an offense under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. Only authorized flyers can use their drone in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
25. It is also illegal to take rocks from Uluru. It’s even believed a curse will strike anyone that steals from the area. In 2018, a man that stole a piece of rock from Uluru believed he started to experience lots of bad luck, including $13,000 worth of damage to his truck.
26. In the past, tourists have caused great outrage at Uluru by posing naked. In 2010, an exotic dancer strip-danced on top of the rock, causing the Aboriginal people great disrespect.
27. Ernest Giles believed he was the first non-Aboriginal man to see Uluru in 1972 but explorer William Gosse claims to have beaten him there. It was Gosse that named Uluru Ayers Rock.
28. Uluru Rock has been visited by countless celebrities, royal members, politicians, and sports stars over the years. Perhaps the most famous visitor is Queen Elizabeth II who visited Uluru during her 1983 Australian tour. Princess Diana also visited Uluru the same year.
29. More recently, famous royal power couple Prince William and Kate enjoyed a private tour of Uluru and the surrounding heritage site. In 2014, They also stayed overnight at Ayers Rock Resort. It cost them more than $700 a night for the privilege.
30. Actors and actresses have also visited Uluru Rock. Actress Nicole Kidman visited Uluru in 2015 and actor Chris Hemsworth visited in 2016. Russel Crowe is another famous face that visited the rock.
31. Uluru and its unique landscape have been featured in a variety of popular movies. These include the likes of “Picnic At Hanging Rock”(1975), “A Passage to India” (1984), “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (1994), and “Tracks” (2013).
32. You can also find Uluru in a range of popular TV shows. These include “The Amazing Race Australia” (2011), “Australia: The Time Traveller’s Guide” (2012), “Outback Adventures with Tim Faulkner” (2014), and “National Parks Adventure” (2016).